Many students are anxious when it comes to financial aid. How do I find it? Do I qualify for any? When are the deadlines? While applying for financial aid should be taken seriously—you don’t want to be lax about your applications—it’s always good to step back a little, take a deep breath, and keep these fun facts in mind.
About Two Thirds of Full-Time Undergrads Receive Financial Aid
That’s right, the majority of your fellow students are awarded financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants. So if you were feeling weird about applying for aid, don’t! You are in good company. The money for these awards has already been set aside by schools and the government, so you should take advantage of it. And with that in mind…
Over $180 Billion Was Available in Financial Aid for the 2014-2015 School Year
Whoa! That’s a lot of money. It does no good just sitting around, so make sure you fill out your FAFSA and find some scholarships and grants that you can apply for. That free college money is out there. Go get it.
Financial Aid Really Took Off After WWII
A large part of this was due to the G.I. Bill (established 1944), which gives veterans tuition discounts. This enabled many people to attend college who previously had not had the means. Recently, military benefits have been extended to dependents of active military members and veterans. The Fulbright Scholars Program (established 1946), also came directly from the U.S.’s experience during WWII. The Fulbright Program works to increase global acceptance and understanding through scholarly exchange (i.e., recent graduates and professionals teach or do research in another country for a year).
Merit Scholarships Aren’t the Only Ones Out There
The majority of financial aid is actually need-based, not merit. So while working hard for grades in high school has its benefits (good study habits, the ability to self-motivate, ect.), don’t be discouraged if you weren’t in the top ten percent of your class or whatever. Financial need is based on the gap between what your prospective school costs and what you and your family can afford to pay. That means that your need will change based on how expensive your school is.
In addition to need-based aid, there are plenty of financial aid opportunities for students who want to get a little creative. We’ve assembled some of the quirkier scholarships in these articles here and here. Don’t stop your search there, though. There are scholarships out there for just about any passion or interest.
Thank John Monro for Need-Based Aid Analysis
In 1953 John Monro, who was the financial aid director at Harvard, helped to develop the College Scholarship Service. This was the first application that shared financial data of students, thus allowing for demonstration of need. Monro had a long career in the academic world, serving as an administrator at Harvard for 21 years, 9 of which where he was the dean. He left Harvard to teach at Miles College in 1967, and later at Tougaloo College in the late 1970’s, both small historically black institutions. He had a passion for teaching at these smaller schools, believing that they would have more specialized curriculums to offer than larger, mainstream schools.
Your Community Might Have Something to Offer
If you’ve ever attended your high school’s graduation ceremony (other than your own, of course), you might have noticed that a few scholarships and awards are handed out at that time to graduating students. Where do these scholarships come from? Your community and high school. Talk to your guidance counselor about where to find local grants and scholarships that can help you start your college career off right.
When Prepared, It Only Takes Around Thirty Minutes to Fill Out a FAFSA
If you were concerned that filing your FAFSA will only be a giant waste of time, it’s time to redirect your thinking in a more positive direction. Having a FAFSA on file can only help, as many schools require it for their scholarships. By completing it, you might be made aware of money that you didn’t know you qualified for! So take a little break from homework, Netflix, and social media. Remember, you don’t even have to fill it out all in one go, which means you could even work on it during breaks at your job. Or maybe get your friends together to have a FAFSA party; once everyone has completed it, reward yourselves with some well-earned snacks and a movie.
Higher Price Private Schools Can Offer More Aid
Because of endowments and alumni donations, most private schools are able to offer large amounts of financial aid, even covering some students’ full tuition costs if necessary. Private schools are better able to meet financial need (again, that gap between the cost of attendance and what you can pay) than public schools. This means that most private colleges and universities are just as (if not more) affordable than public institutions.
The First Scholarship Was Granted in 1643
Lady Anne Radcliffe Mowlson was a business-smart woman with Puritan values. She created the first endowment for Harvard University. She is remembered today with Harvard’s Radcliffe College.
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