Financial aid can be one of the most intimidating hurdles for any student. As a re-entry student, you might not have the help of that high school counselor, but there are a lot of other resources you can take advantage of.
Make friends with your financial aid office; you’re going to be there a lot. You’ll start by filling out FAFSA, the federal student aid questionnaire that every applicant completes . . . but that’s only a start. The 80/20 rule applies here–80% of the money will go to the 20% of applicants who take the time to do additional follow-up. Keep asking questions about what scholarships might be available for a student in your individual circumstance, and follow up with each lead they give you. Your extra diligence can unearth thousands of dollars to pay for your education.
Seek out other opportunities
College financial aid offices aren’t the only place to look for scholarship dollars. Many employers offer tuition assistance, even if they don’t publicize it. Also, ask bankers about scholarship opportunities in your city–local scholarships are typically administered by local banks. Research the scholarship possibilities for any clubs, organizations or affiliations you belong to, as well as anything that might be available for your career or extracurricular interests.
Hit the Web
Your financial aid office can let you know the best current Web resources for scholarship listings–and what resources you should avoid. There are dozens of scholarship databases that provide a wealth of information about available scholarships.
With a little discipline and focus, you can be one of the students who find little-known scholarships, rather than one of the many who leave those dollars sitting on the table.