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FREE COLLEGE MONEY!

Get Someone Else to Pay for College at Any Age

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction...........................................................................................................4
What College Really Costs ...................................................................................5
The Costs of Two-year Colleges .......................................................................6
The Cost of Four-year Universities....................................................................7
Tuition...................................................................................................................8
Room and Board, Meal Plans, and other Fees.....................................................9
Living Arrangements – Off-Campus or On-Campus?........................................9
You Gotta Eat..................................................................................................10
Other Fees ......................................................................................................10
Family Financial Support for College..................................................................11
Service Programs that Offer Students Money for College ..................................13
Americorps..........................................................................................................14
The Peace Corps................................................................................................15
ROTC..................................................................................................................17
Scholarships .......................................................................................................18
When to Apply for Scholarships..........................................................................19
Where to Look for Scholarships..........................................................................20
Finding Scholarship Information Online..............................................................21
Avoiding Scholarship Scams on the Internet ......................................................22
Scholarships for Community Service..................................................................22
Sports Scholarships............................................................................................24
Academic Scholarships.......................................................................................26
Religious and Ethnic Scholarships......................................................................27
Scholarships Based on Areas of Study...............................................................28
Tips for Filling out Scholarship Applications........................................................30
When Scholarships Aren’t Enough.....................................................................33
Types of Financial Aid.........................................................................................34
Grants .............................................................................................................35
Work Study......................................................................................................35
Loans ..............................................................................................................35
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FAFSA................................................................................................................36
How Financial Aid Works....................................................................................38
Pell Grants..........................................................................................................39
Student Loans.....................................................................................................41
Perkins Loan...................................................................................................41
Federal Stafford Loans....................................................................................42
Federal Family Education Loan Program........................................................42
Federal Direct Loan Program..........................................................................43
Parent PLUS Loan..........................................................................................43
Graduate PLUS Loan......................................................................................43
Private Loans ..................................................................................................44
Choosing a Lender..............................................................................................45
Tips for Choosing a Lender.................................................................................46
Who can get Federal Financial Aid? ...................................................................47
Tips for Parents on Getting Financial Aid for Children........................................49
Creative Ways to Get Money for College............................................................50
Money Saving Tips for College Students............................................................52
Non-traditional Students .....................................................................................55
Non-Traditional Students and Financial Aid........................................................56
Get your Boss to Pay for Your Education...........................................................58
Talking to your Boss about Financing your Education........................................59
Make a Plan....................................................................................................59
Making the Pitch..............................................................................................61
A Tuition Assistance or Reimbursement Contract...........................................62
Education Cost Planning for Parents ..................................................................64
529 Plans............................................................................................................65
529 Savings Plan............................................................................................65
529 Prepaid Tuition Plans ...............................................................................67
Upromise Accounts.............................................................................................69
College Saving Tips for Parents..........................................................................70
Teach your Kids to Save.....................................................................................71
Conclusion..........................................................................................................73






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INTRODUCTION

Getting a college degree can be very important when it comes to a career.
Studies have shown that people who have a college degree earn an average of
$20,000 more per year than people who don’t have a college degree. Can you
afford to just throw away $20,000? If not, getting a college degree is crucial to
your success.

People who hold college degrees also have more job options and have an easier
time finding jobs that offer good health care benefits, paid vacations, and other
perks.

Having a college degree doesn’t just make you qualified to work at a particular
job; it also shows the person hiring you that you have the traits essential to
success like determination, commitment, and the ability to learn and grow in an
environment.

You know that having a college degree is the key to success, but what do you do
when you can’t afford to go to school?

Maybe you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of money saved for tuition, or
maybe you had a good job but got laid off and now need to get a degree in order
to find work in another field, or maybe you are wanting to return to the workforce
after taking time off to have a family and now need a degree in order to get a job.

There are ways that you get other people to pay for your college education if you
are savvy and if you know where to look.


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There are lots of different methods that you can use to pay for college like
scholarships, grants, loans, re-training programs, and more. If you want to go to
college but find that you can’t by yourself afford to pay for the costs of an
education, don’t lose hope.

You can go to college no matter what your financial situation is!


WHAT COLLEGE REALLY COSTS

Sometimes it’s hard to get a realistic picture of how much you can really expect
to pay for a college education. Every school sets their own tuitions and fees. In
considering college costs, there are many variable factors like tuition, living costs,
college fees, the cost of books, and so on. Each college has some fees that are
mandatory like parking or student activities fees, and other fees that are only
charged to students in particular courses like lab fees or special equipment fees.

You have two options when it comes to choosing colleges; four-year universities
and two-year community colleges, also known in some parts of the country as
junior colleges. Community colleges in the past had a bad reputation because
they are not accredited to award Bachelor’s degrees and are usually more trade
oriented. But over the past two decades community colleges have added many
more course offerings in the general education and liberal arts categories.
Because of this, community college has become an affordable alternative to a
four-year university for students to take care of their general education
requirements.

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Community colleges offer a smaller number of classes than four-year
universities. That is because the emphasis for community colleges is on courses
for freshman and sophomore year students. Most community colleges have
course offerings and programs that are designed to prepare students to transfer
into a four-year school.

Many students now go to a two-year college and complete as many of their basic
required classes as they can and then they transfer into a four-year university,
usually at the end of two years. Community college tuition and fees are usually
much less expensive than a four-year school and students usually live off
campus. Both of these factors save students money while attending a community
college. Attending community college can be a smart way to make college more
affordable.

The Costs of Two-year Colleges

Every two-year college is different, but nationally, the cost of tuition and fees for a
full-time academic year at a two-year college range from $2000 to $5000, which
is less than half of the cost of tuition and fees at a four-year university. Some
states, to encourage attendance at community colleges, offer greatly reduced
tuition to students who live within a community college’s district. The tuition
savings for students who attend a community college within their district can be
huge.

Community colleges don’t offer the same kind of amenities that a four-year
university might offer. The vast majority of community colleges do not have
dorms, so students have to commute to school. However, many community
colleges still have first rate athletic facilities, libraries, computer labs, and other
facilities for students.

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The Cost of Four-year Universities

Four-year schools are traditional colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s
degrees. They are also called “degree granting institutions.” Tuition at these
schools is much higher than at community colleges. Even if you start with a two-
year school, you will have to eventually transfer to a four-year school in order to
earn a bachelor’s degree.

Four-year schools offer on campus dorms for students to live in. They also offer
advanced courses that community colleges cannot. Facilities at four-year schools
are often much more sophisticated and higher quality than community colleges.
Many four-year schools also have graduate and post-graduate course offerings,
which advance the quality of academic departments at those schools.

Four-year colleges and universities can be divided into public and private
schools. Public schools are state universities and range from chains of smaller
colleges that make up a state’s university system to huge state schools with up to
50,000 students.

Public schools receive funding from the state government, which usually offers
lower in-state tuition to state residents. Public schools, because of the public
subsidies and partly because of their size, are cheaper than private schools.
Tuition and fees at public four-year schools vary by state and school but range
from $5,000 to $15,000 per year.

Private schools are independent schools with no affiliation with a state. They
range from religious colleges to small-town liberal arts colleges to prestigious Ivy
League schools. Private four-year colleges often have very strong academic
requirements. They are hard to get into and hard to stay in. If you can get in to
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one, though, you will get a very high quality education because the academic
standards are so high.

Private four-year colleges are much smaller, from 1,000 to 20,000 students, than
larger state universities. The smaller size means smaller classes and better
contact with professors. You end up paying for the higher quality, though. Tuition
and fees at private four-year colleges will cost $15,000 to $30,000 a year.


TUITION

Tuition costs are broken down by college credit so each class might have a
different cost depending on how many credits the class counts for. For example,
a 4-credit upper level class will cost double what a 2-credit or 1-credit low level
remedial English class will cost. Graduate level courses are even more
expensive.

In many cases, colleges provide tuition cost estimates for interested students.
Those estimates are almost always assuming that the student is a full time
student taking at least 12 credits (three or four courses). If you are not planning
on attending school full time you can find out the per credit charge and use that
number to get a good estimate of what your tuition cost will be.

Over the past ten years, the cost of tuition has risen about 6% each year, and
some years even more. Therefore, if you are looking at the estimated cost of a
college, you can plan on the cost rising another 6% before you will enroll and
then each year as you go through college. In 2007 the estimated total fees for
public colleges and universities was between $13,000 and $15,000 per academic
year. The cost for private colleges and universities was estimated to be between
$30,000 and $40,000.

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Because tuition costs increase regularly, experts predict that the cost for one
year of college by the year 2020 could top $70,000. That seems like a lot of
money, but data has shown that the average starting salary offered to a college
graduate also rises in keeping with the cost of an education so in the long run
having a college degree is worth all the cost. Think of college costs as an
investment in your future earnings.


ROOM AND BOARD, MEAL PLANS, AND OTHER FEES

Tuition is costly enough but that is only the beginning of college costs. The other
fees charged by colleges can pack a real financial wallop, especially the room
and board fees and meal plan fees.


Living Arrangements – Off-Campus or On-Campus?

You have to live somewhere. Four-year colleges and universities have dorm
rooms and other apartments available for students to live in during the academic
year. These are not free. Actually, they can be quite expensive. Living in a dorm
can add thousands of dollars to your yearly college costs.

