8 Resources to Help You Understand, Find, and Apply for Financial Aid

As different aid offers, scholarship contests, and opinions from family and friends flood in, remember that there are tons of resources to help you get the most out of your financial aid opportunities! To help you navigate this complicated process, we’ve compiled a list of eight resources that we think can be useful. This list is broken up into three sections:

  • Applying for Financial Aid
    • FAFSA
    • Affordable Colleges Online
    • Federal Student Aid website
  • Hunting for scholarships
    • Scholarship America –eBook
    • FastWeb — scholarship search tool
    • Goodcall — tips on finding scholarships
  • Finding Affordable Colleges
    • College Cost — measures affordability
    • QuestBridge — connects low-income students with opportunities

Applying for Financial Aid

In some ways, the most complicated part of paying for college is learning how to apply for financial aid.

  1. The most ubiquitous type of financial aid is federal aid, which you receive by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You can fill out the FAFSA here.
  2. The FAFSA may seem daunting at first, but Affordable Colleges Online has written up the basics of how to apply, along with lots of other useful information on financial aid.
  3. The Federal Student Aid website also has a useful guide on the different types of financial aid (gift aid, loan options, work study). The video on this site is captioned in both English and Spanish.

Read more: Negotiating College Financial Assistance Offers

Hunting for Scholarships

Once you understand how to apply for Federal financial aid, the next step is to look for scholarships you/your student may be eligible for. Scholarships can be based on academic merit, essay writing abilities, cultural backgrounds, random chance, and many other factors.

  1. Scholarship America: When you are looking for scholarships offered by businesses or other organizations, this free eBook has information about finding and applying for scholarships.
  2. FastWeb: This site offers a free scholarship-search tool. You can filter results by your skills, demographic information, and interests. It also has a career tool that can point you in the direction of careers you may be interested in.
  3. Goodcall: This site offers a comprehensive guide on the types of financial aid, tips on how to find the right scholarships, and detailed information on applying for scholarships.

Read more: Financial Aid for College 2017

Finding Affordable Colleges

After learning about how financial aid works, and how to find it, you may be wondering about choosing a college based on your finances. After considering aid offers, many schools are much more affordable than their “sticker prices” would lead you to believe.

  1. This US government site provides access to College Scorecards (scores colleges based on criteria about affordability), a College Navigator (allows you to filter colleges by size, cost, safety, and other factors), and a Net Price Calculator (estimates the amount your family would have to pay after scholarships and grants).
  2. QuestBridge is a renowned program that “connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with leading colleges and opportunities”, and it “aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation’s best colleges and to support them to achieve success in their careers and communities.”

Read more: 10 Ways to Decide Which College to Attend

Good luck!

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