Posted by Elliot Kravitz, ATP

How to go to College for FREE

How to go to College for FREE

College education can set you back by a substantial sum. In 2017-2018, a four-year course in a private college would entail an expense of about $34,740. It could take you the best part of your adult life to repay your student loan, unless you can find another mode of income to help pay for your education. Would you be surprised to learn that you could actually get free money for college: a system that will help you find the money you need to be able to say no to an education loan? This is not what you might imagine to be a pipe dream. Virtually every prospective college student can hope to get a grant provided he/ she is ready to work to find the right one to suit his/ her needs. In this article, we will teach you about the various choices a student can avail when he/ she seeks free money for college.

Grants and Scholarships

While the terms sound related, grants and scholarships are quite different from each other. Knowing the difference between the two concepts would help you choose the option that best suits your needs. However, there is a point of similarity between the two in that unlike a student loan, a grant or scholarship does not have to be repaid.

The source of a scholarship derives from proven merit, whether in the form of academic excellence or athletic ability. You can even get a scholarship based on a trait, such as your background. By contrast a student can seek a grant on the basis of his needs, financial or otherwise, in the form of federal or state aid.  

If you are seeking a grant or a scholarship, you must start the process early. Perform sufficient research as there are many requirements that you may not be aware of, such as, for instance, your General Performance Average (GPA).

Federal Grants

Federal grants are usually awarded to students who face financial difficulties. While a federal grant is virtually an offer of free money to spend on your college education, you need to be aware that you would be competing with many others for such grants. Hence, you would need to research thoroughly and put in your request as early as possible. An applicant for a federal grant must fulfil the requirements defined under FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which includes furnishing of information about the prospective student's finances.

Pell Grant is one of the largest, and, needless to say, most popular federal grants. There are several other grant options that students can avail. A grant by definition does not have to be repaid. However, you must ensure that you meet every criterion in every way, or you could face the unpleasant prospect of having to repay the grant amount at a later date.

State Grants

Often, a state may offer grants to ensure that students stay within the state and attend a local college. While state grants may consider either the needs or merits of a student applicant, they usually look at the student's FAFSA information to help decide whether to consider the student's request and how much grant to award.

Academic and Merit-based Scholarships

These are very competitive and given on the basis of strong academic performance such as high grades and high ranking within a class. Some merit-based scholarships are even given on the basis of athletic or artistic merit, rather than academic ability.

Race and Nationality Scholarships

Substantial financial aid is also given to prospective students based on their race or nationality. The motive behind such an award is to promote equal higher education opportunities.

Health, Disability, Relation to a Cancer Victim

The presence of disability and health problems can make a prospective student eligible to receive a scholarship. Such scholarships are awarded by organizations that seek to highlight the condition of the recipient student or merely to ensure that a disabled person can pursue his/ her education even as he/ she combats the illness. Children of cancer victims can also seek such scholarships; they can gather relevant information from their healthcare providers or related organizations.

Military

There are USAF programs devised to help needy students through college by offering to cover the bulk of the expenses relating to college courses. The students may also be offered stipends while they study. Three years of military service will qualify a veteran to receive benefits that cover college fees. ROTC scholarships offered by Army, Air Force, or Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps have become much sought after.

Community Service/Volunteering

A prospective student could also become eligible for a scholarship by helping others. Volunteering during his/ her gap year could help make a student eligible to receive a sum towards his college expenses. That apart, volunteering can also be showed off by students on their applications. Crisis support, children in need, and disaster relief are some areas a student could choose to volunteer in. Students who care for the environment may opt to volunteer with Green Volunteers. 

Elliot Kravitz, ATP
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