Some colleges require students to live on campus for a period of time, usually a
year. Check to see if the college you are interested in has this requirement or
not. If not, you can save a lot of money by living off campus or living with your
parents. Renting an apartment will be cheaper and more comfortable than living
in a dorm and you will be able to pay monthly rather than having to pay for a
whole semester’s room and board up front.

The biggest advantage to living on-campus is, of course, being on campus. That
makes getting to class and getting back “home” easier. You are also close to the
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library and other campus facilities and activities. It also provides great social
opportunities. The drawback is that you are always on campus, which can be
stifling, not to mention noisy and crowded.


You Gotta Eat

If you are living in a campus dorm you will usually be required to pay meal fees.
Meal plan fees are highly inflated and often, you will end up paying through the
nose for food that you won’t actually ever eat and may not like if you do.

A great way to cut the cost of your college education is to avoid these fees if you
can. Not buying the college meal plan can save you money on groceries. You
will probably be eating a lot of Ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese but you
will save money. At many schools you can still purchase food and drinks with
cash in the cafeteria even if you are not on the school’s meal plan as a last resort
if you’re on campus and hungry.


Other Fees

Carefully check over the list of fees that the college charges when you are
estimating costs. Some fees, like student activity fees, are mandatory but some
are not. If you are diligent and don’t pay the fees that you are not required to pay
you can save a lot of money.

For example, if the college charges $1,000 for health insurance or health care
costs but you are covered under your parents’ health insurance, request to have
that fee waived. Many health plans will cover children until they are 25 if they are
students so don’t assume that once you turn 18 your parents' health insurance
won’t cover you anymore.
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The cost of the books that you will need is hard to estimate because some
classes require more than one book, but it’s a safe bet to assume that you will be
spending at least $600 per semester on books. To cut down on the cost of
books, always try to find used books first. If the college bookstore doesn’t sell
used books, look online at places like Ebay or Amazon to find used textbooks at
a fraction of the cost.


FAMILY FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR COLLEGE

If you’re lucky, your parents or other relatives might be wealthy enough to loan
you the money for college. That’s not the case for most students though. Some
parents do start saving early for their children’s education but often, the amount
that they are able to save doesn’t come close to covering the cost of tuition.

If your parents or other family members can’t afford to loan you the money you
need for school, ask them to help you in other ways. Maybe they can loan you
the money to cover your room and board fee, or help you get a car loan so you
can live off campus and save money. If your parents live close to campus, ask
them to let you live at home for free while you get your education.

If your parents really want to help you get your degree, they can take out a PLUS
loan. A Parents Loan for Undergraduate Students, or a PLUS loan, is a federally
funded loan that lets parents borrow some or all of the money needed to finance
their child’s education.

The advantages of a PLUS loan include very easy repayment terms and a low
interest rate; as low as 6.5% for borrowers with good credit. Repayment on
PLUS loans typically starts 60 days after the last loan disbursement. So if your
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parents take out PLUS loans for all four years of college, no payments need to
be made on the loan until your last semester of college.

Another advantage of a PLUS loan is that once the school is paid for tuition,
room and board, and fees, any money left over is given to the student to use for
living expenses, books, or other things.

Many parents will take out PLUS loans for students because the parents are able
to get a much lower interest rate using a PLUS loan than the student would be
able to get borrowing on their own because usually, students don’t have a proven
credit history the way their parents do.

PLUS loans are a very affordable option for parents who have a good credit
rating and want to help their children get an education. To find out more about
PLUS loans you can contact the financial aid office at the college that you are
thinking of applying to or talk to a loan counselor with FinancialAid.com, a
company that specializes in helping parents and students find ways to pay for
college.


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SERVICE PROGRAMS THAT OFFER STUDENTS MONEY FOR
COLLEGE

Getting involved in community service is a great way that high school kids and
older students who want to change careers can start preparing to pay for college.
Some local organizations offer full and partial scholarships to kids who work
consistently with their groups. There are also national programs that will pay
some or all of your tuition and fees for college in exchange for your time.

The length of time that you need to commit to each program varies but usually,
they require at least a year of service before you will receive any benefits. The
groups will train you for the specific job that they need you to do so you get more
than just money for college; you get also get valuable job training and
experience.

Another benefit to participating in a service program to get money for college is
the chance to try out different jobs before you decide what to major in when you
start college. You might think at first that you want to study theater but after
spending some time mentoring kids you might decide that you want to teach. Or
after you spend some time teaching English to immigrants you might decide to
become an immigration lawyer.

Volunteering for a service program can also help you get into the college that you
really want to go to. Community service looks very good on college applications
and colleges who have a choice of qualified applicants are more likely to pick the
student who has given their time and effort to help others. So while you are
giving your time to these service groups you will definitely get some benefits
beyond just getting money for college.

If you are an older adult that wants to change careers, volunteering in a service
program can also give you the chance to network in your chosen industry. The
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connections that you make while volunteering can lead to letters of
recommendation for your college applications or for scholarships, job
opportunities, and possibly money for school from a new employer.

If you have the time to invest in a service program, volunteering for a national
organization can be a great way to get money for your education and a start
towards building professional networks that can help you become very
successful.

AMERICORPS

AmeriCorps is a national organization that works on a national level and on a
state level to help local communities. AmeriCorps volunteers usually volunteer
for at least one year of service. There are several different programs that focus
on local communities that volunteers can choose to work in. There are also
many different areas at the national level that volunteers can work in like
administrative and fundraising areas.

Anyone over the age of 17 is eligible to become an AmeriCorps volunteer and
there are plenty of positions available. J ust a few of the areas in which
AmeriCorps volunteers help communities are caring for the elderly, disaster
relief, working with at-risk children and youth, job training programs, literacy
programs, environmental care, community development, education for children
and adults, public safety, and helping the homeless.

Anyone who wants to go on to have a career in a field like Social Work would find
the experience of volunteering for AmeriCorps very valuable. At the end of the
service term, volunteers can get an educational grant for up to $4,725. Full-time
volunteers also receive an allowance for living expenses, health insurance, and
even child care if they need it while they are completing their service term.

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AmeriCorps volunteers have been a major force in the reconstruction of areas
devastated by Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. AmeriCorps
volunteers who work in the VISTA program have been instrumental in helping
raise the literacy rate in some of the poorest parts of the United States.

Even though the $4,725 that you get from volunteering with AmeriCorps won’t
pay for your entire education, the other benefits that you get from volunteering
are very important and can help you in the future. You also may qualify for
scholarships that will provide you with the rest of the money that you need for
college based on your AmeriCorps service.

THE PEACE CORPS

Peace Corps Volunteers travel overseas to make real differences in the lives of
real people. The work is hard, the commitment a big one, but it can help you pay
for college.

The Peace Corps program offers an educational grant to volunteers who put in at
least two years of service with the group. This only applies to graduate students
or students seeking advanced degrees, so joining the Peace Corps is not a great
way to get money to fund an undergraduate degree.

If you are changing careers and you want to try to get established in another
industry then joining the Peace Corps may be a great way to gain valuable
experience in that field. Plus, the Peace Corps will help you pay for a Master’s
degree or PhD in that field.

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When you switch careers, the hardest part is usually establishing yourself in that
field after working in another field for years, and the Peace Corps can give you
the chance to make valuable connections with others in the field.

It is usually pretty difficult to get into an advanced degree program if the area of
study is different than the one you studied for your undergraduate degree. So if
you have an undergraduate degree in English but you decide that you want to
work in Civic Planning, it would be tough to find a graduate school willing to let
you into an advanced degree program in Civic Planning, but if you have a year or
two of practical experience in Civic Planning working in the Peace Corps you will
have a much better shot at getting into graduate school.

Peace Corps volunteers can also get a portion of their Perkins student loans
forgiven. 15% of your Perkins loan is forgiven for each of the first two years that
you serve in the Peace Corps.

If you stay in longer than two years, 20% of the loan will be forgiven for the third
and fourth years. So by serving in the Peace Corps for four years you can have
70% of your Perkins student loan forgiven. While you are serving in the Peace
Corps you can also defer your student loan payments until the end of your
service.

If you want to find out more about serving in the Peace Corps and how it can
help you pay for and get into graduate school, look for one of the many campus
recruitment or community recruitment events that the Peace Corps holds or go to
their website.

If you attend a Peace Corps event you can talk directly to people who have been
through the Corps and can tell you what the experience was really like.


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ROTC

ROTC, or the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, is a very good option for
students who are just leaving high school and want to attend college but need
help affording it. The minimum age for enrollment in the ROTC is 17, and the
maximum age is 30.

ROTC is a national program that has been around since 1916 and is federally
funded. Each of the four branches of the military has their own branch of ROTC.
Almost every college in the US has an on campus ROTC program, although
some smaller schools share one program in their city.

Students can get enough money to cover the entire cost of their tuition and fees,
living expenses, and money for things like books as well as health insurance
including eye care and dental care through ROTC. Students that are good at
sports or have good leadership skills are highly sought after in the ROTC.

The ROTC works like a scholarship except the students need to commit to a
particular term of service in the military when they are done earning their degree.
Students who are in the ROTC program must also take special classes besides
their traditional college classes and must participate in leadership exercises, field
training exercises, and must attend special seminars. Students who are in ROTC
also have to maintain a certain GPA, usually above a 3.0, and must also be
physically fit and maintain their weight.

