As college costs skyrocket, even most well-heeled parents are looking for ways to help soften the blow of paying for tuition, books and all of the other expenses involved with getting a degree.
Although the various rules and submission forms can be a bit confusing, the criteria for qualifying for financial aid is pretty basic.
Most depends on your financial situation, such as whether or not you are financially independent, or whether you remain dependent on your parents for support.
Why everyone should apply for financial aid
Surprisingly, financial need is also calculated against the tuition costs and other fees that colleges charge. So if you are in a higher income bracket, but are planning to go to a high-priced school, you just may be in luck when it comes to qualifying for some type of aid.
Applying for financial aid - the earlier the better
Anyone who wants their 'slice of the pie' should always pay close attention to the deadlines for federal or state financial aid forms - which are usually set in early spring within the same year you plan on attending college. Getting all the proper forms in early means getting a jump on other applicants for that finite amount of government money available to students each year.
Just up ahead, check out more resources available around the Web on student financial aid with additional information on how fund a college education without breaking the bank...
FAFSA - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first step for applying online for U.S. government subsidized loans, grants and work study programs. Most college base their financial aid awards on the results of this form. Includes instructions, worksheets, a student guide, and all-important deadlines. Apply early - even if you are not sure which schools to send the results to..
FinAid - Another top spot to collect information on financial aid, this
one is still the best for detailed information on loans, grants, military and other types of aid. The tools are excellent. Financial Aid Officers actually recommend this site to students, and Forbes has also picked it as a favorite. The link to one of the best private scholarship databases can turn up funds that are not based on your income. All of the services are free of charge and free of scams.
Scholarship America - Check out this clearinghouse for open scholarship featuring a great list of open scholarships, free ebook for parents, and other helpful tips and advice for getting through college without taking out massive student loans.
Sallie Mae - The home site of Sallie Mae - the Student Loan Marketing Association - offering clear and comprehensive facts and information on applying for and managing student loan debt. Sections on tax plans, planning ahead sections for parents, and check out the bottom right hand corner to access the WiredScholar database of scholarships...
International Education Financial Aid - IEFA manages a network of financial aid related sites with links to college scholarship and grant information, a searchable information database for international students, and lots more.
Back to College - Returning to college as an adult has special challenges not the least of which is paying for the course work. Here you'll find a site geared to the non-traditional student aid featuring an online forum and tips on finding ways for on-the-job financial aid.