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How to Get Free Money for College

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by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)

Attending college is a large financial commitment. But, there are many ways to obtain help financially, some free and some not. Millions of students apply for and receive some sort of financial aid each year.

Almost half of all students who go on to college after high school receive financial aid; so if you need help you’re not alone. Financial aid comes in three main types at the college level: Grants and scholarships, loans and work study.

The good news about grants and scholarships is they don’t have to be repaid but obtaining one of these is highly competitive. Most students who qualify for these spend little time hanging out with the guys.

They strive to excel in all courses of study. Once you’re awarded a grant or scholarship you’ll probably have to maintain a certain grade level in college and may be required to take certain courses.

Student loans like any other loan has to be repaid but payments usually don’t begin until after graduation. Interest rates on student loans are generally lower than a regular loan and easier to get for students who have no established credit rating.

Be sure and read the fine print before signing any loan to understand the exact provisions. Remember, this is a legal and binding loan you have to repay even if you don’t finish school. It’s not from Uncle Ned who may say pay me when you can. Failure to repay can smear the credit record of both the student and parents.

Work Study Programs are as the name implies. You work and study. This means you can work during the summer or part time during the school year. Most colleges are very helpful to students who need to work to make ends meet and can help you find employment that won’t interfere with class schedules. Many jobs are on campus alleviating any transportation problem.

Merit Based Financial Aid can reward students who have kept their nose to the books during high school. This is not related to financial need but awarded to students who meet certain academic requirements. Merit Based Aid can also be given to students who have done well, or have excelled, in some special talent.

Need Based Financial Aid is based on the students and their parent’s ability to pay college costs. Talk to your school guidance counselor either in high school or college for the proper forms to make application. As a matter of fact, be ready to fill out many applications and forms for any of the grants, loans and scholarships you apply for.

The federal government supplies most aid for college at about 75%, but there are other sources. These include corporations, professional organizations such as Rotary Clubs, religious organizations and credit unions. Contact the organization’s headquarters directly. With dogged determination you’ll find the money needed for your education. It’s out there somewhere, whether free or not. Go get it!

Updated: October 4, 2013 — 4:08 am

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