Financial Aid and Scholarship Websites
The Department of Education’s site with online FAFSA.
Probably the best site for information on all aspects of financial aid.
Loans, grants, estimators; if it has to do with financial aid, it is probably here.
Probably the biggest and best scholarship search site on the web.
You do have to register, but it’s free.
The online first step of the financial aid form required by many selective colleges.
Financial Aid Based on Need
The majority of the student population in higher education today is receiving some kind of financial aid from colleges and/or state and federal governments based on need. As a general rule, if parents have a question about whether or not they would qualify for financial aid, they should go ahead and apply for it. Often families with large incomes do qualify, depending on other financial commitments (number of children in private schools, or in college, or medical bills, etc.)
1. Federal Aid – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be filed in order to receive any kind of need-based aid from the government, the state, or the college. The form arrives in the counseling office in late December and must be filed after January 1, but before March 2. There is no fee to process this form. The FAFSA can be accessed online athe the Deparment of Education website at www.fafsa.ed.gov/. The FAFSA is a federal form and is free. DO NOT USE "fafsa.com" this is a paid service.
2. State Aid – To be eligible for state aid (Cal Grant), a student must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by early March of the Senior year in high school and must be applying to at least one California college. The GPA Verification Report is filed electronically by the College Center for all Seniors, so there is no need to complete the GPA Verification Form individually. There is no fee for the Cal Grant or the FAFSA.
3. Institutional Aid - In addition to the FAFSA, some private colleges require families seeking need-based aid to file the CSS PROFILE. The online first step of the financial aid form is accessed at: profileonline.collegeboard.com/index.jsp. The CSS PROFILE should be filed as soon as possible. There is a fee for the CSS PROFILE registration and per college form.
Financial Aid Based on Merit and Special Qualifications
Colleges and universities, private organizations and companies provide scholarships based on merit and special qualifications. Like grants, scholarships are outright gifts of money that need not be repaid.
1. Colleges and Universities – By checking off appropriate boxes on the application form, a student lets a college know that he/she wants to be considered for an academic scholarship. Winning such an award depends on an outstanding high school record or an outstanding talent. Some institutions offer special scholarships in athletics or music, be sure to read each school's financial literature thoroughly.
2. Private Organizations and Companies – Numerous private organizations (Elks, Soroptimists, Rotarians, etc.) and companies (Target, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Edison, etc.) offer scholarships. Some send applications to the college counseling office. The criteria may range from a superior academic record, to the excellence of a specific project or essay, to an unusual degree of volunteer involvement in the community. In addition, there are a number of competitions for scholarships available to students with special qualifications having to do with ethnic background, special talents, and religious beliefs. The counselor informs the students of these opportunities as they become available. Many companies offer scholarships to children of employees.