Since FAFSA applications will be sent out and available starting this week, I decided to re-post (and modify) a previous post on financial aid. The information is still good and very helpful.

My goal with this post is to try and get you the information you need to find  money for college. While many students finance their education with mainly student loans, there are grants and scholarships out there. The main key is start early. While there are opportunities throughout the year, focusing on applying in January and February can really pay off. How? See the tips below to find out.

Remember you’re looking for grants, which mean you don’t have to pay them back.

Apply for FAFSA early.

As soon as you can, apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid in January. Use an estimate for your taxes when you initially fill it out. Once you get your tax return back, (or your parents’) sign in online and update the information. The earlier you do this the higher your chances of receiving more grants.

Be aware of individual states’ deadlines for getting financial aid.

Each state has a different deadline on getting grants from them. March is a deadline that many states shoot for, so try to do it early and you’ll see that you can get more grants there. We’re talking about an extra hundred a semester to thousands of dollars.

Apply for scholarships.

Just because you’re getting money from the government doesn’t mean you can’t try to get some scholarships. FastWeb is a popular site that searches applicable scholarships for you. You should also check out the institution’s scholarships, which are usually based on need, merit, and/or major.

Stay local.

By staying in-state, you get much cheaper rates than out of state students. My university doubles the rate for a class for out of state students.

Go to a community college first.

In my area, the community college is close to the local universities. Many of the university professors teach at community college. You also save 40-60% on the price per credit!

Maintain good grades.

Most federal financial aid require a 2.0 GPA or higher to keep it. Don’t use that as a guideline; strive for a 3.0 or higher. It will help when you go to a 4 year university and are looking at their scholarships.

Consider work study as an option.

This helps put cash on your pocket and the schedule is typically good for a college student. If you have dependents and going to college, this may not be an option, as the pay is usually $6-8/hour.  I would suggest looking at jobs from the career center.

There are several articles great articles from other blogs that can help college students. Here’s a list of my favorites:

If you enjoyed this post and want more, please subscribe to my RSS feed or check out my best posts!

Photo Credit: yanec

Laura Martinez

Laura Martinez