It is hard to believe that fall is just around the corner and with it comes some really important times in our life. Our middle child will be looking at college and universities seriously and we have to start thinking about financial aid programs, scholarships and grants. Although both Mr. Money Saving Parent and I have worked with students at a university about their scholarships and financial plans, as parents with one child in college, another one getting ready to go and two others to plan for; finding the scholarships and grants that are best for each college bound student to apply for can get a little scary and confusing.
So where do you and your children start when trying to put together a financial aid package? First, contact the college or university that you are interested in and obtain a list from them of the scholarships available at their institution. Some may be gender, program or location specific so you can quickly go through that information, eliminating those you are obviously not going to be eligible for and begin gathering information for those that you do wish to apply for. These scholarships may require letters of recommendation, certificates of achievement, participating in pre-college programs or other requirements that it may take some time for you to pull together for the application.
Next you will complete the FAFSA application which determines according to the Federal Government the amount that is considered financial need. This information will be needed no matter what scholarships or grants you apply for and is also used to determine many other award packages including student loans.
Most importantly begin an application calendar! You may want to create one online because a great deal of the information needed to apply for financial aid programs require a parent(s) and students information. Using a tool that will not only mark the dates but send reminders can help you get to the application process on time. Mark all deadlines on the calendar and be sure to include reminder notes and follow ups to the information you need to gather to complete the application process.
Putting together a financial aid package can be a great deal of work, but it can also really pay off in the long run. There are many opportunities out there, you just go have start early to look for them. Large or small every scholarship or grant helps.
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