There are many resources available for parents looking for scholarships and grants for their college-bound children. While the process of finding the right ones seems daunting and even intimidating, it’s really not so bad. And it’s free money!
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It takes time, patience and diligence. Most importantly, remember that there is no one scholarship that takes care of everything. Instead, it’s about applying and getting a variety of grants. Together, they will add up and hopefully take care of tuition, room, board and even leave a little left over for spending cash.
The money is out there—you just have to go get it! Here seven resources to help you get started.
1) Fill out the FAFSA form. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the official site and form you need to fill out to receive any kind federal government aid. Once you fill it out, it will automatically process and consider income and school tuition costs. If there are any need based scholarships or grants available from the federal government, it will automatically tell you what you qualify for via your student’s college. They will also offer student loans, so be careful what you decide to accept.
2) High School guidance counselor. Speak to your student’s high school counselor. This person was probably instrumental in helping your student decide on a college. He or she helped with applications, and can also help in pointing you to grants and scholarships, particularly those that are based in your home town and are not affiliated with the university.
3) College financial aid counselor. This is the go-to recourse for any non-need based grants or scholarships that the college might offer. These grants include merit-based scholarships, grants for women and minorities, and special awards that foundations and university clubs offer students.
4) FastWeb.com. This website claims to have 1.5 million scholarships in their database. Fill out the form, choose the preferences that apply to you and your interests. FastWeb will find a plethora of grants and scholarships that tailor to the individual student: from study abroad to bilingual student grants, this website finds it all.
5) Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Since 1975, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund has been helping Hispanic students and their families realize the dream of attending college. The fund has awarded more than $400 million in scholarships and aid from a variety of sources. Visit the Fund’s website to see if your student qualifies, and how to go about the application process.
6) Clubs. If your student belongs to any clubs in high school, like the Key Club, Chess Club, Debate Club, and so on, there might be money available. Ask the teachers who supervise these high school clubs. They’ll know of any specialty scholarships and grants available to students who belong to the clubs.
7). Politicians. Okay, they won’t give you money out of their pockets, but it’s a good idea to tap into your local, state and federal representatives. After all, you put them in office, and they’re there to help you. While federal need-based grants will show up on the FAFSA results, there are plenty of other grants and scholarships out there at the county, state and federal level. Check out the specific government websites. Search under education, higher education, and scholarships and grants. Often, these scholarships are merit-based awards or targeted to specific to students with a specialty area of interest. For example, some states and local governments offer scholarships for students who plan to become teachers once they graduate.
Editor’s Note: The following article is one in a series presented in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and designed to help parents prepare to send their kids off to college, brought to you by www.colgate.com/hazlau.