"I saw a commercial the other day that said that there are millions of dollars in unclaimed scholarship money available. Should I pay someone to help me find this "free money" for college?
First, never pay someone to find scholarships and financial aid for you. Remember that most forms of "need-based" financial aid are based upon your family's household income and ability to pay for your college education. In other words, we are all pretty much playing by the same rules when it comes to finding financial aid . Don't be tricked by scam artists claiming some "special access" to treasure troves of unclaimed scholarship money.
The Right Way to Find Scholarships and Grants
Let's recap the difference between "need-based" and "merit-based" aid. Your FAFSA "Student Aid Report" is going to tell you your "need" status based upon an equation that factors your household financial information, how much your colleges of choice are likely to cost, and how much your family can afford to contribute in deciding how much grant money you will receive. If you qualify for need-based aid with the FAFSA, then you should apply for additional scholarships and grants that award money based upon need criteria. If the FAFSA "Student Aid Report" shows that your family financial situation does not qualify you for strictly "need-based" money, start thinking more about corporate scholarships, talk to your college admissions officer about scholarships that the college offers to attract students to certain programs. Merit aid is out there- you have to be creative and ask everyone you know about scholarships through religious organizations and their employers. Getting scholarships and grants based upon "merit" is not something that anyone can do for you since you have to show off your talents and abilities primarily with applications and essays.
The Good News
Lots of people want to see you succeed in college and are willing to help you pay for it!
Start with the federal and state governments with the FAFSA, the college(s) your are trying to attend, your place of worship, community organization, high school and local businesses.
Have a great success story about how you are paying for college? Still looking for help on how to get money for college?
We are looking forward to hearing from you!