It all starts with financial aid. And, like any college admissions topic, there are tons of resources out there to help you learn what you need to. Part of what I want to do is give you something to start with. From there, you can continue to search and find more resources, but—if you’re like me—it’s best to have somewhere to begin and go for it.
First, it’s helpful to get your financial aid questions answered. FinAid is a website dedicated to doing just that. It doesn’t have many bells or whistles, but it does do the job. Find the answers to the questions here and plenty more. The first Q&A on the FAQ page is worth sharing:
Question: I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
Answer: Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free. There is no good excuse for not applying.
Once you have that answer clear, then you can move on because everything regarding financial aid starts with the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
- What is the FAFSA? (You may want to begin with this five-minute video. Very helpful! See more videos here. )
- What about loans?
- Is there still time to save? And, more importantly, how should I be saving for college?
In addition to answers and plenty of resources to the above questions, there are also a list of Frequently Asked Questions, a super helpful Glossary, and an option to ask a Financial Aid Advisor. That's right! You can ask your question and get a response directly from an aid advisor!
The other side of the financial coin is scholarships. Again, there are numerous sites out there to assist you in your scholarship search, but if you're going to start with one, I'd recommend Fastweb, which happens to be created by Mark Kantrowitz (bio here), the same man who started Finaid.
To get started with Fastweb, you create a profile and give lots of information about yourself. This helps the site narrow and direct scholarships that could work for you. In addition to finding scholarship matches, there are also articles and tips for applying for and winning scholarships. And the Financial Aid section is one more resource to check out! I like the FAFSA Checklist they provide.
If you want one more resource to peruse, consider looking into Edvisors, yet another site in this family. It gets a bit more into the nitty gritty of finances, focusing on planning and paying for college.
I know all of this can be a bit overwhelming, but remember that everyone has to start here! The resources are out there to walk you through it, and there are always educational consultants and college counselors who are available for one-on-one support.
The key is to push through! Every single step on the college admissions road will be worth it!