You may think that because your college provides financial aid, you don’t need to search for scholarships. After all, wouldn’t your financial aid cover all your college costs? Well, that’s actually not true and you definitely want to find some scholarships. When it comes to scholarships, there are three major sources: the federal government, the colleges, and outside organizations / individuals. While colleges can indeed provide hefty financial aid packages that can greatly reduce your tuition cost, they probably won’t be able to cover the full amount.
Scholarships are the best way to pay for college, hands down. By filing the FAFSA, you become eligible for government scholarships and grants. Your college will also send an award letter to you detailing what sort of institutional scholarship you’re eligible for. Definitely file the FAFSA for those opportunities, even if you don’t think you’ll qualify. You never know what awards you’ll actually get. Not only that, but you should still look at outside opportunities.
Fortunately, there are countless outside scholarship opportunities if you know where, and how, to look. There are local ones around your hometown, national competitions with big prizes, there are scholarships dedicated to your major studies, and scholarships offered for your hobbies, interests, talents, race, religion, sport, pretty much anything. Get searching! There’s basically a scholarship for everyone and everything you can imagine. No harm in applying to scholarships you 100% qualify for (and only those).
Why You Should Apply
Every little bit counts. Even smaller ones can add up and save you a ton of money in the long run. Sometimes it’s even better to apply to a bunch of small ones rather than just one scholarship. You’ll have less competition with smaller ones, and again, the money still adds up. You don’t have to pay back scholarships, too. But you do have to pay back loans, with interest. So it’s best if you exhaust your gift aid opportunities before even considering loans. Why would you turn down free money anyway? Yes, it can be a lot of work and even overwhelming, but student loans are much worse to deal with.
Financial Aid is a Collection of Sources
You likely won’t get all of your college funding from one source. Instead, it’ll be a from various sources—your parent’s college savings, federal grants, institutional work study, outside scholarships. It could be a mix of merit and need-based aid. You should spend plenty of time seeking out these opportunities, it can save you thousands in the end. So file the FAFSA, look for some scholarships. Anything to avoid creating too much student loan debt. After all, you have to pay those loans back after college, but you don’t have to pay scholarships back.
But if you’ve exhausted your scholarships, it’s important to find the right student loan that fits your situation—and to educate yourself on how they work. With College Raptor’s free Student Loan Finder, you can compare lenders and interest rates side by side.