Even though the requirement can seem stringent, joining the ROTC is a great
way to get the entire cost of a college education paid for and build up valuable
skills that employers want at the same time. Many famous and well-respected
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leaders have gone through the ROTC program to pay for college and have gone
on to have very prestigious careers.

If you think that ROTC might be a good fit for you then you should talk to your
guidance counselor or talk to the ROTC representative on campus to find out
more about joining the ROTC and how ROTC can pay for your education.


SCHOLARSHIPS

Scholarships are the best way to pay for college. Did you know that there are
thousands of different groups that give scholarships to students for hundreds of
different reasons? There are, and you can find scholarships to help you pay for
college based on things like your ethnicity, your religion, your parents’ income,
your GPA, or other academic achievements and many other things.

Scholarships can be full or partial. Most scholarships are partial and help cover
the costs of tuition or books but don’t usually pay all of your college expenses.
Some scholarships are “full ride,” but the competition for those scholarships is
fierce. It can take some time and effort to find out about all the different
scholarships that you qualify for, but getting free money for school is worth a little
time and effort, isn’t it?

College scholarships are available to recent high school graduates and to non-
traditional students who are going back to school. In fact, there has been a large
increase in the number of scholarships available to older and non-traditional
students in the last ten years because many community groups know that people
who have lost their jobs to outsourcing or hard times need to get more education
in order to find good jobs. To help older students, many scholarships are
available that will not only help pay tuition costs but also might pay for living
expenses for you and your family while you study.
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Because there are so many students who are trying to win scholarships, even if
you are highly qualified you may have to fight to win a scholarship. The best way
to win scholarships is to make sure that you really sell yourself. In your
application and essay, be sure to point out all your strengths. Talk about what
you have learned from your weaknesses. Make sure that you mention
outstanding work that you have done or awards you have received.

When applying for a scholarship, do some research on the organization offering
the scholarship. Are they a college, an arm of the government, or a private
organization? What are the stated goals of the scholarship program and of the
organization offering it? Knowing this information helps you in several ways. One,
it helps you to see which scholarships you do not have a realistic chance of
winning. Since scholarships often have application fees and also require time
and effort to apply, knowing which scholarships on which to focus your efforts is
a good thing. Also, knowing the values of the organization offering the
scholarship can help you tailor your application to what appeals to them.

WHEN TO APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS

Each scholarship that you apply for will have its own deadline date but most
scholarships take a long time to process so you should plan on each one taking
anywhere from two to six months just to pick a winner. A good rule of thumb is to
start looking for scholarships about a year before you want to attend school.

When you first start your search it may take a lot of time to weed through the
many different types of scholarships that are out there. Keep a running list of the
scholarships that you qualify for and apply for as many as you can.



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WHERE TO LOOK FOR SCHOLARSHIPS

Once you’re ready to start looking for scholarships, where should you look? If
you are still in school the best place to start is your high school guidance office.
Your guidance counselor should have an updated list of all the local groups that
are offering scholarships in your area and how to apply.

Many guidance offices keep files or binders of national scholarship opportunities
as well. Make an appointment to sit down and talk with your guidance counselor
about which scholarships you qualify for and what the application process is.

If you are not in school and you are trying to go back to school, the local library is
a good place to find the same kind of information. Ask the librarian for
information on local scholarships. You can also check the community events
calendar at the library. Many times, local groups will give presentations about the
scholarships they are giving away and how to apply.

Another good place to check is the financial aid office of the college that you
want to attend. Colleges will have complete lists of scholarships that are
available in every major and usually have application materials on hand as well.

Even if you are just a prospective student you can access the college’s
scholarship information and talk with a financial aid counselor about scholarships
that you qualify for. The college wants you to enroll, so it’s in their best interest
to help you find the financing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The fastest and easiest place to find information about both national and local
scholarships and how to apply is online. The Internet is a great tool for finding out
about all the different scholarships that you qualify for.

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FINDING SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION ONLINE

The Internet has made searching for scholarships a much easier process than it
used to be. There are hundreds of websites that have information about all
different kinds of scholarships. The best websites to use when you’re looking for
scholarships are sites like Scholarships.com that have a free scholarship search.

You enter in your name and answer a series of questions about things like your
ethnicity, your religion, what kind of education your parents have, your income,
and other questions about your life and your educational goals.

Then the search engine will give you a list of all the scholarships that are in the
website's data bank that you qualify for. This can save you a lot of time and
energy because you won’t waste time applying for scholarships that you don’t
qualify for.

Using the Internet also makes the application process a lot faster and easier
because you can apply for many scholarships online. Some scholarships won’t
let you apply online but you can fill out a form on a website and get a package of
application materials for that scholarship mailed to you.


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AVOIDING SCHOLARSHIP SCAMS ON THE INTERNET

Even though most websites are legitimate and can be great tools for helping
prospective college students find money to fund their education, there are some
scammers out there. Sometimes, the scammers can be hard to spot because
there are some legitimate for-profit companies that offer scholarship search
services.

But, if a website asks for your credit card information or other personal
information before you can see any of the information on the site or if they are
charging a huge fee for a simple scholarships search you should leave that site
and head over to one of the many free scholarship search sites.

There are plenty of legitimate and free websites that have information on
scholarships so don’t take the risk of dealing with a scam website. You should
never have to pay to get information on how to apply for a scholarship.


SCHOLARSHIPS FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE

There are national and local groups that give students scholarships for
completing community service or showing outstanding leadership in their
communities. Things like working at fundraisers, community organizing, and
working to better your local community can get you scholarships of $1000 to
$5000 or more from some groups. One of these groups, the Key Club, is a
national organization that has local chapters in most communities.

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These scholarships are only given to high school students who are active in the
organization or in the community. To find out what local groups in your area are
looking for volunteers you should check the guidance office at your school.

Your guidance counselor can put you in touch with the local recruitment contact
or you can go on the Web and search for local service groups in your area.

Another way to get a community service scholarship that is open to people of all
ages is through a business that supports the local community. Companies like
Wal-Mart and Target give back time and money to the community and award
large scholarships to students who do the same.

To find out if your local Target or Wal-Mart offers a college scholarship program,
ask at the Customer Service desk or look on their website for scholarship
information.

In order to qualify for a scholarship based on community service, you need to
demonstrate great leadership and a strong commitment to your community. If
you want to start building a resume of community service, start by attending local
charity events or helping out at fundraising events.

To show off your leadership skills, try setting up a program at your high school to
have advanced students tutor middle school kids who are having trouble or start
a club that works to raise environmental awareness in your school. There are
lots of things that you can do right now to start building up an impressive history
of service to the community.

Once you have a great service reputation, you can get a lot of financing for
college from groups that value community service. Getting scholarships from
these organizations also looks great on a college application or job resume.

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SPORTS SCHOLARSHIPS

Students who are active in high school sports may
be eligible for a sports scholarship. Colleges give
away more than one billion dollars per year in
sports scholarships to over 100,000 students. And
not all of those scholarships go to athletes in the
more popular sports like football and basketball.
So if you think that because you run track, play
golf, volleyball, or another less well known sport
you won’t be eligible for a sports scholarship, think
again. There are actually more scholarships
available for “minor” sports than the sports you
normally see on television.

The competition for sports scholarships is fierce.
High school athletes from around the country are
trying to get the attention of college sports
recruiters. In order to be considered for a sports scholarship you will need to
really sell yourself and stand out.

Here are some ways that you can increase your chances of getting a sports
scholarship:

Plan ahead
By the fall of your sophomore year in high school you should be planning out the
steps you need to take to get noticed by college recruiters. Plan and be ready for
recruiting season.

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Excel in academics as well as sports
Coaches and recruiters will need to see that you can perform in the classroom as
well as on the playing field. Most high schools and colleges require students to
maintain a certain GPA in order to play team sports. Make sure that you meet or
exceed that GPA consistently.

Document your achievements
Make an athletic portfolio. Start an archive of newspaper clippings, photos, and
any press that you receive for your athletic prowess. Have your parents take
videos of you playing and keep a list of all your trophies and awards. Combine all
these materials and have them ready to show to recruiters.

Contact the recruiter first
Find out who the coach or recruiter is at one of the schools that you want to
attend. Send that person a packet containing a great letter, a “sports resume,” a
list of all your awards, copies of your press clippings, and videos of you playing.
This is a great way to get the recruiter’s attention.

Apply to that school
Coaches and recruiters want to know you’re really thinking about coming to their
school before they think about offering you a scholarship. Get your application in
early to show them you’re serious about wanting to attend the school.

If you can land an athletic scholarship you will have your tuition and other fees
mostly or completely paid for by the college. You will be required to live up to
both academic and athletic requirements to keep your scholarship, but if you play
by the rules, your college costs are covered.



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ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIPS

As the name indicates, these are scholarships awarded for academic
achievement and merit. You need to demonstrate ability in an academic
discipline. Unlike sports scholarships, most academic scholarships are for one
year only and need to be renewed every year. Many academic scholarships are
full scholarships and cover all the costs associated with college. These
scholarships are difficult, but not impossible to get.

When you are applying for an academic scholarship, how much money you and
your parents have to contribute to your education may play a role in whether or
not you get the scholarship but ultimately, the decision will be based on your
academic performance. This includes mostly the grades you earn in high school
and the scores you get on standardized achievement tests. You will want to take
both the ACT and the SAT tests to qualify for academic awards and scholarships.

