Financial Aid For School

My fellow graduate student used to say that 50% of getting a college education is being able to jump through the hoops. One of those hoops—that often seems as if it a circus hoop on fire—is the hoop of financial aid for school.

But after we graduated and went on to teach, I made it a goal to help students at the community college where I taught and worked in the learning center to find financial aid for school after community college. In my research, which I used for financial aid workshops, I found multiple methods, venues, and possibilities for finding and getting financial aid for the school of one’s dreams.


First, know yourself. What is your major? Why? What career do you have in mind? Why? What kind of money do you seek? And what are you eligible for (what characteristics do you have that meet the criteria for financial aid for school, a grant or grants for study, or scholarships for specialty areas and skills)?

Financial Aid--> Taxpayer-supported stipends based on need Grants--> Federal, state, and college gifts based on need Scholarships--> College, corporate and private gifts based on academic status/excellence and standing

Next, ask (anyone and everyone).

Then, look (everywhere).


1. In the college. If you are a transfer student at a community college, seeking financial aid for school elsewhere—at the university you will transfer to, etc.--start your search locally, at the college you are attending. Every campus has a financial aid office (or area) which offers financial aid applications, a scholarship bulletin board, and grant information.

2. Newspaper classifieds sections, backs of trade magazines (in your field), and the yellow pages (major corporations often give big $).

3. Check other likely places: ask your employer, the place where you volunteer, your Mom or Dad’s employer, organizations (Lion’s club, Elks, Eastern Star) and church(es).

4. Investigate corporations. Many give large scholarships. (For example, Coca-Cola gave thousands to one of the students at my college one year, and another big biz gave a Psych major $10,000 to transfer to a state university.)

5.Use a free scholarship search engine: HOW TO APPLY 1.Start early. The process is arduous and time consuming, and the wait window is at times quite long, taking sometimes a whole semester to land the dough (which you initially come up with to pay for a semester and which is then given you as a reimbursement, in other words).

2. Read eligibility requirements carefully. Each organization/group/ individual maintains strict criteria.

3. Keep scholarship materials organized (in separate folders, for example).

4. Keep copies of EVERYTHING.

5. Do your homework: look at biographies, annual reports, grants list(s) of previous recipients (and, if possible, their bios and entry essays).

6. Learn what forms you need: For financial aid, for example, you need a number of forms which can be found at; for grants and scholarships, request a copy of the guidelines and the application. Call or email the sponsor if you have questions.

7. Follow instructions.

8. Proofread carefully.1

9. Leave nothing blank.

10. Be legible.

11. Get application materials in early.

12. AVOID SCAMS. When doing the footwork/research for support, be mindful of any of the following:

Anyone/any site who/that asks for your credit card/bank numbers/social security number2 Anyone/site guaranteeing a scholarship Anyone who “selects” you as a “winner” Anyone who offers unsolicited free stuff Any “Foundation” without a name (Check out the source) Anyone who tells you you can’t get this info “anywhere else” Any place that says it/they is/are “holding” a scholarship for you and need money from you first Anyone who asks for any money Anyone who offers to do all the work for you, for as you see here, while I have done scads of work for you, you still have a lot of work to do to get that money!!!!!

1. Many of us use a template. If you do so, be sure that all the names, dates, etc. are changed accordingly. 2 Of course, gov’t financial aid forms, based on income, will ask for ss# and/or IRS info. i Requires you fill out a great deal of personal info first ii Lends itself to specific fields/majors and citizenship/residency status (good for int’l students!?); however, poorly edited and limited in combinations (possibilities) iii Even though free, you must join iv International student scholarship search engine v Ibid vi Ibid vii Ibid. nota bene: this is a superb search engine: it breaks down and collects the field, major, school, gender, ethnicity, geographical location criteria for you. viii This is the website of the famous Fulbright Scholar Program. Go for it! ix Cannot forget Canada. Actually, this is for Canadians and other students studying abroad

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