Your Energy, Your Future February 2011

How to make college more affordable

Millions of families each year face the question of how to pay for college. And it’s not one that’s easily answered without the help of some kind of financial aid.
Student

Millions of families each year face the question of how to pay for college. And it’s not one that’s easily answered without the help of some kind of financial aid. A survey by The Princeton Review found that 86 percent of college applicants and parents of applicants said that financial aid would be “very necessary.”

In 2009–10, there was more than $199 billion of financial aid distributed to undergraduate and graduate students in the form of grants, federal loans, work-study, and tax credits and deductions, according to “Trends in Student Aid 2010,” by The College Board. The same report said that full-time undergraduate students received an average of $1,461 in financial aid. So the good news is that there is money for college out there — if you know where to look.

Your electric cooperative may be one of those sources.

Here are some other resources to help you make college more affordable:

Look at affiliations and memberships

Past and present employers, unions, military service, memberships, activities and hobbies can all be sources for college funds. A parent or grandparent’s membership in an organization may get a student the aid they need. An example of this is Foresters Competitive Scholarships. Eligible Foresters members and their families can apply for scholarships for community service as well as good grades. “Every year Foresters awards 350 Competitive Scholarships as part of its member benefits because a solid education only makes for a brighter future,” says Kasia Czarski, chief membership and marketing officer at Foresters, a life insurance provider. For more information about the program, visit www.foresters.com/scholarships.

Take classes that transfer

Increasingly, folks are going the community college route. You start with classes at a community college and then transfer the credits to a four-year institution. It’s far less expensive and can cut time and money off the cost of a four-year college or university program. You can also plan early by taking advanced placement classes while in high school. Take summer classes and an extra class per semester to get a leg up on college credit requirements.

Web research

Take advantage of the Internet to search out the scholarship — or scholarships — right for you. Here are resources to get you started:

Good, general starting places include www.scholarships.com, www.fastweb.com, and www.collegeboard.org.

Latino students can search for scholarships at www.maldef.org or www.haceonline.org. For other minority scholarships, visit www.finaid.org.

For “thinking out of the box” scholarships — such as those for vegetarians, getting creative with duct tape, and even being left-handed — visit www.scholarships.com, and www.fastweb.com.

A word of caution: Be alert to scams. If you have to pay in order to compete for a scholarship, it may be a scam. Learn more about scholarship scams at www.ftc.gov.

Service and professional groups

Many service organizations such as the Scouts, VISTA and Teach for America offer scholarships. Corporate foundations are an excellent source of financial aid. (They may require a number of years of service to that organization in return.) If you know what you want to study, look into professional associations affiliated with that career. Many, including associations for political science, nursing and physical therapy, offer scholarships to help attract students to their fields.

—Family Features.com

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