Your academic performance is more than just your GPA and test scores. After
all, most of the people who will be applying for an academic scholarship have
nearly perfect grades and have attended all the right classes just like you. So
how you can set yourself apart? Devote yourself to more than just learning the
classroom lessons.

You need to stand out from the crowd of other qualified applicants. You need to
shine. Get involved in academic student clubs in high school. If there are any
organizations related to your intended major or career that welcomes junior
members, join them. Get a paper published, or start a blog on an academic
subject that really interests you. Go above and beyond to show the people
deciding who gets the scholarship that you are truly dedicated to your studies.


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RELIGIOUS AND ETHNIC SCHOLARSHIPS

Many religious groups fund scholarships for students that are active in their faith,
especially if you plan to study something that is related to your religion. If your
church or religious group does have scholarships for students, make sure that
you read over the application materials very carefully. Sometimes, religious
groups will put in special clauses or restrictions on what the student may or may
not study while at school.

If you are a member of a minority group such as African Americans, Native
Americans, or Latinos then you may be eligible for special college scholarships
given by the government to help students from typically disadvantaged
backgrounds get to college.

If you are a member of a minority group, the best way for you to find out what
government scholarships and fellowships are available to you for college is to go
through MOLIS. MOLIS is the Minority On-Line Information Service. It’s a
division of the Federal Information Exchange and has updated information on
what the federal requirements are to get a minority scholarship and how to apply
for one.

You can also check with a financial aid counselor at the school you want to
attend and find out what programs are offered to help minorities pay for college.
There are usually several support programs to help minority students find funding
for college. These programs also usually offer tutoring help and other programs
to help students adjust to campus life.

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If you are an adult minority student that wants to return to college you also may
qualify for federal minority scholarships. But there are also lots of private and
corporate groups that offer money to minority students for college. If you work
for a large company you should ask your Human Resources director what type of
education benefits the company offers.

Often, large national or international corporations will have scholarship programs
and grant programs set up to help minority workers go to college for more
training. Read the application materials carefully. Some companies will require
you to stay at the company for a certain amount of time after you graduate as
part of the conditions of the scholarship.

SCHOLARSHIPS BASED ON AREAS OF STUDY

Scholarships based on the major that you choose can be a great way to
supplement your college money. These scholarships are offered by industry
groups or companies in those fields in order to encourage people to study in
those fields. Usually, these scholarships are only partial scholarships but still can
be useful.

The best way to find scholarships based on major is to contact the department of
that major at the school you want to attend. The department office will have a list
of the scholarships that are awarded to students in that major and how to apply
for them. Don’t waste your time going through random searches for scholarships
in particular majors. The department office or the school library will be the best
places to find out about scholarships for your major.

College libraries are usually open to the public; however, you won’t be able to
check out any materials without a college ID. So even if you are not yet a student
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at the college you can go to the library and look through the scholarship listings
that they have.

For older students, scholarships based on major can be a great way to get
money for college. Even if your employer doesn’t offer education benefits you
can suggest to them that helping an employee pay for college to study something
related to their job would benefit them in the long run.

Companies might not want to take the chance of giving a scholarship for a
particular major to a high school student who probably doesn’t really know what
he or she wants to study but wouldn’t think twice about giving a manager a
scholarship to get a business degree or giving a customer account rep a
scholarship to get a degree in marketing.

Professional organizations are another great source for scholarships based on
areas of study. If you or your parents belong to a professional organization,
check with that organization to see if they offer any scholarships for members or
the children of members. Even if the organization doesn’t offer scholarships you
could use your contacts in that group to get in touch with other groups that might
offer them.


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TIPS FOR FILLING OUT SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS

So once you find the scholarship opportunity, how do you close the deal and win
the scholarship? After all, you will be competing against people who have good
grades like you, or can play sports well like you can, or have the same kind of
community service record you do. What can you do to give yourself an edge
when it comes to winning?

Check the eligibility requirements carefully.
If you aren’t eligible, don’t apply. Even if you think you might have special
circumstances that should be considered, don’t waste time applying if you don’t
meet the published guidelines.

Follow the directions to the letter.
This is very important. With so many applicants, the easiest way for the
scholarship committee to weed out applications is to reject any application with
any errors. If the application doesn’t say that you need to include copies of your
high school transcripts, don’t include them hoping they will impress the judges.
You will probably end up disqualified. Follow the directions exactly as they are
written. Do not add or subtract anything.

Make sure that you have filled out every part of the application.
Again, a simple mistake can doom you. Check and double check the application
materials to make sure you haven’t missed a question or forgotten to add a piece
of documentation.

Make sure everything is legible.
Print the documents on a computer whenever possible, but if you have to fill out
a form by hand make sure everything is readable. Photocopy the form before
you fill it out so that you have back up copies if you mess up one and need to do
another one.
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Focus on writing an excellent essay.
Most scholarships require a written essay to demonstrate ability and knowledge.
Your essay or your personal statement is what will really impress the judges so
put most of your effort into creating a great essay that will stand out from the rest
of the applicants and really wow the judges. Get help writing it if you need help
and make sure that you have a parent or teacher look it over and offer
suggestions.

Watch the deadline.
There is no real advantage to turning in the application early but it does need to
be on time or it will be immediately disqualified. Write the date the application is
due on your calendar and highlight it or put it in your personal planner and mark
it. Don’t procrastinate.

Make sure that you send the application materials a few days before the actual
deadline so that they will arrive before the deadline. Sending your materials with
delivery confirmation or some kind of tracking number is always a good idea.
This way, you will have proof of when the materials were sent and when they
arrived.

Write your name on all of your application materials.
You will be sending in a lot of documents that might become separated so put
your name on every sheet of paper. That way, even if your application gets
mixed up and pieces go missing, each sheet will be able to be traced to you.

Back up your application.
Keep several copies of everything that is in your application. If something
happens and you need to re-submit your application you will be able to send in
another application quickly if you have copies already on hand.

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Get a proof reader.
Have your mom or dad, a teacher, an older sibling, or a neighbor read over all
your application materials to check for spelling errors, grammar mistakes, or
other problems. Your application should be perfect when you turn it in or you
could get disqualified.

Gather your supporting documentation early.
If you need to have copies of transcripts or test scores, letters of
recommendation, or other types of documentation for your application, get all of
those things together at least two weeks before the application is due. You don’t
want to be scrambling to get a crucial piece of the application a few days before
the deadline. You don’t want to submit an incomplete application because you
were waiting for a letter or a copy of a transcript.

You should also make copies of all your supporting documentation and keep
them in a file with the other application materials. Oftentimes, you can reuse
materials for multiple scholarship applications.

Get your application to the right people.
Once you are ready to send out the application, make sure that you have
included all the parts of the application in a neat packet and send it through a
reliable service.

Using FedEx or UPS might cost more than just sending the application in the
mail, but if you use a service like FedEx your packet will stand out because
someone will need to sign for it. Also, you will have proof of when your
application packet was delivered and who it was delivered to.




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WHEN SCHOLARSHIPS AREN’T ENOUGH

Sometimes, scholarships just don’t give you all the money that you need for
college even if you win several partial scholarships. Usually, partial scholarships
are great for things like books and room and board costs but don’t really make a
significant dent in tuition costs. Full scholarships are great, but can be very
difficult to get.

So if you find yourself with several partial scholarships but not much else, can
you still go to college? Of course you can! You just need to get creative about
finding the rest of the money. If your parents can’t help you, or your parents
aren’t willing to take out a PLUS loan then check with other family members.

Did your grandparents buy you some bonds when you were born that you can
get money from? Is there a college fund that was set up for you by a rich aunt?
Are there any inheritances or other significant amounts of money waiting for you?
Find out. You may have the money for college in a trust and not even know
about it.

Financial aid is how most people pay for college these days. Figuring out the
different types of financial aid, the eligibility requirements, repayment options,
and other ins and outs of financial aid can be very confusing.

If you’re the parent of a high school student getting ready for college, or an older
student who has never been through the financial aid process before, you might
want to meet with a financial aid counselor at the school you want to attend. A
financial aid counselor is trained to help you understand the different kinds of
financial aid available and how to get it.

Financial aid is determined by financial need. The Federal government will
consider the cost of the school that you want to attend plus fees and living costs
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and will deduct an amount of money called the Expected Family Contribution,
which is the money they think that your family can contribute. What’s left is
considered your financial need and you will receive a financial aid package to
cover that amount of money.

If your family cannot contribute anything to your education you will need to
document that before you can receive a financial aid package so make sure that
you have copies of your parents’ financial records to include with your financial
aid application.


TYPES OF FINANCIAL AID

There are basically three types of financial aid besides scholarships. Usually,
students combine these types to cover all the costs associated with their
education. Some are federal, some are state, and some are available from
private lenders.

The rules are getting tougher for students who are seeking federal financial aid
because there is not as much money available for student aid as there was in the
past. So if you want to finance your education using federal financial aid you will
need to follow the application process to the letter and make sure that you have
all the documentation that is asked for.

If you don’t get any federal student aid, or don’t get the amount that you need,
you might be eligible for state based grants or student loans. When you fill out a
FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, your information will
automatically be forwarded to the state educational office to see if you qualify for
state aid.

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Grants

Grants are essentially gifts of money that are given to students. Grants don’t
have to be paid back. There are federal grants and private grants. Federal
grants are available for a variety of students and are based on several different
factors. Some private corporations and non-profit groups also give out grants to
certain types of students.


