Paying for School

Financial Aid Info

FAFSA: The big daddy of them all--all students attending US college need to fill out the FAFSA to receive financial aid. Remember, filing the FAFSA should be free. Don't let anyone charge you to do it. You will need last year's tax info and 15 min.

Also located on the FAFSA site is the FAFSA4Caster, which allows you to estimate your college costs without actually submitting the FAFSA. Also look at the Federal Student Aid site. Online Colleges.net offers a terrific and very detailed overview of the FAFSA process, including all the frequently asked questions. It's a great one page resource for when you get tired of clicking all over the government site!

Publication 970: Pub 970 outlines all the tax benefits for education, including the income tax credit programs.

College Goal Sunday is a non-profit organization which provides info on FAFSA filing workshops all across the country. Click the link to find one in your area.

Mapping Your Future is a comprehensive financial aid site that includes information on debt, not just student debt but also credit card debt, bank accounts, budgeting, and establishing yourself financially. I especially like the "Debt Wizard," which allows you to determine how much you should borrow based on your salary and how much salary you need to pay off what you've borrowed!

SavingforCollege.com has lots of calculators and great advice about 529s and other types of college savings accounts, including how they will affect your taxes and your child's financial aid awards. Super important!

Scholarship search

When evaluating scholarship search sites, be wary of sites that ask for pages and pages of demographic information. They may be in the business of selling your info to third-parties, and not just colleges!

Fastweb maintains a database of more than 1.5 million scholarships. Also find tips for scholarship applications, and lists of winners.

Big Future, the College Board's website, also has a scholarship database. It's particularly useful for students who are eligible for military scholarships.

College Greenlight not only offers admissions advice, they also have an extensive scholarship database. Their interface allows you to mark and sort those scholarships that interest you so when you come back later, you can find them easily. No scrolling through pages and pages of entries!

StudentScholarshipSearch.com asks only five questions to begin matching you to scholarships. Their service is limited to students in high school, but you can begin to look for scholarships as soon as ninth grade!

Raise.Me helps students find micro-scholarships from colleges around the country. The profile required is extensive, but you are rewarded for everything you have done in high school, from drama club, to swim team, to your ACT score.

Major lists of scholarship opportunities

Beyond the GI Bill: If you or a member of your family has served our country in the armed forces, click this link to find out about college scholarships and grants available to veterans.

The National Society of High School Scholars offers a number of scholarships in a broad range of interest areas from Anti-Bullying to STEM careers. These scholarships are targeted to high school seniors and generally go to those who are under-represented in their career fields.

The American Psychological Association has a vast database of scholarships and grants available to students with interests in psychology. Click the link for a run-down of programs available to high school seniors and undergraduate students.

UNCF/Merck Science Initiative: UMSI brings together UNCF, The Merck Company Foundation and Merck Global Diversity Inclusion to offer 37 annual awards to outstanding African American students and postdoctoral researchers:

  • 15 undergraduate scholarships
  • 12 graduate dissertation fellowships
  • 10 postdoctoral research fellowships

But besides funds for tuition, room and board and fees, there's also institutional support through grants to the science departments of award recipients and research grants. And along with knowledge, you'll develop a career, with hands-on research training, mentoring relationships and networking and career advancement through the Association of UNCF/Merck Fellows.