Research scholarships and grants
Remember, financial aid isn’t restricted to the money you get a lender or your schools of choice to give you. There are also a plethora of smaller scholarships and grants out there many students can apply for.
“The funding for college is out there, but you have to do your research,” de Baca says. For instance, she points out, many religious or faith-based organizations offer assistance to stand-out members of their congregations. Employers may also have scholarships set aside for their worker’s children.
Look for these opportunities by scouring the internet or rifling through some scholarships books. You also can check out the seven off-the-beaten path scholarships mentioned in this MainStreet round up to get started!
Think about money when making an academic decision
Wanting to go to the schools at the top of most “best” lists is certainly admirable, but you shouldn’t let status lead you to enroll in a school you really can’t afford.
“In recent decades, students have become very concerned with prestige and status,” de Baca says. “But you need to consider the trade-off.”
If a school is truly out of your price range or you don’t plan on majoring in field that is likely to net a job with a salary high enough to justify the pricey degree, it may be a good idea to opt for a state university or a community college instead.
But only after exploring all your options
Of course, you don’t want to make your final decision before having a concrete idea of how much money each college or university may be willing to put towards your education. According to Grosz, while big name or Ivy League universities may have much higher tuition, they also tend to carry bigger endowment or scholarship funds. As such, students with stellar academic records shouldn’t write off a school they assume will be out of their cost range.
“It’s tough because you do have to pay for all your applications,” she says, before urging students to keep their options open if there is a school they are particularly interested in, since they may offer more aid than their smaller counterparts.