Work Study

Work study is a federal program that is factored into the financial aid package
that a school offers to a student. In the work study program, students work on
campus for a certain number of hours per week at a slightly higher than minimum
wage hourly rate. Work study employers are required to give students time off if
they need it for studying or exams. This is considered financial aid even though
the student is technically working for the money.


Loans

Student loans are federal loans that have a low interest rate and usually have
generous repayment terms so that students don’t have to start making payments
on the loan until after they graduate. Banks also offer private student loans,
although bank interest rates are generally higher than the interest rates on
federal student loans. Loans do have to paid back, so be careful not to borrow
too much. If you do, that debt can hang over you for years to come. Loans should
be your last resort after all other attempts at college funding come up short.


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FAFSA

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you want to receive
Federal financial aid for college, the first thing you need to do is fill out a FAFSA.
Yes, it is free. Yes, it is mandatory to receive almost any kind of financial aid,
including many private scholarships. Students need to fill out a new FAFSA each
year. The FAFSA has a lot of detailed questions about the student’s finances as
well the parents' finances if the student is under age 24, so parents should sit
down with the student to fill out the FAFSA if possible.

You can fill out a FAFSA online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. The deadline to
complete a FAFSA is usually J une of the year before you plan to attend college
so high school students will need to fill out a FAFSA in their senior year. If you
are an older student who is planning on applying for aid, plan on taking at least a
year to sort out and apply for financing before you will be able to enroll in
classes.

During the FAFSA application you will be asked to fill in the names of the schools
that you are applying to. The reason for this is that the results of the FAFSA are
sent to those schools to help them arrange financial aid for you when and if you
attend that school.

The FAFSA is used by the government to determine what your Expected Family
Contribution is and how much money you will ultimately need for college.
Because the questions on the FAFSA are very detailed you will to have several
different sets of documents handy when you start filling it out.
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At a minimum you will need the following:

Your social security number
Your driver’s license or state issued ID number
W-2s for you (if you worked) and your parents
Tax returns (for you and your parents)
Bank statements
Investment holdings like stocks, IRAs, or other investments
Additional income documentation of public assistance like welfare
Unemployment documentation if one of your parents was unemployed in
the previous year.




37

HOW FINANCIAL AID WORKS

It is, at times, a frustrating system but it is a good one. The biggest problem is the
wait. So be patient.

Once you have filed your FAFSA you will receive a SAR, a Student Aid Report, in
the mail after about six weeks. The Student Aid Report will tell you what your
Expected Family Contribution is and how much student aid you are qualified to
get. The Expected Family Contribution will seem high to almost everyone. Don’t
be freaked out by it. It is a number used for calculating financial aid; it is not the
actual dollar amount anyone is expecting you to come up with.

The department of the federal government that processes your FAFSA and
distributed the SAR does not make any actual decisions about financial aid nor
does it give you any financial aid. Those decisions are made by others who
receive your SAR.

Those schools that you listed in your FAFSA will all receive a copy of your SAR
so that they will have a better idea of what your financial status is. A copy of your
SAR will also be sent to the state education office where you live so that the state
can see if you qualify for state aid in addition to Federal aid.

After you get your SAR you can set up a meeting with a financial aid counselor at
your school. It’s always best to go through a financial aid counselor if you aren’t
familiar with the different types of aid available to you. A financial aid counselor
is trained to know how to get you the best deals on loans and can help you and
your family to create a workable plan to pay for your education.

38

Whether you get grants or take out loans, the money that you receive as part of
your aid package is usually sent directly to the school that you have chosen.
After the money is applied to your bill for tuition and fees, anything that is left
over is given to the student in a check to be used for books and living expenses.


PELL GRANTS

One of the most often given federal grants is the Pell grant. Pell grants are
entirely need-based, meaning that you have to fit a strict set of financial
requirements in order to qualify for one.

Pell grants are traditionally given to the poorest students so if you come from a
family that is middle class you will probably find it difficult to get a Pell grant.
Some lower middle class students qualify for a partial Pell grant depending on
their parents’ income.

The Pell grant program has had its funding cut repeatedly over the years and
now very few people can qualify. By completing your FAFSA, the appropriate
government agency will determine your eligibility for a Pell grant and you will be
told whether or not you qualify for one.

Pell grants have a maximum award of just over $4,000. Pell grant money must
go towards tuition and fees or books. It usually is eaten up by tuition alone. The
maximum amount awarded through a Pell grant was supposed to be raised to
$5,800 and stay at that rate through 2011, but the government cut funding to
many educational aid programs and because of those cutbacks the Pell grant
awards had to be lowered.

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Under the current funding guidelines, the Pell grant’s maximum award should
increase to about $5,500 in the next few years, but with the cost of tuition rising
every year the maximum Pell grant award still won’t cover the cost of tuition for a
full semester even at a public college.

Pell grants do sometimes cover an entire semester’s costs at a community
college or vocational school.

When the Pell grant was first introduced in 1965, the maximum award amount
covered about 60% of the cost of an entire year’s tuition and fees at a public
college but today it covers only a fraction of the costs that students face.

Some critics want to get rid of the Pell grant. They say that because the grant is
only awarded to students showing great financial need that the grant can be seen
as a reward to people who don’t bother to plan for their future or their children’s
future.

Student advocates say that the Pell grant is the best way that children from poor
families have to pay for college without having to take on high interest loans.

Parents who have bad credit or no financial resources might not be able to help
their kids pay for college and Pell grants give the most disadvantaged students a
chance at a real future by giving them the chance for an education.


40

STUDENT LOANS

Most students use a combination of student loans to pay for the bulk of their
tuition and fees. Though the government has simplified the student loan process
and set of programs in recent years, student loans can still be very confusing.
There are a few different types of student loans. Some come directly from the
federal government; others go through banks or credit unions.

Here is a quick look at the different types of student loans.


Perkins Loan

A Perkins loan is a fixed interest rate loan that is available to both undergraduate
and graduate students. Undergraduates can borrow up to $4,000 per year.
Graduate students can borrow up to $6,000 per year.

Many students use Perkins loans to pay for their books and to give them some
extra money to live on during the academic year.

Perkins loans are campus based, meaning that the school will decide if you are
eligible for a loan or not. Repayment on a Perkins loan usually starts 9 months
after you graduate or leave school.


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Federal Stafford Loans

There are two types of Federal Stafford Loans; subsidized and unsubsidized. No
matter what type of Stafford loan you take out, Stafford loans have a fixed
interest rate of 6.8% and come from lenders, not the government. Repayment on
Stafford loans needs to start six months after you graduate or leave school and
you must be enrolled at least half time as a student to qualify for one.

Subsidized Stafford loans are guaranteed by the state or by another private non-
profit agency. The interest on a subsidized loan is paid by the federal
government. However, in some circumstances you can defer repayment on your
loan after graduation because of financial hardship or another acceptable reason.
The interest on your loan will not increase during the time that the loan is in
deferment. In order to get a subsidized loan you need to show great financial
need on your FAFSA.

Unsubsidized Stafford loans are available to all students regardless of income
but the interest on an unsubsidized loan is not paid for the student. Students
must pay the interest on the loan while they are in school or work out a
deferment plan with the lender.


Federal Family Education Loan Program

The FFELP gives low interest, federally insured loans to low income students
and their parents to pay for tuition and fees.

`

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Federal Direct Loan Program

Federal Direct Loan Program operates under the same principle as the FFELP
loans. The FDLP lets students take out Stafford loans that come directly from
the government instead of through a lender, like a bank. There are different sets
of criteria that students need to meet in order to qualify for the FDLP.


Parent PLUS Loan

A Parent PLUS Loan is a program where parents who have an acceptable credit
history can borrow to pay the education expenses of a child. The child must still
be a dependent student and must be enrolled at least half time in an eligible
program at an eligible school. The parents will be required to pass a credit check
and are responsible to pay back the loan. The borrowing limits for PLUS loans is
the cost of attendance minus any aid the student will receive.


Graduate PLUS Loan

If you are a graduate student you might qualify for a Graduate PLUS Loan. This
loan is similar to the Parents PLUS loan but is only for graduate students. The
repayment terms and interest rates are almost identical to the Parents PLUS
loan.


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Private Loans

Even if you qualify for Federal loans you might still need to take out some private
loans to cover the costs that are not covered by the federal loans. Many banks
offer student loans with lower interest rates and repayment terms that begin after
you finish school.

Even if you need to take out a private loan you should borrow as much as you
can from federal loans first and use private loans as a last resort. Interest rates
on a private loan will always be higher than the interest rates charged on a
federal loan. If you have a poor credit history or no credit history you may end up
paying extremely high interest rates on your private loan.

Private loans also will carry higher fees and penalties if you fall into default or
miss your scheduled payments. Students who are just starting out may have
trouble picking up their loan payments right after school if they don’t find a job
immediately and often, parents are financially strapped and can’t carry the
burden of having to pay on additional loans.

Private loans are an option if you have exhausted all your Federal borrowing
power and still need more money but use private loans sparingly for college.
When you take out a private education loan, shop around to get the best interest
rate on college loans and make sure that you have read and understand the
terms of the loan.






44

CHOOSING A LENDER

When you take out a federal student loan that isn’t a FDLP or FFELP loan you
can choose the lender that you want to work with. The school that you want to
attend and the government both have lists of approved lenders and you are free
to choose a lender from that list.

