How to Get the Maximum Financial Aid
In order to maximize your financial aid options, you need to utilize all the resources at your disposal. Guidance counselors and advisors help you find exactly what you need and they conduct financial aid searches on a daily basis. By picking their brains you, save yourself hours of work and leads to dead ends. There really is money out there for your education, but it takes diligence to search out the right opportunities.
Free application for federal student aid
Your first step needs to be the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application doesn't take long to complete - requiring you mostly to pull numbers from your tax forms - and it opens many doors when it comes to financial aid. Many of the scholarships and grants require a completed FAFSA before considering your application. This document allows those with the money to assess your financial need quickly and fairly when it comes to college tuition.
Organize your search
As you begin your search, mark down the websites and due dates of all the scholarships and grants you're interested in. For simplification, develop a spreadsheet for all the information - this is also a great way to help maximize your financial aid. Between the scholarships and grants you find and the ones suggested by your advisors, you may easily lose track of all the information and you don't want to waste time re-running searches you already completed. You can organize the spreadsheet by date and then prioritize, putting more stock in the scholarships that you match exactly.
Stay up to date
Learn to use your RSS reader if you haven't already. When news breaks about various scholarships, you'll receive an alert. You can get an RSS reader for free from Google Reader and subscribe to helpful blogs and key terms fitting your needs. You may quickly find grants you knew nothing about or brand new scholarships that don't have many applicants, helping you to maximize your financial aid.
Meet with your advisor
Once you build your spreadsheet, meet with your advisor again to go over your plan. The advisor might direct you to other scholarships, tell you how to become successful and reveal any knowledge that may give you an edge. In addition, the advisor might know someone who can give you a letter of recommendation who might mean something specific to the scholarship board. You want to use all the resources in your arsenal to improve your chances and maximize your financial aid.
Build a portfolio
Many of the applications are going to ask for similar information. Start a portfolio of your answers, applications, writing samples, and basically anything you used in a scholarship application. By having all this information in one place, you save massive amounts of time on the subsequent applications. The more streamlined your process, the more applications you can complete. So many sources of money exist that it's impossible to fill out every application, but you can increase your numbers by staying focused and organized. Set goals for yourself, such as the number of applications you wish to find or fill out per day. You will find money to help you pay for college tuition, just keep looking, working the steps and doing everything possible to maximize your financial aid.