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Financial Aid is not Rocket Science

Before you write off going to college because you cannot afford it, consider applying for financial aid.

You may be eligible for free money to go to school; but how will you know until you fill out a financial aid application? The process is pretty simple.

As you think about earning a traditional or online degree, professional certificate or vocational school diploma,you may be surprised to find that not one dime of the tuition payments will come out of your pocket, depending on your financial profile. So move forward and think of the possibilities ahead.

For federal grants, loans, and work study, there is one form to fill out — the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). It is the financial aid application that most colleges require you to file; and it can be filled out online in as little as 45 minutes, but more likely 1-2 hours. It is generally pretty easy, not rocket science.

These are a few things you should know about financial aid:

  • The FAFSA involves answering fill-in-the-blank questions and taking information directly from your federal income tax form. Most questions involve little thought, just a transfer of information.
  • Colleges and universities usually offer help in filling out financial aid forms. Accredited, for-profit online schools often provide extensive support to students; and it may be easier to access a qualified, live person on the telephone instead of phone prompts and recordings.
  • Even if you are not eligible for a grant, you may be offered a subsidized student loan, which pays the interest on the loan while you are in school. And most federal loans do not have to be repaid until several months after you have completed school, as long as you remain enrolled in the required number of units each quarter or semester.
  • Directory of Schools offers valuable financial aid information on its website, along with links to additional resources. This is a great start for those who need easy-to-digest financial aid information.
  • Millions of dollars in private scholarship money remain untouched each year; because eligible students do not apply for the funds. These applications may require essays or additional information; and deadlines must be met. But the rewards can be in the thousands of dollars. Check out your church, lodge, credit union, women’s auxiliary, employer, etc. for scholarships specifying graduating high school seniors, older adults, minorities, women, the disabled, athletes, music students and others.
  • Bookstores and libraries are great resources for private scholarships. But be careful of advertisements for ‘free college money’, especially if they want you to pay them for their services. There is enough free financial aid support in local junior colleges, online schools, on-campus schools and reputable websites.

If you want to go to college, give it a shot. Choose a college and apply for financial aid. You may be surprised at what happens for you.

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