Finding Free Financial Help to Continue Your Education

In today’s world owning a college degree is nearly a necessity in order to advance up the career ladder. Unfortunately, tuition costs for higher education continue to rise and most students are finding they need some sort of financial aid to help pay for it. Loans are available to almost all students, but they only add to the student’s debt after they graduate. Scholarships are not as easy to receive, but they are well worth it since they help pay for tuition and books but do not need to be repaid. Finding the right scholarship is a matter of knowing where to begin looking.

The first step a student should take is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. It can be found online or in the financial aid office. It needs to be filled out by anyone hoping to receive federal aid, such as the Pell Grant. Other sources of scholarships include private companies, local organizations and professional groups.

*Other government grants – The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant is made available to students who have completed the FAFSA and show an extreme financial need. Students who had a parent that was killed during a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan after 2001 are also eligible for federal money.

*Private companies – Many large corporations provide scholarships to students as a way to give back to the community in which they do business. Often times these are open to children of employees. For example, the Campbell Soup Co. provides thousands of dollars in scholarships to students every year. In addition, many companies will offer to help pay expenses for employees who want to continue their education. The advanced degree will be beneficial to the company and it may require the employee to continue to work at the same place for a certain amount of time in exchange for the aid.

*Local organizations – Groups like Rotary clubs, American Legions and Optimists all raise funds throughout the year to give back to their community. Frequently a part of those funds are used to provide scholarships to area students.

*Professional groups – In an effort to encourage others to enter their profession, many professional groups offer scholarships to students planning on studying in that specific field. Some, like the Society of Women Engineers Scholarship, offer financial aid exclusively to female students who are trying to make a career in that area.

Most students need some sort of financial aid to help pay for college. Scholarships provide money for tuition and books and help reduce the amount of money a student may have to borrow to continue their education. They are also highly competitive, so finding the right one is a matter of knowing where to look and beginning the search.