According to U.S. News, the average tuition for a four year public college is roughly $20,000. If you plan on attending a private four year institution, the cost will almost double to a little more than $35,000 annually.
With the rising cost of tuition every year, more and more students are turning to financial aid to help them with their education. In fact, according to the American Association of State College and Universities, approximately $275 million dollars were provided during the 2009 and 2010 school year in the form of state based aid. In order for you to take advantage of the help that’s available, you’ll need to know where to start:
Choosing The Right College and Major
The first step in obtaining your education isn’t researching scholarships and grants. Why? Many times, grants and scholarships will require the student to be accepted or enrolled in college with a determined major before they can qualify for aid. So, your first step should always be to find the right college and determine what major you want. Here are just a few steps to help you accomplish this.
- Determine where you want to go; not the exact college necessarily, but the location. If you love the support of your family, you may want to choose an in-state school. If you are adventurous and have always dreamed of striking out on your own, an out-of-state college may be the right option.
- When choosing a college, don’t let the size or the name intimidate you or sway your decision. Large colleges aren’t always the best choice for some students, especially those who would benefit from the intimate and personal experience of a university with a smaller population. The name of the college doesn’t matter either; your future employers will be look for experience, skill, and education, not your college pedigree. Search for a college that will provide you with these qualities, even if they aren’t part of the Ivy League.
- Find a college that will provide you with the experiences you need. Visit university websites for information about faculty, events, sports, and different clubs. Send an email to each college admission’s officer and ask to talk to prior students, so you can hear first-hand what the college is like.
- Choosing a major doesn’t have to be difficult, but it will take some thought. Consider your skills, what you love to do, your hobbies, and your interests. Then, think about what type of life you want; do you want to travel, work in an office, work outside? Explore the different majors available at the college of your choosing, take a look at the classes each one requires, and you will have no problem finding the right major.
Top 3 Places to Look for Scholarships
Searching for the best scholarships online isn’t always easy, especially if you are looking for ones that fill a specific need. Before you lose hope, consider looking into these three websites for the best scholarship information available.
- College Grants and Scholarships– This website is dedicated to listing a variety of scholarships and grants available to students who need assistance in earning their degree. Not only will you find information about certain scholarships, but you will also find helpful suggestions on how to apply and when to apply.
- FastWeb– This scholarship site provides students with the technology needed to match them to the perfect scholarship. Students can view a massive database of scholarships, enter sweepstakes for additional money for college, and learn the ins and outs of applying and getting through college.
- Scholarships.com– Aside from providing a large database of almost every scholarship available to college students, this website also assists in helping you find the right college and makes it easy for colleges to find you and recruit you.
Best Times to Start Applying for Scholarships
Most scholarships have deadlines that fall between January and May, in order to allow plenty of time for judges and organizations to select the scholarship winner before the fall term begins. Once you find the scholarships you want to apply for, keep track of each of their deadlines. Apply for the scholarships as early as possible for a better chance of making it to the top of the stack.
Are you ready for a $20,000 per year tuition? If not, consider applying for financial aid. The help is out there and it really is possible to earn a degree at little to no cost to you.