If you plan to go to college, but you do not have the funds to pay for it, you may be looking at alternatives to a student loan. BEFORE you consider a student loan, you should look for and apply for available student scholarships and grants.
Grants and scholarships are money that does not need to be paid back. Therefore, your college tuition or a portion of it is paid and you do not have to worry about owing any money back to anyone.
Below, we will go over some of the ways that you can find scholarships and grants for school.
Finding a Scholarship
There are a number of ways that you can find a scholarship for school. The first way is to speak with a counselor in your school’s financial aid department. They will be able to tell you what scholarships are available and which ones you should apply for.
The second way is to perform an online search to look for scholarships. This is a convenient way to look for them, but you need to be extremely careful as there are many individuals who will try to scam you. You should never pay to apply for a scholarship or pay to search for a scholarship.
Other ways to look for available scholarships include:
- Talking to federal agencies
- Speaking with your employer
- Talking to a career school counselor
- Talking to your high school counselor
- Looking for scholarships at the library
- Talking to ethnicity groups
- Talking to your church or other local organizations
Finding a Grant
There are a number of federal grants available for you to apply for, but it is important to keep in mind that many of them are based on a financial need.
The Federal Pell Grant is well-known and does require a financial need. To apply for grants, you first need to see if you qualify for any. To do this, you need to fill out the FAFSA and provide any requested information about your finances.
After you have submitted this information, your application will be processed and you will receive more information about whether or not you qualify.
If you do qualify, the grant is automatically applied to the cost of your tuition. If any amount is left over, you can use it to pay for books and other education supplies.
Are There Deadlines to Apply for Scholarships and Grants?
Yes and no. There are deadlines to file for scholarships and the scholarship will generally have an apply by date that all of the information must be completed and turned in by. If you miss this date, you will not be able to submit your application.
When it comes to grants, there is a deadline to fill out the FAFSA, but you can fill it out whenever you want. The deadline is in place because it guarantees that your application has enough time to be processed.
For example, you can apply for a grant two weeks before school starts, but if your application is chosen for verification or your application requires more information, it is unlikely that the grant will kick in with enough time to spare for you to go to school that semester.
Can I Still Receive Loans with Grants and Scholarships?
Yes. You can still receive a federal or private student loan even if you have received a grant or scholarship. It is important to note that the scholarship or grant will affect the amount of money you receive and you may receive a lesser portion of aid, since all money received is added together.
How Can I Apply for a Scholarship?
Once you have located a scholarship, there should be instructions on the application that tell you how to apply for the scholarship. Most applications are accepted online, but you may need to mail in an application from time to time. Always make sure you read through the instructions and follow directions; otherwise, your application may be denied.
If you are interested in applying for a scholarship or grant, speak with your financial aid counselor to learn more about the options that are available to you for the school year.