Most of the large banking corporations like Wells Fargo, Chase Financial,
Citibank, Bank One, and specialty student lenders like Sallie Mae are on the list.
If you have your personal banking accounts or investments with one of those
banks already then you might want to choose that bank to be your lender to
simplify your personal banking.

Even though the school can suggest particular lenders to you, the school should
not pressure you into doing business with a particular lender. Be sure that you
choose a lender that you feel comfortable with and want to work with and not one
that the school has pressured you into using.

Students are sometimes intimidated by the process of getting money for college
so parents should be involved in as much of the process as they can to make
sure that the student isn’t pressured into making a bad financial decision.

For most college graduates, their student loans are their first large financial
investment. Making a bad choice when choosing a lender can lead to a lot of
frustration but also to trouble down the road because of hidden costs, rising
interest rates, or bad service.

If the student isn’t clear about the terms of the loan, that student might find
themselves struggling to pay their loan payments after graduation. Defaulted
loans can lead to serious financial problems so signing the documents for a
student loan is not something to be taken lightly.
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TIPS FOR CHOOSING A LENDER

Since the interest rate on your federal loans is guaranteed to stay low, the
interest rate really isn’t much of a factor when you are choosing a lender but
there are other factors to consider besides just the cost. Compare a few lenders
and see how they rate against each other on these factors before choosing one.

Online management
Does the lender have an easy to use website? Can you manage your loans and
financial information easily and quickly? Is the site secure? Can you make online
payments? Can you apply online? If the nearest branch of that lender is not close
by, you will be much happier choosing a lender that lets you manage your
account online.

Customer service
Does the lender have a phone number that you can call to reach a customer
service rep? Some lenders only do online customer service and make you send
an email and then wait two or three days for a response. If you prefer to send
emails, that’s great, but some people still prefer to know that they can get a
human being on the phone if they have a problem with the loan. Check the
customer service hours as well.

Efficiency
This is a big one. How fast is the lender going to process your loans and get
them to the school? You won’t see any of that money until it goes to the school,
and chances are that if you are a student you will need that money sooner rather
than later.

46

Check out what the normal time frame for processing loans is. The loan checks
won’t really help you that much if they don’t get processed until halfway through
the semester. Once the lender sends the money to the school you usually get
whatever is left in a day or two.

Repayment terms
Know exactly what you are obligating yourself to before you sign on the dotted
line. You are completely responsible to the terms of whatever agreement you
sign. Check out what the repayment terms of the loan are and if the lender allows
deferment or consolidation. Also, be sure to know what the penalties are for late
payment or non-payment so that you don’t get blind-sided later on.


WHO CAN GET FEDERAL FINANCIAL AID?

Many students don’t think that they can get federal financial aid because of their
parents’ incomes. Non-traditional students often think that because they have a
good job they won’t qualify for aid. But the most basic requirement for getting
federal financial aid is just economic need. It doesn’t matter if you have a good
job or if your parents have a good income. All that matters is that the income you
have or your parents have is not enough to cover the costs of college.

The other requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for federal financial
aid besides economic need are:

47

Citizenship
You must be a US citizen, either born here or a naturalized citizen or have legal
status as a permanent resident of the US.

Social Security Number
You must have a valid Social Security number. If you never got one you can go
to your local Social Security office; every city has one, and apply there to get a
Social Security number.

High School Diploma or GED
You must have a High School diploma or a GED in order to qualify for Federal
aid. If you are a high school senior and you are applying for aid before you
graduate you will have to supply transcripts of your grades to show that you are
passing and will receive a diploma.

College acceptance
You need to have been accepted at a college or trade school before you are
eligible for aid. When you fill out your FAFSA you will need to fill in the schools
you have been accepted to. That way, the education office can determine what
the cost of the school is and how much money you will need in aid.

Those are the only requirements for being eligible to receive federal aid. The
only way that you will not qualify for aid under any circumstances is if you have
been convicted in a court of law for having or selling illegal drugs.





48

TIPS FOR PARENTS ON GETTING FINANCIAL AID FOR
CHILDREN

If you’re a parent that already knows your child will need financial aid for college,
there are things that you can start doing now to make it easier for your child to
qualify for financial aid.

Start saving now
It is never too early to start saving for college. Parents are expected to contribute
at least 20% of the cost of the child’s college education. Because financial aid
packages are supposed to cover what is left of the cost after the Expected Family
Contribution you need to be able to contribute some money to your child’s
education.

If you don’t have any money set aside to pay for the Expected Family
Contribution you will not be able to get Federal aid to cover that cost and may
end up taking out private loans, which end up costing you and your child a
bundle in the long run.

Keep investments and bank accounts in your name
When the government is calculating how much aid your child is eligible for, they
assume that 20% of the child’s assets will be available to go towards the cost of
education. However, they assume that only 5.6% of the parents’ assets will be
available to go towards college. Work this to your advantage. Instead of putting
that savings account or other investment in your child’s name, keep it in yours.

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Ask about financial aid
When you visit colleges with your child, always schedule an appointment to sit
down with a financial aid counselor at the school so that you can get a real idea
of what the college costs and how much aid you can expect to get. Schools want
to attract students so a counselor would be glad to sit down with you and help
you figure out how you can afford to send your child to that school.

Don’t put it off
You can’t start preparing for your child’s college education too early. Look at all
of your options, start college savings programs, and be aware of the increasing
college costs and laws about federal aid. Before you know it you will be sitting
down to fill out that FAFSA and send your child to college.


CREATIVE WAYS TO GET MONEY FOR COLLEGE

Don’t give up if you don’t qualify for federal financial aid or if you still need more
money for school. You can still get a college education; you just need to find
some creative ways to bring in more money. Here are some alternative ways to
bring in extra money to help out with those college bills.

Start at a community college
Go to a community college for your first two years and get all the required
classes out of the way. Then transfer to a four year school to finish your
undergraduate degree. You can save a lot of money by doing that.

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Work part-time
A part-time job can bring in enough money for you to live on and pay for basic
expenses. It can be tough to hold a job and study but if you find the right job it’s
not so bad. If you find a job at a restaurant or coffee shop you may also get free
meals or beverages that can help supplement your bottom line.

Get a sponsor
Ask a friend or family member to sponsor you through college. They can pay a
set amount of your educational costs and you can work out some kind of
payment arrangement to repay the money after you graduate. Or, ask if you can
work the money off by doing errands or chores for them throughout the year.

Get Donations
Put up a website and say that you are taking donations to pay for your college
education. Put on the website all your accomplishments, GPA, and a statement
about why you want to go to college. Send out emails and press releases to get
attention for your cause. Set up a spot on the website where people can donate
to your cause.

Go for an accelerated degree
If you plan to get your degree in three years instead of four or five you can save a
lot of money and avoid a lot of debt. You will need to work extra hard for the
years you are at college, but in the long run an accelerated degree can save you
a great deal of money.

There are lots of different ways that you can find money to help cover college
costs if you think outside of the box and are willing to take a few risks. It’s not
always easy to ask people for money but the chance to have a college education
is worth a little effort.


51


MONEY SAVING TIPS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS

Once you have tuition covered, there are still tons of costs you have to face as a
college student. Here are some easy ways that you can save money for things
like living expenses, books, and all the other things you will need during your
time in school.

Live off campus
Sometimes this isn’t an option because some schools require students to live on
campus for at least a year. But as soon as you can, move off campus. Paying
rent is far cheaper than the cost of a dorm and you will be much more
comfortable. Get some roommates to keep your costs low. Look for apartments
that cater to students and have all the utilities included so that you only have to
pay one fee every month.

Eat for free
Most college campuses are rife with coupons for local pizza joints and
restaurants. Look for buy one get one free coupons and use them liberally. Go in
on these deals with friends – they are looking to save money also. If you work at
a restaurant, use your employee discount to eat at the restaurant as much as you
can. Hit up your friends who work at coffee shops or restaurants for freebies or
discounts. If you can, be sure and return the favor and give them freebies or
discounts too.

Invite friends to a potluck dinner once a week
Have everyone bring a dish and have fun watching movies or playing games.
Then at the end of the night, divide everything that is left over evenly among all
the people there. That way, for the cost of bringing one dish, everyone goes
home with enough food for multiple meals.

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Get your coffee for free
Many departments on campus have a coffee maker or teapot and tea in their
student lounges for the use of the students in that department. Skip the $4
Starbucks latte in the morning and grab a free cup of coffee in your department
student lounge.

Sell your car
Driving and parking a car on most campuses is expensive and you still end up
walking a long distance to your classes. Get an apartment close to campus and
sell the car. Getting rid of the car saves you money on gas and maintenance,
insurance, and parking. In most cities, students can ride city buses free with their
student ID so use the bus and your legs to get around. If you need to shop, tag
along when a friend with a car goes shopping or take a cab.

Ask for gift cards
When family and friends ask you what you want for your birthday or holidays,
always ask for gift cards to stores that are near you. That way, you can use your
gift card for something fun or if things are tight you can use them for things like
food and necessities.

Gift cards to grocery stores and stores like Wal-Mart and Target can also usually
be reloaded from anywhere. So if you give your parents the number of your gift
card they can put money on it from home. In an emergency it could be a real life-
saver to have your parents reload your grocery gift card so you can buy what you
need.

