Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Scholarships: Where to find Money for Returning to or Beginning College

Money for College Education
Attending college is expensive.  Money was another reason I attended a community college.  Seven people.  One paycheck.  Community colleges are less expensive than four-year institutions.  But as I continued in my college journey, I discovered that I could receive money to help pay for college.  I became determined not to pay for the next leg of my college journey.

It’s helpful to see if you qualify for any scholarships being offered.  For non-traditional students [usually students over 30 years of age] the task can seem daunting. 

If you work outside the home, check with Human Resources to see if your company offers tuition reimbursement for college courses or for an undergrad degree.  Notice this is usually reimbursement.  You may need to lay out the money first and then show your passing grades to be reimbursed after the semester. 

Outside of any scholarships or reimbursement offered at your personal work, I would try the Financial Aid Office of the educational institution you wish to attend. 

If you were in the United States military or fought in one of the conflicts, under the G.I. bill the military may pay for your college education. 

These three places are always best to try first as the competition will be far less than blanket scholarships found on the web.  Always try local first.  There are groups and professions that offer smaller scholarships for attending college, but you need to check the age requirements.  Also, many scholarships are financial needs based. 

All financial aid requests require that you complete a FAFSA form and file it.  FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Another good thing to know is the difference between a grant and a student loan.  Grants are financial aid usually based on financial need.  They do not need to be repaid unless you withdraw from school.  Then you may owe a refund.  Federal, state, and college grants are available if you meet the requirements.

Student loans accrue interest, sometimes while you are attending college, and need to be paid back to the institution giving the money within a set time frame.  

Grants and scholarships abound online when I googled scholarship for women, but I don’t pretend to know all.  I received a Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania as I prepared to graduate from my community college.  This scholarship was based on academic standing, awards achieved, and volunteer work performed during my community college years.  In other words, now I had the proof needed for four-year colleges to offer me money to attend their institutions.  

How about you?  Did you win or receive any scholarships or grants to go to college?  Please share any information you may have to help others afford the expense of a college education.  Thank you.