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What kind of financial aid is available?
When do I start planning?
Isn't this a lot of work?
Tools to Estimate College Costs
Federal Government Financial Aid Applications and Related Information
California Financial Aid Applications, Scholarships, and Related Information
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What kind of financial aid is available?

There are a number of ways to pay for your education:

Federal Government Programs

Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from the U.S. Government is available to:

  • All qualifying students (not just full-time or four-year college students).
  • Any qualifying student, whether you go to a community college or private university.

Grants and scholarships

  • Money awards that do not need to be paid back.
  • Often called "gift aid" or "free money."
  • May be based on financial need or a student's grades or special talents.

Churches, professional associations, cultural groups and hospitals often give local scholarships. Local scholarships are easiest to obtain.

Loans

  • Money that you borrow for your education.
  • You will pay back your loan once you finish school.
  • The interest is usually low.
  • Some loans can be "forgiven" if you work in certain under-served areas like county hospitals in low-income communities. This type of repayment is call "loan-forgiveness."

Local Scholarships

  • Will not be on national web sites. Check with your high school or college counselor.
  • May be small ($200) or large ($5,000).
  • You may have a much better chance locally than you do for the national scholarships because local scholarships often receive only a few dozen applicants, so your competition is much smaller.

Student employment or work-study

  • Money that students work for as part of their financial aid.
  • An example would be working 10–15 hours a week in the college library or health center.

You should also check with:

  • Local civic groups (Kiwanis, Rotary)
  • Local hospitals and hospital auxiliaries or volunteer groups
  • Churches
  • Professional associations
  • Ethnic and Cultural Groups
  • Credit Unions

Scholarship Scams

Beware of Scholarship Scams. The Federal Trade Commission cautions parents and students to look and listen for these lines:

  1. "The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
    No one can guarantee that they can get you a grant or scholarship. Refund guarantees often have conditions. Get refund policies in writing — before you pay.
  2. "You can't get this information anywhere else."
    There are many free lists of scholarships. Check with your school or library before you pay someone to do the work for you.
  3. "May I have your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship?"
    Do not give out your credit card or bank account number on the phone. Get information in writing first. It may be a set-up for an unauthorized withdrawal.
  4. "We'll do all the work."
    You must apply for scholarships or grants. There's no way around it.
  5. "The scholarship will cost some money."
    Do not pay anyone who says they are "holding" a scholarship or grant for you. Free money should not cost anything.
  6. "You've been selected by a 'national foundation' to receive a scholarship," or
    "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.
    Make sure a foundation or program is legitimate before you send them money.
  7. If you suspect a scam, Fight back! Bring all materials and letters to your guidance office or a person in a local college’s financial aid office for advice.

You can report the offer to:

The Better Business Bureau

The National Fraud Information Center