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Skip the fancy clothes
Fortunately, the grunge look is still kind of in fashion, especially at college. When
you’re in college, your day to day wardrobe will probably consist largely of jeans
and sweatshirts or tee shirts. Instead of paying designer prices for new clothes,
go to thrift stores or charity shops like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. You can
often find designer label clothes at resale shops.

Visit your parents in the off season to save money
Flying home at holidays can be a nightmare and very expensive. To save money
and hassle, visit your family just before or just after a major holiday. Use frequent
flier miles to pay for the flights and you can have a nice visit home that won’t cost
anything.

Shop in bulk
J oin Sam’s Club or another bulk discount store with the other people in your
apartment or even the other people in your building. Plan one day a month to go
shopping for things like toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, and other
household items. You can also stock up on canned goods and other non
perishable food.

Use Craigslist and Freecycle
Looking on Websites like Craigslist can be a great way to find furniture,
household items, clothes, and other items for really cheap or sometimes for free.
Browse these sites regularly or post an ad telling the other readers what you are
looking for and how much you want to pay.

You can also use these sites to find great apartments, roommates, or even ride
sharing groups. If you want to find great local resources, rely on websites like
Craigslist.


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NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENTS

Students who are older than 24 are called “non-traditional” students. That’s
because traditional college students are between the ages of 18 and 24. Older
students who are going to college for the first time, or students who are returning
to college to finish their degrees or get an advanced degree have different needs
and face different challenges than students who are coming to college right out of
high school.

The number of non-traditional students is growing rapidly because so many
people are losing their jobs and need more education to find another job in
another field. Getting aid can be tricky for non–traditional students and many
times the information that is out there for college students is geared towards high
school students who are heading straight to college.

Even though it’s not widely known, many colleges do have special support in
place for non-traditional students. There are programs to help non-traditional
students adjust to campus life, learn how to use the latest technology, and help
fill the needs of students who work full time and commute to classes after work.

If you are a non-traditional student and you’re not sure how to go about getting
the aid you need to pay for college, or how much aid is available to you, the best
place to start is to contact the continuing education department of the school you
are considering attending. Every college has one. The head of the non-traditional
students association on campus can help you find the resources you need to get
money for school.

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Also, make an appointment to sit down with someone from the continuing
education department and talk about the special challenges facing non-traditional
students. There are support groups, special classes, and tutoring help available
to help non-traditional students feel comfortable attending college.

NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENTS AND FINANCIAL AID

If you have never gone to college before then you have access to the same
federal financial aid programs that other students have. Student loans are the
most common way that non-traditional students pay for college.

However, if you are returning to college and you have attended college in the
past and taken out student loans you might find that you are near or at your
borrowing limit, making it difficult to borrow the money you need to pay for
additional classes.

In that case, private loans are really the only option. If you can’t get a private
loan to cover the costs of your education, you might want to try going to a non-
profit group for a scholarship or grant.

Some non-profits will give money for college to members of minorities or to single
mothers with children or to people who have special circumstances and need
some financial help to get back in school.

There are also a lot of state programs that are popping up to help non-traditional
students pay for college.

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The best way to find out about state grants and scholarships for non-traditional
students is to go to your local library. The library should have a large book or
binder listing all the different non-traditional student grant and scholarship
programs and how to apply for them.

One option that many non-traditional students prefer is to get their college degree
online from one of the many online universities.

In the past, online universities were seen as being a little shady and employers
weren’t that impressed with online degrees, but these days, very reputable four
year colleges offer degree programs and courses online.

Online education is an option for non-traditional students. It usually costs less
and the classes are held when it’s convenient for the student, eliminating the
need to work all day and then head to the campus for classes at night or take off
work to attend class.

The cost of an online degree is much lower than getting a degree on campus.
Many non-traditional students find that they can pay for an online degree with no
financial aid, or maybe a small loan, making it a great alternative to a campus
degree.

The drawback to online schools is that students do not have the access to
professors that is possible in “brick and mortar” schools. Another problem is that
degrees from online schools are not as respected by employers as degrees from
“brick and mortar” schools.



57

GET YOUR BOSS TO PAY FOR YOUR EDUCATION

Did you know that you can get your boss to pay for your education? Many
companies already have programs that will pay some or all of the tuition for their
employees who go back to school. These programs reimburse employees for
college courses if they are getting a degree in something that will help them at
their job or help the company.

The Institute for Corporate Productivity in Florida recently held a study that found
that 94% of companies offer some type of tuition assistance or reimbursement for
their employees. Sometimes, companies offer other assistance as well to pay for
fees, books, and other supplies.

Large companies know that they are better off investing in their employees than
having to train new employees so many large corporations support their
employees who want to return to school. More and more companies are
realizing that it makes much more sense for them to encourage the employees
they have to get more education and to become better at their jobs than to lose
those employees.

Some companies even offer tuition assistance programs to their part time
employees. Starbucks offers tuition assistance of up to $1,000 per year for part-
time employees who have been with the company for a certain period of time.
QuikTrip offers part-time employees $2,000 per year tuition assistance after the
employee has been there for a certain amount of time.

Other companies will help their employees pay for online courses that are related
to their jobs. Some even give the employees a designated computer in the break
room or other area that they can use to complete their online coursework.

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If you aren’t sure what, if any, tuition assistance or educational programs your
company has, ask your Human Resources director for information on your
company’s continuing education program. The money you need for school could
already be there waiting for you just for doing your job.


TALKING TO YOUR BOSS ABOUT FINANCING YOUR
EDUCATION

If your company doesn’t already have a continuing education program or tuition
reimbursement program, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get your boss to pay
for your education. You just need to convince your boss that it’s in the
company’s best interest for you to take certain courses or earn a degree. Here’s
how you can convince your boss to fund your education.

Make a Plan

If you’re going to your boss to ask for a lot of money you need to have all the
details of your plan put together before you meet with your boss. Decide what
you want to study. Find examples of some classes that you would be taking.
Compile a detailed report documenting what you want to study. Explain how it
would benefit the company for you to have that degree. Give examples of
classes that you would be taking and explain why taking those classes would
benefit the company.

You should also get information on the costs of several different schools that
offer that particular program of study. Compare the costs, the reputations of the
schools, and other factors. Giving your boss all the facts about the school and
59

letting him or her see the costs from several schools will show that you’re really
serious about doing this and want to get the best value you can.

Also, in your report you should explain in detail how this will benefit the company.
Offer to make an agreement that you will stay at the company for a certain
amount of time after getting the degree. Offer to create training materials for
other employees based on what you learn in college so that more people in the
office can benefit from your degree.

For any boss, the bottom line is about growing and improving the business. Go
easy on any information about how this will improve your life. What the boss
wants to see is the numbers detailing how much the company paying for your
degree will pay off for the company.

The more thorough you are in your report, the better the
chances that your boss will take your request seriously
and say yes. Submit the report to your boss in writing
and then schedule a follow up meeting a week or two
later so that you can discuss the idea with him or her
after they’ve had a chance to read your report.


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Making the Pitch

When you go in to meet with your boss and discuss tuition reimbursement or a
continuing education arrangement, be prepared. Your boss will probably have
several concerns about the idea and you need to anticipate his concerns and
have solutions to them.

Possible objection: Going back to school will take too much of your time
and energy away from your work.

Solution
Point out how well you manage your time in the office now and reassure your
boss that you have great time management skills. Let your boss know that you
will attend classes only at night, or offer to take online classes that wouldn’t
interfere with your work schedule. By letting your boss know that you are aware
of the fact that you will need to manage your time effectively you can reassure
him.

Possible objection: Paying for your tuition is going to be too expensive for
the company

Solution
Have a cost benefit analysis ready showing how it would cost the company more
to recruit, interview, hire, and then train a new employee to do your job than it
would to pay for your school tuition. You can also prepare figures showing the
projected increase in revenue and client satisfaction that will result from your
degree.

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Think of as many possible objections and solutions as you can and have
solutions prepared for all of them. Your boss will be impressed with your
preparedness and will be more likely to seriously consider your proposal.

When you are making the pitch to your boss, remember that selling the idea of
paying for your tuition is just like selling anything else. You need to let the boss
know why it’s in the company’s best interest and how the company can benefit
from it. Don’t make personal appeals, keep everything very professional.


A Tuition Assistance or Reimbursement Contract

If your boss goes for your pitch and decides to pay for your tuition or school fees
you will probably have to come to terms on a contract. Deciding on the terms of
the contract can be tricky and there are some things you should watch out for.
To protect yourself, don’t sign any contract that you are uncomfortable with. Don’t
be afraid to discuss parts of the contract that you find unacceptable.

When you are reading over a proposed contract, here are some things to watch
for:

How is the money disbursed?
Will the company give you a check to pay the school or is the money going to be
sent directly to the school? Do you need to pay the school and then be
reimbursed by the business? What is the time frame for reimbursement? Make
sure that the contract clearly states the terms of how the money will get to the
school or back to you and how quickly.

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Do you have to have a particular GPA?
Your boss might require you to maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA, or the contract
might state that you need to maintain a passing grade. Be sure that if there is a
certain GPA that must be met, that you can get that GPA.

The consequences of not meeting that GPA should also be very clear.

What happens if you have to drop out?
You might become ill or have a family emergency that requires you to drop out.
Don’t sign a contract unless it’s clear what is expected if you drop out.

Some companies might require you to repay the money spent on tuition, or the
company might not reimburse you for classes that you don’t finish.

