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Finding Money for College

This blog is directed mainly towards people who in my boat, working college students. As I’m working on finishing my last semester, I was reflecting on some things that could help others in getting an education at an affordable rate. The most affordable rate I could think of was free. My goal with this post is to try and get you the information you need to find this money.

People don’t normally associate college students with being rich, but it is possible to have money saved while going to college. It takes some effort at first, but once you get into the habit, it’ll pay off in spades.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Keen

Tips on Maximizing Your Financial Aid

  1. 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.
  2. Be aware of individual states’ deadlines for getting financial aid. Each state has a different deadline on getting grants from them. We’re talking about an extra hundred a semester to thousands of dollars. Remember you’re looking for grants, which mean you don’t have to pay them back.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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 4year university and are looking at their scholarships.
  7. 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.

Tomorrow Next Monday, I’ll look into how to budget on a college student’s budget and save money. I’ll do two basic ones:

  • A dependent student living at home
  • An independent student living on their own or have familial responsibilities

*Working on these budgets made me realize I was narrowing the field too much, it look I’ll have at least 5 sample budgets next Monday instead of just 2 budgets!

Some sites you should check out

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

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Photo Credit: Phillip C