Family Budget Fridays: Affording College, Part 2

Family Budget Fridays: Affording College, Part 2

As mentioned in Part 1 of this affording college segment, I wanted to offer some valuable resources in finding money for school. Briefly, I want to recap what was previously mentioned: to choose a school that is affordable, to begin saving now, and don’t be afraid to work through the formal education process.

One thing I want to backtrack and add: for many students under guidelines and rules of organizations, such as the NCAA, working is tricky, but there are ways to pull it off and not lose any athletic eligibility. If such a scenario eventually applies to you or your child, have them discuss it with an NCAA adviser.

Where to Find the College Funds

Whether you’re a parent or a prospective college student, one of the first places you’ll want to seek money for academia is through a scholarship. There are literally thousands of scholarships available, providing millions and millions of dollars to the scholarship-award recipients. I can hear what you’re saying: “I don’t have the grades.”

Sorry. Not a valid argument. Not all of the thousands of scholarship dollars are based solely on grades. You’ll just have to dig around and find the ones for which you (or your child) may be eligible, based on public service, interests or extra-curricular activities. Unions, corporations, churches, club-organizations: these are just a few of the options available for seeking scholarship money.

Scholarship Help is a wonderful resource for the pursuit of scholarships. The site will help in everything from seeking out available scholarship money to completing scholarship applications. It is worthwhile to grab an editor (even a former English teacher) for help in writing essays. This will ensure your thoughts are well thought out, concise and remain sincere.

For students who have displayed academic excellence, and have tested to certain levels on both or either the ACT and SAT, there are generally an array of scholarships available. Many scholarships may be available through a chosen institution of higher education. Look into these possibilities. They will generally be listed within a college or university’s financial aid department.

There’s nothing wrong with stock-piling scholarships and getting as much money as you can for studies. Parents, make this a research activity that you can enjoy with your soon-to-be college student. The more money they score, the more they can enjoy college without the stress of having to worry about graduating with substantial debt. A real life example: I had several friends who were literally “paid” to go to school. They qualified for so many scholarships that they had excess that they could put away for travel, or furthering education in the social realm.

The next category of money is through grants and student loans. A student loan should be the last option. And before jumping on a government-funded, educational loan, you’ll want to shop around for loans from other financial institutions. Government grants, however, do not have to be paid back and can be immediately applied to educational needs. The best place to begin the application for Federal student aid is through the FAFSA website.

Every little bit of money helps in the grand scheme of affording a college education. Graduating from an undergrad program with little to no debt will equate to a smoother transition to “real life,” or the next phase of a formal education. It is well worth the extra effort to score as much school money as possible.

(Image via: College Scholarship Network)