If those requirements aren’t in the contract, don’t sign it until you have discussed
those conditions with the boss and know what it is expected of you if you can’t
finish for some reason.

How long do you have to stay with the company? Most companies will
require you to stay with the company for a period of time after you get your
degree if they pay for it. If you leave the company, the contract will require you to
repay the tuition the company paid for you.

Usually, a year or two years is what companies ask. Don’t sign a contract that
makes you commit to staying for an unreasonable amount of time, like four or
more years.





63

EDUCATION COST PLANNING FOR PARENTS

It’s never been more important for parents to plan ahead for their children’s
college education. College costs are rising at about 6% a year, so depending on
how young your children are, the costs of a college education could be
astronomical by the time your child is ready for school.

It’s usually hard for new parents to find the money to start a college savings
account or to make investments that will be used to help their child go to college,
but if you start planning now, even if you don’t make any huge financial
investments right away, you will still be ahead of the game when it comes to
paying for your child’s education.

There are many state
and national programs
that are set up to help
parents start putting
money aside for their
children’s education in
safe, high interest
earning accounts.




Here’s an overview of some of the most popular college savings options for
parents.

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529 PLANS

There are two types of 529 college savings plans: prepaid tuition plans and
savings plans. The money put into these accounts is all tax free. Any parent can
open a 529 account no matter what their income is. 529 plans share many of the
same advantages and disadvantages but there are slight differences in the two
plans.



529 Savings Plan

The 529 Savings plan is the most popular college savings plan used by parents.
The advantages of a 529 Savings Plan are:

529 plans are not subject to state tax in most states.

You can open a 529 account in any state, even if it’s not the state you live
in.

529 savings accounts have low management fees.

High contribution limits, so you or other family members can contribute up
to $230,000 per year to the account without penalty.

No income limits or restrictions.

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You can establish a 529 account for yourself if you are a non-traditional
student and want to start saving money for school. Family and friends can
also contribute to your 529 account.

Account investments are professionally managed.

529 plans are accepted at every college in the U.S.

You can contribute as little as $25 per month.

You can roll over an existing Education Savings Account to a section 529
Program.


There are some disadvantages to a 529 Savings Plan that you should be aware
of as well. The disadvantages are:

• You don’t control the investments. Once you deposit money into the 529
account you no longer have a say in how it gets invested.

• If you withdraw money from the account for any reason besides paying for
school you will have to pay taxes on that money at a rate of 10% or
higher.

• There are annual account fees that need to be paid, including account
maintenance fees, administrative charges, and management fees.

• If you or the child that the money is for don’t live in the state where the
account is then that money may be subject to state income taxes. So if
you open a 529 savings account for your child who lives with your ex
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spouse in another state, the money that you put into a 529 savings
account may be subject to state income tax.

• If your 529 Savings account is taxed, the taxes have to be paid from
another account. You can’t use the savings account to pay the taxes on
the account.

Most parents find that the advantages of 529 savings accounts outweigh the
disadvantages. The flexibility of the plan is something that parents like because
it gives them options when it comes to managing the money set aside for their
children’s futures.



529 Prepaid Tuition Plans

A 529 Prepaid Tuition plan is similar to a 529 Savings Plan except the 529
Prepaid Tuition plan allows parents to actually purchase college credits at today’s
prices rather than the prices that will be in place when the child is ready for
college.

So if a parent wanted to send their child to a school that has a tuition cost of
$325 per credit hour by opening a 529 Prepaid Tuition account, those parents
could buy enough credits for their child to graduate from college at $325 per
credit even if their child won’t be ready to go to college for another 15 years.

In 15 years, the cost per credit would probably be over $1000 so parents can
save a lot of money by using a 529 Prepaid Tuition account to lock in today’s
prices for their child’s education.

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The obvious disadvantage of using a 529 Prepaid Tuition account is that you
need to decide on a particular school when you open the account. So your child
would have to go to that school regardless of what the child wants. Also, if your
child decides not to go to school you’re just out of luck because those credits that
you are buying are nonrefundable.

So a 529 Prepaid Tuition account is great for parents who know what school their
child wants to attend and that their child will, in fact, go to school and not flunk
out or drop out. But for parents who don’t want to force their child to go to a
particular school Prepaid Tuition plans aren’t a great value.

J ust like a 529 Savings Plan, the 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan is not federally or
state taxed unless the child lives in a state different than the one the account was
started in, then it may be subjected to state tax.

Another advantage of the Prepaid Tuition plan is that, just like the 529 Savings
Plan, anyone can contribute to your account. So family and friends can contribute
to the child’s education whenever they have some extra money and want to help
out.

You can also establish a Prepaid Tuition account for yourself, which can be very
useful if you plan on attending college in the next few years. If you already know
the school you want to attend you can lock in cheaper tuition prices by opening a
Prepaid Tuition account for yourself.



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UPROMISE ACCOUNTS

Upromise accounts are more like traditional savings accounts but it allows you to
earn bonuses for shopping with certain companies. Every time you shop with a
company that participates in the Upromise program, a portion of your total sale
goes into your child’s college savings account. Upromise accounts are not
interest bearing, so it’s in your best interest to have a 529 Savings account and
link your Upromise account to that account where that money will earn interest.

Upromise accounts are easily linked to 529 Savings accounts. The assets in
your Upromise account sit there until a periodic sweep when all the money in the
Upromise account is transferred to the 529 Savings account where it will earn
interest.

With a Upromise account you can save money for several future students at
once; you don’t need a separate account for each one. In order to make your
purchases count for your Upromise account you need to go to the Upromise
website and register your cards.

You register your credit cards, bank cards, even your grocery, pharmacy, pet
store, or other store given discount savings cards. Then every time you buy
something from a company that participates in the Upromise program, no matter
where you buy it, some of the money will automatically go into your Upromise
account.

Large, well known companies like Tide, Coca-Cola, Huggies, Keebler, Kellogg
and others participate in Upromise so you can save money for your kids’
education when you buy the normal household products and food that you need
every week.


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COLLEGE SAVING TIPS FOR PARENTS

Sometimes, it can seem like there’s never any money to put aside for your kid’s
college education without giving up some necessity. All kids need things, usually
they need a lot of things, and that can make finding money to put into savings
difficult.

But you can put away more money than you think if you are more careful about
how you spend your money. Here are some easy ways that you can save a few
dollars a day that you can put into your children’s college funds.

On holidays and birthdays, ask family and friends to buy one small gift for
your child and deposit the rest of what they would normally spend on
holiday or birthday gifts into the child’s college fund.

Make a cup of coffee at home and save the $4 you would spend on your
morning coffee.

Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out. Eating a packed lunch can
save $50 a week. In just 6 months you could add another $1,200 to your
child’s college fund just by eating a packed lunch each day.

Carpool to work to save money on gas, or ride a bike, or take public
transportation.

Eat out only one night per week instead of 3 or 4.

Instead of buying designer clothes and shoes for your kids, shop at lower
priced stores or recycle clothes from friends and family members.
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Use the library to get books and movies instead of renting or buying
movies and buying books.

Saving in small ways daily can mean you have a lot more money to put away for
your child’s future.


TEACH YOUR KIDS TO SAVE

As your kids get older you can also teach and encourage them to save money to
go towards their college education. Teaching kids the value of saving money
and the value of contributing to their own future can be very valuable. Sure, they
won’t be able to contribute much money but you will be teaching them how to live
frugally and how to save money in little ways.

Studies have shown that the behavior patterns taught to kids in their childhood
will continue over a lifetime, so make sure that you are setting a good example
for your kids and teaching them to save money for their futures. Here are some
small ways you can teach kids to save:

Invest their allowance
Kids usually get some kind of an allowance for doing chores around the house.
When you give them their allowance, give it to them in singles and ask them if
they want you to put a dollar or two into their college savings fund. Encourage
them to put money in the fund by taking them with you to the bank and showing
them how their money is growing.

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First jobs
When your child is old enough to get a paper route or babysit, encourage them to
deposit one week’s pay or one babysitting gig’s pay to their college savings fund.
As they get older, show them how to keep track of the money that is in the
account. The more invested they are emotionally, the more they will invest
financially.

Take a college trip
Once your child is nearing the end of middle school or about to start high school,
take him or her on a college tour. Showing the child a real college will encourage
them to save money so that they can afford to go to college after high school.

If you can make the college experience seem real to your child then your child
will be more likely to want to save for college while at the same time learning
responsible spending habits and how to spend money. Good planning can give
your child a head start at paying for college and at living in a financially
responsible way.





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CONCLUSION

College costs are skyrocketing, and are predicted to keep rising at a rate of more
than 6% per year over the next decade. But it’s never been more important to
have a college degree in order to be successful. So the best thing to do is to get
someone else to pay for your college degree.

There are lots of ways that you can find financing for your college degree - family
members, scholarships, grants, loans, and even employer contributions. With all
the financing that is available, you should have no trouble finding a way to pay for
college, although it might take some time.

Parents, you need to be committed to saving for your children’s education. They
need you to start planning for their futures now so that when it comes time for
them to go to college they won’t need to worry about how pay for it, just whether
or not they can get accepted.

Non-traditional students can find creative ways to finance an education that will
help them move ahead or even find a new career. If your company doesn’t offer
its employees financial assistance for school, you can try to get a program
started where you work.

Determination and a little creativity will go a long way in helping you find ways to
get someone else to pay for your college education no matter what age you are.

Good luck on your journey!





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