College Grants and Scholarships

If you are a college-bound high school student who’s seeking college grants and scholarships, then the first place you need to start is by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  This form is commonly known as the FAFSA.  The earlier you fill out this form, the higher your chances are of receiving the most financial aid or college grants, as well as to address any potential problems that may arise as a result of the process before the application deadline.

The last day to submit the application is near the beginning of the summer.  Again, the sooner you fill out the application the better.  If you wait too close to the deadline, then you’ll feel rushed to get any questions that may arise answered quickly.

There are some very important things that you need to know about the FAFSA form.  Most colleges and universities require that you complete this form before they will award you any financial aid at all, not just federal financial aid.  In other words, you must fill out this form even if you plan on only applying for internal college grants and scholarships and not federal financial aid.  However, you should check with the specific college or university to get the specifics.  In order to do this, you can start with the school’s financial aid office.

It is also important to keep in mind that you need to fill out one of these forms every school year.  This is not a form that is automatically renewed or guaranteed.  Why?  Because there are a lot of things that could affect the amount of college grants and scholarships you are eligible to receive each year due to changes in your income or your parent’s income.

Something else to keep in mind is the type of loans you are awarded.  Subsidized student loans do not begin accruing interest until you graduate or lower the amount of credit hours you are taken below the requirement, whereas an unsubsidized student loan begin accruing interest from day one.  What this means is that you will begin owing a lot of money in interest after graduation if you take out unsubsidized loans to pay for your education.

In addition to college grants and scholarships, student loans are a good way for students to be able to fund their college education, particularly for student who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend college.  At the same time, you should only borrow the money that you need and use the loan responsibly.  Some students fail to do this and use the money for reasons outside their intended purpose.

The FAFSA also enables you to apply for Federal Pell Grants and Federal Work Study programs.  Student loans should always be a last resort, rather than a first.  You should aim for obtaining college grants and scholarships first.  The amount of money made available to you from a loan can be very tempting, so be careful and make sure you read all of the terms and conditions before signing up for any and all financial aid.

If you have financial aid related questions, your high school guidance counselor, college financial aid office, and the internet are all great resources for additional information related to college grants and scholarships, as well as the different types of loans that you may qualify for.

If you are looking for additional information on the FAFSA form, like where do you go to fill it out? how do you fill it out?, etc, check out my other posts on this topic:

  1. FAFSA Form
  2. Fill Out FAFSA

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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