This blog post is for all of you students out there who are seeking funding for your educational endeavors. Many of you often contact us and ask if we can help you find grant money. We typically focus on grants for municipalities, organizations, and educational entities, rather than individuals. However, we do try to help where we can, so here are some places to begin your student grant search.
1) Your educational institution’s financial aid office
If you have a particular school in mind, contact that school’s financial aid office and inquire about what grant or scholarship opportunities are available. Each educational entity has grants and scholarships that are specific just to its institution, and its financial aid office should be able to provide the most specialized expert advice in such a situation.
The United States government offers various programs to both international and domestic students. In addition to direct loans, which must be repaid, the government offers Pell grants, which do not need to be repaid. In order to receive federal aid for college, you must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. You can then receive eligibility requirements for financial aid and estimates of the aid for which you are eligible.
The U.S. Department of Education’s website also offers information to students who already have financial aid. This information includes repaying, deferring, or canceling student loans, student loan forgiveness, defaulting on student loans, and an income-based repayment plan.
3) Your home state’s educational department, association, or other office
Each state in the U.S. offers different opportunities to its residents. Contact your state’s educational department, association, or government office to find out what opportunities are available.
Michigan provides its residents with this guidebook on planning for college, including a wealth of financial resources.
Mississippi’s Office of Student Financial Aid website boasts that the state legislature gives about $30 million each year for students to use towards college. This money mostly comes in the form of loans and scholarships.
California offers numerous financial aid programs for both residents and non-residents of the state. Some of these programs are very specific to a field of study. For example, there are loan and grant programs specific to the fields of child development, law enforcement and nursing, among others.
Maryland’s Higher Education Commission offers students “an extensive array” of grants, scholarships, and other awards for students studying beyond high school. It offers both merit-based and need-based assistance.
Information on state-specific financial aid opportunities is widely available online. You could begin your search with your high school guidance counselor or search your state’s educational commission or financial aid office. Try searching something like Illinois state student financial aid, of course, changing the word “Illinois” to your home state.
If you are a student who wants to study in another state, you also might want to look into the other state’s educational department, financial aid office, etc. Some states offer assistance to out-of-state students as well as its own residents.
4) Study abroad agencies
For U.S. and international students who wish to study abroad, your local educational offices or government institutions is a great place to start in your financial aid search. The following websites might also be useful:
IEFA (International Education Financial Aid) – This website is a great resource for financial aid information for both U.S. and international students who wish to study abroad.
NAFSA (NAFSA: Association of International Educators) – This organization offers online resources, products, and services for students who want to study abroad and for those people who work in study abroad programs.
Another aspect to consider when searching for student grants and scholarships is the area of study you plan to pursue. For example, health care occupations are considered a “hot” field right now. Therefore, you might find many financial aid opportunities available for that area of study. Try searching terms like nursing student financial aid, or change the word “nursing” to your field of study.
You’ll do best if you plan and think ahead. Start looking for opportunities well before your senior year in high school. It might take some time, but it could also save you thousands of dollars.
Photo by: scui3asteveo, Steven S.