As anyone who has recently graduated from college or is looking into college can tell you, tuition is through the roof and steadily rising at many universities. In fact, the price tag attached to a college education can seem utterly unattainable for many. As someone who had to go after nearly every type of financial aid available, I can relate to that feeling. However, a college diploma can be yours thanks to free college money for students.
The financial aid process left me well versed in the various options available to college students. Students (and their parents) may be surprised to learn that there are numerous opportunities available for free college money for students. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing where and how to look.
Unless you are fortunate enough to have a substantial trust fund, amazing athletic ability that has scouts lining up to recruit you, or parents with deep pockets, you will likely need to actively seek some form of financial aid in order to pay for college. When I say actively, I mean that you will need to invest some effort into locating and obtaining said financial aid. There are many different types of financial aid out there, but the best type of financial aid is the free college money for students.
Don’t get me wrong, I had student loans (thousands in fact) and I highly recommend them when you have no other options, but before you start borrowing, be sure you have exhausted your other options, namely those that involve free college money for students.
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Free College Money for Students
Two of the main types of free college money for students are grants and scholarships. Let’s take a closer look at both types and how to locate them.
Grants are often need-based and may come from public (ex. government) or private (ex. a company) sources. The grants funds that are available from the government (both federal and state) must be applied for via a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (a.k.a. FAFSA). Often these government grants do have merit-based strings attached such as having to maintain a GPA of 3.2 or higher. Typically, you will have to apply for this type of free college money for students each year. In addition, grants tend to be on a first come, first served basis meaning you will want to apply as early and quickly as possible.
Scholarships may be need-based, merit-based, or some combination of the two. They may also have other requirements such as fulfilling community service or having some type of disability. This type of free college money for students can come from a slew of sources such as the government, college you’re looking to attend, outside organizations, and non-profit groups. To be awarded a scholarship, in most cases, you’ll need to complete a separate application for each scholarship and this application may include a written essay, recommendations, or other duties. For example, one scholarship I applied for I had to give a speech in front of a lady’s group. For another scholarship the dean of my college asked me to complete an independent study research project in exchange for scholarship money (which I happily did)!
To find scholarship opportunities you can talk to your guidance counselor, go to your financial aid office, search the Internet, and use mobile apps. Though there are lots of opportunities for free college money for students there are also a lot of people competing for these opportunities so don’t be discouraged if you do not receive all of the funding you apply for. In addition, don’t let your need for money cloud your common sense. There are scams out there so if an opportunity seems far too good to be true than be extra cautious about giving out personal information.
Another way to obtain free college money for students is through an employer based tuition reimbursement program. Many employers will pay all or part of your tuition if you are studying something related to your current position or the company’s industry. One company that has recently introduced a great college tuition reimbursement program is Starbucks.
The key to obtaining free college money for students is to treat it like it’s a job because after all, you are hoping to get paid for your efforts. You will very likely have to research opportunities, complete lengthy applications, meet strict timelines, obtain additional information (i.e. references) and more but I assure you it is worth the effort. Any free money you receive will be that much less that you have to borrow and thus have to repay in the future. When you graduate you don’t want to spend your hard earned money on student loan payments – a shopping spree at the mall is way more fun! Good luck locating and obtaining free college money for students.
Do you have other tips on obtaining free college money for students? If so, please share your tips and tricks in the comments!