By: Ken Austin
When it comes to financial aid for college there are primarily two sources: privately funded financial aid and federally funded financial aid.
When applying for or receiving either you need to make sure that you are fully aware of all the fine print involved. Most people find that the expenses of college are much too great to afford without assistance of some sort. If you are a parent chances are that you will some day face the need to pay college tuition along with the worry of how on earth you will manage to accomplish that goal.
The problem is that not every student who wishes to attend college qualifies for either federally funded student aid or the vast majority of scholarships that require either exceptional grades or a specific and exceptional talent in order to receive. For those students thinking outside the box may be necessary in order to receive the much needed educational assistance or financial aid.
If you do not qualify for federal financial aid for your children, then you may want to consider the benefit of other scholarship options. One common scholarship option that is often overlooked is the ROTC program that most universities offer. There is a price to pay for these scholarships but many find that price provides valuable experience and is well worth the education and the experience received during the process. If your child is interested in the possibility of a military career or becoming a military officer, this is a great way to go.
As a parent you may want to see what sort of, if any, flexible spending accounts your state has set up that can help you set aside money for college expenses for your children. Many states have these and there are programs such as Upromise that allows you and others to dedicate the spending from a credit card to be used as a 'match' program for your child's college funds.
While it isn't a dollar for dollar match of your credit card spending every little bit helps. The real beauty of programs like Upromise is that you can enlist the help of family in friends when saving for your child's college educational expenses. Regardless, it is never too early to begin saving for your child's college education and these expenses seem to be rising exponentially.
There are many programs that exist to help minorities and women pay for their educational expenses. Some of these scholarships are needs based while some of them are solely merit based. On all levels competition is fierce, however, if you qualify for any of these scholarships you would be doing yourself a disservice not to apply for them. You never know when your application might be the one that captures the attention of the scholarship committee.
The one thing you should keep in mind is to read all the instructions, make copies of everything, and follow the directions. You'd be amazed at how many worth applicants are denied scholarships each year because they did not follow the directions on the application properly. Another thing you should keep in mind is neatness. You are much more likely to win a scholarship if the committee can actually read your application.
There are many great opportunities for financial assistance when it comes to college. The trick is typically in finding the great sources. Your college's financial aid office is an excellent source of information for financial aid as is your high school counselor. See what your options are before you sacrifice the dream of a college education.