Grants for Students

May 13, 2008
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Every few days I receive requests from parents of high school students asking if I can help them secure grants to pay for their kids’ college expenses.

My answer is always the same.  Don’t pay anyone to get grants for college!

It’s just not necessary, and most of the programs that promise to get you college grant funding are simply taking your money to do something you can easily do yourself.   There are also a number of scholarship scams.  Tipoffs for possible scams include:

  • College funding seminars – These are usually held to entice you into buying services.  Don’t bother unless they are sponsored by a college or other legitimate organization.
  • Processing fees – Legitimate scholarship or grant programs will not require a fee.
  • No application requirements – Legitimate scholarship or grant programs almost always require an application process, usually with an essay.
  • “Guaranteed” scholarship – no real scholarship comes with a guarantee.  If your student qualifies for the scholarship, he or she still has to fufill the basic requirements of the program.

If you live in the U.S., here’s a little roadmap.  The best time to start researching funding possibilities is around the beginning of your child’s junior year in high school.  But if you didn’t begin that early, don’t be discouraged.  Just start the process now.

First, talk to your student’s high school guidance counselor.  He or she will likely have good advice for you, and a wide variety of resources. He can tell you about state and local funding.  Some high schools provide better support than others, but that’s the place to begin.  Guidance counselors will also make sure your student is taking the necessary courses to get into college.  If your child is home-schooled, you can still access information from your school district or the guidance counselor at your local school.  It may take a little more work to make that connection, but your tax dollars support that school district, and you’re entitled to those services. 

Next, talk to your student about colleges he or she may want to attend.  Whether he’s considering a top university, a less competitive college, or a local junior college, every college has a Financial Aid Office.   The financial aid counselors who work there have only one job, to help you figure out how to pay for college.  They will tell you about scholarships and grants available through the college itself, as well as outside resources.  Generally, your student does not have to have been accepted by the college in order for you to receive information and assistance about financial assistance options.

Parents often assume they will not be able to afford a private school.  While it is true that public colleges and universities are generally less expensive, private colleges have much more grant and scholarship money to give away.  So don’t make any decisions or exclude any options until you talk to the Financial Aid Office of the institution.

Next, set up accounts for your student on the following websites:
www.FastWeb.com
www.Scholarships.com

These are database type sites that match all the variables on your student’s profile (interests, activities, academic goals, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc.) with the available grants and scholarships.  Most students will receive notice of dozens of possible sources of funding every month.  Apply for every one that looks promising.

Here are some other websites that you may find useful:
http://studentaid.ed.gov
http://www.collegescholarships.org
www.collegeview.com
www.collegeboard.com
www.students.gov

There are also hundeds of websites that look legitimate, but upon closer inspection, you’ll discover they are “fronts” designed to lead you into signing up for various email lists.  Use your discretion and judgement as you research.

By the end of February in your child’s senior year of high school, you will need to have completed the Free Application for Financial Student Aid, or FAFSA.  You can do this through your high school guidance counselor, or online at:  http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/  You’ll need your previous year’s tax return.  If you use the online application, you’ll be asked to obtain PIN numbers for yourself and your student.  Be sure to save those PIN numbers.  You’ll need them whenever you have to access the information or make any modifications.

The FAFSA determines how much basic federal assistance you will receive, in the form of grants, work study, and non-secured loans.  These loans are available to you regardless of credit.  It is also possible to obtain secured loans, based on your credit.  However, for many American families, that will not be necessary.

A few weeks after you submit your FAFSA, you’ll receive an estimate of how much family support will be required for your student.  Federal assistance is tied to tuition costs, and varies according to which college your student attends.  So if he or she gets accepted at an expensive private college, the government will pay a proportionately higher amount than at a local junior college.  The FAFSA report will also be sent to the colleges you specified in the application.

Once you receive the FAFSA report, go back to the college Financial Aid offices, and find out exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay.  If your student has applied for and received aid from the college itself, from their scholarship and grant funds, that will be deducted from your portion.  It is also often possible to negotiate with the Financial Aid and Admissions counselors, particularly if your student brings something to the table.  For example, students with high grades or athletic or other specialized talents are often highly desirable to schools, as are minority students when their ethnic group is under represented in that college.

As you research possible sources of assistance, be sure to look locally.  Often local civic organizations and corporations offer grants to students in their area.  Even if you don’t find a notice of such assistance, many civic groups and companies are open to letters of request from students.

Check into possible assistance from your employer, as well as any religious, service, or fraternal organizations to which you, your spouse, your parents or your student belong.

Although you may be the person initially gathering the information, encourage your student to take the lead in the search for funding.  His goals, interests, and accomplishments will open the way to college scholarships and grants.  While the process can be tedious (she’ll get tired of writing essays), it is also very empowering.  The key is approach college funding as a project.  Be committed and keep applying.  Many students receive thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants, simply because they applied.

One more note:  if your student is not academically-oriented, and is interested in learning a good trade, look first to your local community college.  There are a host of private “colleges” that offer to teach students medical technology, office skills, electronic, mechanics, and more.  Many of these are unreasonably expensive, and exist to create profit for their investors.  You can almost always learn the same skills, often with better education and certification, from a junior college at a fraction of the tuition cost.

In my next post, I’ll share more information about college funding.

For the reasons I’ve given above, I never accept anyone into our Grants Training Classes to learn how to get college money. 

So who should enroll in the Grants Training Classes?  The answer is: anyone who’s looking for money to start or fund existing community or professonal projects, and anyone who is interested in writing grants for a living.  Graduates of our Grants Training Classes are eligible to become Certified Grant Writers who can go to work for organizations or work as independent grants consultants.

You’ll learn:

  • How and where to find grants
  • How to write grant winning proposals
  • How to approach funders, and how to interest them in giving you money
  • How to set up a non-profit corporation
  • How to use non-profits to maximize your access to grants
  • Everything about Government, Corporate, and Foundation grants.

These are 9-week email classes that I teach personally.  They are designed for working adults, with maximum convenience and flexibility.  Only 15 students are accepted in each class, so that every student gets lots of personal attention.

And you couldn’t pick a better time to enroll.  Right now we’re offering special pricing, as part of our Economic Stimulus Package sale.  Put that money you’re getting back from the government into education for your future economic well being!

www.GrantMeRich.com/classes.htm

Also included in the sale is our real estate grant product, The New American Land Rush: How to Buy Real Estate with Government Money:

www.NewAmericanLandRush.com

Get both the classes and Land Rush, and you’ll find exceptional savings.

One Response to Grants for Students

  1. College Scholarships on May 13, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    As someone who has been part of this program, I highly recomend your site and products on College funding, Grants and scholarships. With many scams and other less desirable products out there, I can say that this is by far the best.

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