Three critical items for families to keep in mind as they begin this process:
1. Students and families need to explore the scholarship sections on the websites of the colleges and universities where they plan to apply. This should be done early, since many have deadlines in order for students to be considered. Applying early action can improve the chances of being considered for scholarships and may be required for consideration. Some universities will automatically consider applicants for merit-based awards, while others require a separate application for specific scholarships.
2. Many websites require the user to create an account to engage in the search process. Please remember that no one should pay for any services related to finding or obtaining scholarships, grants, or loans. If a fee is required, students and families are strongly advised not to use that service. This website contains tips on how to spot a scholarship search scam http://www.collegescholarships.org/scam.htm .
3. To apply for financial aid, families will use the FAFSA Home - FAFSA on the Web-Federal Student Aid and/or the CSS Profile CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. Please do not wait to be accepted by a college before applying for financial aid! Please check the financial sections on the individual websites of each college to which you apply for instructions and the deadlines for submitting this financial information. These deadlines vary from college to college, with some occurring as early as the fall of the senior year, but most are in January. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the national application for student aid. Filling out this on-line application will enable students and families to become eligible for such forms of aid as subsidized and unsubsidized loans, work study programs at college, grants and other financial-need based aid through the government and through individual colleges. Some schools also will adjust merit-based aid based upon this form. The application is available on October 1st of each year and must be completed every year while the student is in college. Families will need the current year's tax information to complete the form. The form may be completed earlier using the previous year’s tax information, but must be updated when the current tax information becomes available. Please note that even if families feel they may not be eligible for need-based financial aid, they should complete the FAFSA anyway as it often serves as a trigger for other institutional aid and merit awards at some colleges and universities. The CSS Profile is similar to the FAFSA and is overseen by The College Board.
Financial Aid Calculators
To estimate the true cost of paying for college or to compare offers of financial packages from different colleges, these websites may be helpful.
Financial Aid/Scholarship Sites
Below are some websites that will be helpful in the search for scholarships, grants, and financial aid. The websites are launching pads to assist in the navigation of the financial aid and scholarship process.
http://somdcan.org/CalvertLSA/ This is an excellent website that has pulled together numerous local scholarships for Seniors. There is a common application form, which makes it very easy to apply for multiple scholarships. The deadline on the form is mid-March. Some require additional materials, such as an essay, official transcript, and/or letters of recommendation. They range from a one-time $500 award, to numerous renewable scholarships for thousands of dollars each year, to even full tuition! There are specific qualifications for each of them, such as only for public school students or only for residents of specific counties.
http://www.collegescholarships.org/search/helpful-reviews.htm Contains reviews and descriptions of several links for scholarship searching
The next five scholarship sites are among the biggest and were recently reviewed by Money Magazine, for promising matches, with the first being at the top of their list.
http://www.inroads.org/ The Mission of INROADS is to develop and place talented underserved youth in business and industry, and prepare them for corporate and community leadership.
www.blackexcel.org/link4.htm Black Excel, one of the largest databases for scholarships for African-American students
www.kasf.org The Korean American Scholarship Foundation
www.hsf.net Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Scholarship Resources for International Students
First, see what financial aid is available to international students at the universities where you plan to apply. Go to the website and click on the links for “international students” and for “financial aid.”
International Educational Financial Aid: http://www.iefa.org/
College Scholarships.org: http://www.collegescholarships.org/grants/international.htm
U.S. News and World Report: http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-scholarship-coach/2011/03/24/scholarship-sources-for-international-students