Apply for FAFSA early
As soon as you can the form, either online or paper format, 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.
Federal Pell Grants
These grants are capped at $4,860 per year for the 2009-2010 school year. The good news is that you don’t need to pay these back since they are grants.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
This federal grant is between $100 and $4,000 a year, considering what you are already getting in terms of financial aid and when you submit your FAFSA. I missed this my first year, but I noticed how helpful it was to have some extra money when I got it my sophomore year.
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. I noticed that the dates are fairly fixed, so 2010 should be approximately the same dates.
Apply for scholarships
Just because you’re applying to the government for money doesn’t mean you can’t try to get some scholarships. Many websites, like FastWeb, allows you to search and find scholarships for you. Look for smaller and more niche scholarships, which can have less competition.
You should also check out your own school’s scholarships, which are generally based on need, merit, and/or major.
Stay local and consider community college to start off.
By staying in-state, you get much cheaper rates than out of state students. Out of state students at my university paid more than double the amount than in-state students.
In my area, the community college is close to the local universities. Some of my professors at the community college also taught at the university. You also save 40-60% on the price per credit and still get the same quality of education.
Maintain good grades
Most federal financial aid require a 2.0 GPA or higher to keep it. Donít 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. Focus on improving your study skills such as improving your memory, reading comprehension, and speed reading.
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.
These are just a few tips to increase your financial aid package for school. You can also take advantage of tax credits for college students and receive a refund. What have you done to improve the amount of grants your receive and decrease your student loans.
The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on your taxes, your investments, the law or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.