File your FAFSA.Available October 1 of each year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, does take some effort but is well worth it! (Remember, the federal deadline for the previous year's FAFSA is June 30.) The form is the key to determining your eligibility for need-based financial aid and some colleges require it to be qualified for need-based scholarships as well. Get all the help you need filling out your FAFSA forms here.
Utilize your campus financial aid office.Seeing as the world of financial aid can be confusing, it can behoove you to make friends with the experts within your school’s financial aid office. Their sole job is to help you figure out how to pay for school, find opportunities and discuss different options so you’re not stuck with a pile of debt upon graduation. Creating a relationship with a financial advisor in your school’s financial aid office means they’ll keep your situation in mind for new awards and opportunities and, trust us, it pays to have someone on your side. Utilize this resource and, while you’re in there, take the opportunity to negotiate your financial aid package. You’d be surprised how often this works and how few students actually make an attempt to do this. Become of the few who make the smart decision to do so!
Check scholarships specifically from your major’s department.Majors are a great resource for scholarships because they are often funded by alumni and other school patrons. Once you’ve declared your major, you’ll qualify for all sorts of scholarships within your department so be sure to check with your advisor regarding scholarship opportunities specifically tailored to your major. Generally, the more specific or unique the major, the less competition there is, so depending on your area of study, this may be a strategic goldmine!
Check scholarships specifically from the college within your university.If you attend a larger university or are working towards a higher degree, you’re most likely enrolled within a specified college (such as the “College of Arts and Sciences” or “College of Engineering”) within the larger university. Check for scholarships within your specific college. Often times, similar to scholarships for certain majors, there are plenty of scholarships provided by alumni and other college benefactors. Your advisor, as well as the department’s main office, should be able to point you in the right direction for college-specific scholarships. Chances are all of the scholarship opportunities are also listed on your school’s web site as well, though you may have to do some digging, so it may be worth a quick stop on your way to or from class.
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