College is expensive with an average cost of a four-year private school being $34,740 in 2017-2018. Unless you want to spend a big portion of your adult life paying back your student loan you’d better find another way to get some (or all) money to invest in your future education. How does free money for college sound? Are you ready to figure out the system to find enough money for college to avoid student loans completely? The fact is that practically everyone is eligible for some kind of scholarship or grant, you just need to put in some effort and scratch below the surface and find the right one for you and your needs. Keep on reading and find out various options on how to get free money for college.
Basic Advice to Get Free Money for College
- Have a talk with your high school counselor. It is their job to inform you and provide services regarding finding a right option for you.
- Search the Internet, join the forums, talk to people. Simply put, engage in finding the right scholarship or grant so you won’t have to work full time during your studies (and miss a party or two)
- FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is required for most of scholarships and grants. Experts say the best time to fill it out is as early as January as it works according to first-come, first-serve principle. Fill it out carefully, honestly and on time.
- Apply for many scholarships and do it every year.
Grants and Scholarships
As much as these two terms are frequently confused, there is a distinctive difference between them and understanding it might help you decide which option is better for you. What both will do is offer you financial aid which you don’t need to repay (unlike student loans).
A scholarship helps you according to your merits (academic performance, athletic ability, etc.) or some traits (background, etc.) and it can come from different sources while a grant is based on your needs (financial, etc.) and it comes from federal or state financial aid.
Make sure you start on time and do your research well as there are always requirements you need to meet (certain GPA, etc.)
Students with financial difficulties are most likely to receive a federal grant. A federal grant is literally free money for college. These grants are competitive so the advice about having to research and apply on time really needs to be taken seriously. You are required to fulfill FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and supply the information about your finances. One of the biggest and most popular federal Grants is Pell Grant but there is a variety of Federal Student Grant Programs. While grants generally don’t need to be repaid, make sure you meet all the requirements so you don’t get yourself in an unpleasant situation of repaying a grant.
Believe it or not your state wants you to stay there and to study locally so they will offer you free money for college if you do stay local. They also use FAFSA information to work out if and how much financial assistance you need. State grants can be based on merits or needs.
Student athletes face even more challenges when figuring out how to find resources for college. Working is practically out of the question because between lectures, sports and studying, there is just not enough time. It is not impossible to find the right scholarship but, like every scholarship, you need to know where to look. You should consult your coach or try to go to colleges that offer financial aid for athletes. Any other organization you can think of that might offer you money based on the sport you play might do the trick. There are national and local scholarships for athletes. The usual requirement is to play any sport at your school but sometimes you are required to play a specific one. In some cases it is not even necessary to be on your college sports team. You can apply for additional sports scholarship even if you have applied for another one.
Academic and Merit-Based Scholarships
Some of the most competitive scholarships are academic or merit based scholarships. Strong grades are a must as well as high ranking in your class. Academic scholarships are merit-based but merit scholarships don’t have to be academic-based as they can be awarded according to artistic or even athletic achievement.
Race and Nationality Scholarships
Health, Disability, Relation to a Cancer Victim
If you have a health problem or disability you might be eligible for some of the scholarships from organizations aiming to inform the public about the condition or just help you pursue your higher education while you fight the illness. As far as cancer is concerned the same opportunity goes if you are a child of a cancer victim. Contact your healthcare provider or related organizations as they can help you out finding the right scholarship for you.
Some of the United States Armed Forces programs can offer to cover most or all of your college courses expenses. And not only that, but they will pay you a stipend while studying. In addition, if you serve your country for three years, your veteran benefits will cover tuition for every public college. Air Force, Army, or Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps offer highly popular ROTC scholarships.
A scholarship that rewards you for helping others? Try volunteering and double the benefit. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Learn and Serve America pay out awards to those who have completed service (for example during your gap year). Volunteering provides you with precious experience in helping others and you will get certain amount of money to help out your college budget. Not to mention something to show off on your applications. The areas you can choose to volunteer at range from disaster relief and children in need to crisis support. Green Volunteers offer you the opportunity to care about the environment in exchange for a scholarship while websites like VolunteerMatch match prospective volunteers with their area of interest.
There are so many non-conventional scholarships that reward free money for college based on certain talents or just traits. There are even scholarships for those who consider themselves atheist, agnostic, or non-religious, scholarships for tall people, those who research potatoes, etc. We cannot stress enough: almost everybody can get some kind of scholarship! Do the research or find more here.
We even have our own $2,000 annual scholarship program, don’t forget to apply!
Other Ways to Get Free Money for College
Community groups, churches, and other various local groups often offer smaller awards for college but they are easier to win. They offer scholarships only to those who are active members of their organizations, so just knock on their door and see what they offer.
By registering on some of the crowdfunding sites you can collect (strangers’) donations for studying. Check out sites like GoFundMe or ScholarMatch and you can raise money to help pay for your studies. You can even use it for studying abroad, books, accommodation, etc. Just be honest and tell your story, your plans, and ambitions, share it on social media and let’s see what will happen. Don’t forget to share it with all your friends and family.
Many employers are willing to provide financial aid to their workers who attend college or even their workers’ children and grandchildren. The obvious requirement is to study in the field of your work.
More Tips to Cut down Your College Costs
- Try a local community college. If money is an issue why not consider taking general education courses at much lower price (about a half) and only then move on to finish your degree at a four-year institution?
- Find a part-time job while in college. Of course you can work and study. Most students usually work only part-time as they are spending most of their time studying or at lectures, but it doesn’t have to be a typical job (like pizza delivery, etc.). You have so many other options (office worker, fancy restaurant server, etc.) if you get everything organized and, of course, online jobs are always a great idea. Another possibility is to attend a work college where you work for about 20 hours a week in exchange for lowering your college costs. Whatever job you decide on, remember: school is a priority!
- Live at home. Living on campus is a one-of-a-kind experience but it can cost you quite a lot. If you want to cut down on your total college expenses move back home if your parents live nearby. Another idea is to rent an apartment and share the costs with your roommates.
- Take a year off and save up money. It will give you some extra time to rethink about your future education and allow you to find a job and save up a decent amount of money for college. Be smart and don’t waste your gap year but make the most of it by working and gaining necessary experience.
Unless you want to become a part of a student loan debt statistics take advantage of all types of financial resources and finding as much free money for college as you can will help you. Do the research, start early (as early as junior year) and take your time in finding what works for you. Be careful not to become a victim of scam sites while searching, you should never have to pay to apply or be aligible for a scholarship.
Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Rates
Here are our top student loan refinance picks for 2019
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Student Debt Relief Loan Refinancing Advertiser Disclosure
College Ave: College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.
1 – The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
2 – $5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. Information advertised valid as of 04/26/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 – This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
Earnest: To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.