Mother's Day Features
How to Make College More Affordable
There's money out there if you know where to look
Millions of families each year face the question of how to pay for college. And it's not one that's easily answered without the help of some kind of financial aid. A survey by The Princeton Review found that 86 percent of college applicants and parents of applicants said that financial aid would be "very necessary."
In 2009-10, there was over $199 billion of financial aid distributed to undergraduate and graduate students in the form of grants, federal loans, work-study, and tax credits and deductions, according to "Trends in Student Aid 2010," by The College Board. The same report said that full-time undergraduate students received an average of $11,461 in financial aid.
So the good news is that there is money for college out there - if you know where to look. Here are some resources to help you find ways to make college more affordable.
Take a look at affiliations and memberships - Past and present employers, unions, military service, memberships, activities and hobbies can all be sources for college funds. A parent or grandparent's membership in an organization may get a student the aid they need. A good example of this is Foresters Competitive Scholarships. Eligible Foresters members and their families can apply for scholarships for community service as well as good grades.
"We take great pride in investing in our members, their families and the communities where they live," said Kasia Czarski, Chief Membership and Marketing Officer at Foresters, a life insurance provider committed to the well-being of families. "Every year Foresters awards 350 Competitive Scholarships as part of its member benefits because a solid education only makes for a brighter future." For more information on Foresters Competitive Scholarship program, visit www.foresters.com/scholarships.
Lower the cost to attend - Try the community college route. Start at a less expensive school and then transfer to a four-year institution. It's far less expensive and can cut time and money off the cost of a four-year program. You can also plan early by taking advanced placement classes while in high school. Take summer classes and an extra class per semester to get a leg up on college credit requirements.
Be a savvy scholarship searcher - Take advantage of the internet to search out the scholarship - or scholarships - right for you. Here are some resources to get you started:
* Good, general starting places include www.scholarships.com, www.fastweb.com, and www.collegeboard.org.
* Latino students can search for scholarships at www.maldef.org or www.haceonline.org. For other minority scholarships, visit www.finaid.org.
* For out-of-the-box scholarships - such as those for vegetarians, getting creative with duct tape, and even being left-handed - visit www.scholarships.com, and www.fastweb.com.
A word of caution as you're searching for scholarships - be alert to scams. If you have to pay in order to compete for a scholarship, it may be a scam. Learn more about scholarship scams at www.ftc.gov.
Look at service and professional groups - Many service organizations such as the Scouts, VISTA and Teach for America offer scholarships. Corporate foundations are an excellent source of financial aid and often require a number of years of service to that organization in return. If you know what you want to study, look into professional associations affiliated with that career. Many, including associations for political science, nursing and physical therapy, offer scholarships to help attract students to their fields.
Start exploring financial options early and do your homework, because with some time, patience and perseverance, it is possible to make college more affordable.
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