FAFSA, Grants, Money, Scholarships

FAFSA and Financial Aid Tips for Low-Income Students

No Comments 23 February 2017

If you come from a low-income household, paying for college can be intimidating. Take a look at these tips financial aid and FAFSA tips to receive the most aid you are eligible for.

Apply for the FAFSA early. More than a dozen states award grants on a first-come, first-served basis. That means that the later you apply, the less likely you are to receive grants. Only about 33 percent of low-income students file the FAFSA during the first three months of application season. This is compared to 58 percent of middle-income students and more than 71 percent of high-income students. For this reason, low-income students tend to miss out on billions of dollars in grants by filing the FAFSA too late.

Use the IRS data retrieval tool. You must fill out more than 100 questions on the FAFSA – that can be intimidating if you do not understand each question. That is where the IRS data retrieval tool comes in. This tool will pull information from your tax returns and input them directly onto your FAFSA application.

Seek out free money. There is no limit on how many scholarships you can apply to. The more scholarships a student receives, the less their total out-of-pocket cost will be for college. We are always updating the College Greenlight scholarship database, so be sure to always check in on your scholarship matches. You should also look into grant partnerships between colleges you are considering and organizations to maximize how much money you receive.

Consider work-study. The work-study program is based on financial need and provides an opportunity to earn money to that will help cover college expenses. The amount you earn will depend on how much you decide to work. But it is important to keep in mind that this money won’t be available to pay tuition at the beginning of the semester, but will instead help to cover ongoing expenses throughout the year.

Ask for help. There are multiple free sources you can utilize for help with filling out the FAFSA. Your counselor will be a great resource for any questions you or your parents may have. The U.S. Department of Education sponsors a toll-free hotline (1-800-433-3243) that can answer any questions you may have about student aid and the FAFSA.

Greenlight to College Month, Scholarships

Big Money Scholarships

No Comments 21 February 2017

When it comes to scholarships, the bigger the better. Take a look at this list of scholarship with big money awards.

Generation Google Scholarship – This scholarship is for college-bound high school seniors who are minorities and pursuing a degree in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering or a related field. Individuals with a disability pursuing an eligible degree also can apply for this scholarship. The award amount for this scholarship is $10,000. Male students can apply here and female students can apply here. Applications are due March 2.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program – College-bound high school seniors who have received standardized testing scores in the top 15 percent (a combined SAT score of 1,200 or above and/or an ACT composite score of 26). Applications open in late September and the award amount is usually $40,000.

Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship – This scholarship is for college-bound high school seniors of African American descent who are passionate about technology. Applicants must plan to study engineering, computer science, computer information systems or select business programs (such as finance, business administration or marketing). Applicants must hold a minimum 3.3 GPA. Applications are due March 1 and the scholarship award amount is $5,000.

UNCF/Koch Scholars Program – African American students who plan to study/are currently studying accounting, business, economics, engineering, history, philosophy or political science are eligible for this scholarship. Students must hold a minimum 2.7 GPA. Applications are due April 1 and the scholarship award amount is $5,000.

Wentcher Foundation Scholarship – This scholarship is for graduating high school seniors in the Chicago Public Schools. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and been accepted to an accredited college or university. Scholarships will be awarded based on talent, need and character. Applications are due March 1 and the scholarship award amount is $10,000.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholarship – High school and college students of Hispanic heritage are eligible for this scholarship. Applications are due March 30 and the scholarship award amount ranges between $500-$5,000. Students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Wells Fargo American Indian Scholarship Program – This scholarship is for members of an American Indian tribe or Alaska Native group. Applicants must be studying banking, resort management, gaming operations, management and administration (including accounting, finance, information technology and human resources). Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Scholarship award amount varies and the application deadline is May 1.

Emma L. Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media Work/Study Program – Minority students who are graduating high school seniors or college freshmen are eligible for this work/study program. Applicants must be pursuing a career in the media industry. Award amount can vary.

State Farm Good Neighbor Scholarship – This scholarship is for college-bound high school seniors. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and demonstrate financial need. Applications are due March 1 and the scholarship award amount is $2,500.

For the opportunity to apply for more scholarships like these, join the Greenlight to College Marathon. It is a free event that gives students a chance to earn up to $100 every hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Central Standard Time), Feb. 25.

FAFSA, Federal Loans, Grants, Merit Aid, Money, Private Loans, Scholarships, State Loans

Understanding Your Financial Aid Letter

No Comments 20 February 2017

When you’re accepted to a college, you’ll receive a letter explaining the financial aid package you are awarded.

These letters are sometimes filled with terms you might not be familiar with. You need to make sure you understand what your financial aid letter offers before you accept any part of it.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You will be told about grants, scholarships, work-study programs and federal student loans. Grants and scholarships are funds that you never have to repay. Work-study is government funding that you earn by working a qualifying job on or off campus. Federal-student loans are borrowed money that’s taken out through the government that you will repay.
  • The cost of attendance (COA), which is what you can expect to pay for tuition, fees and room and board, also will be included. Additional expenses, such as textbooks, transportation and basic necessities, are not included in this cost. Tip: You cannot rely on this estimate beyond your freshman year. The cost of attendance is not fixed and does not take potential tuition increases into account.
  • An important aspect of your financial aid is the expected family contribution (EFC). This number, based on information from your FAFSA, estimates how much you and your family can afford to pay for college out of pocket.
  • It’s important to note that you don’t have to accept all the terms of your financial aid letter. You can decline things such as work-study and loans. Make sure to ask the right questions before you accept your letter and find the average student loan debt for each school you are accepted to. Ask how many graduates find a job in their field within six months because that is when the grace period for student loans typically ends.
  • Check to see if you can expect the same scholarships every year as well. Keep your College Greenlight profile up to date so you can find scholarships to help with college expenses.

First Generation Students, Low Income Students, Scholarships

Scholarships for Low-Income and First-Generation Students

No Comments 13 February 2017

Coming from a low-income household or being a first-generation college student can earn you money for college. Take a look at this list to see which scholarships you might be eligible for.

George Geng On Lee Minorities in Leadership Scholarship – This scholarship is for low-income, minority students from the San Francisco Bay area. Applicants must be enrolled as full-time undergraduate students at an accredited not-for-profit, four-year institution for the upcoming fall term. The award for this scholarship is typically $1,000.

Coca-Cola First Generation ScholarshipFirst-generation college students are eligible for this scholarship. This award is available at more than 400 colleges across the country. Contact the school you plan on attending to see if they offer this scholarship and how you might apply.

William F. Gandert Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship is for residents of federally assisted, low-income housing or recipients of Section 8 voucher rent assistance that demonstrate both merit and need. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents with a valid Social Security number, and demonstrate community leadership. Applicants only can apply for one scholarship offered by the NLHA Education Fund per application cycle.

The Villa Esperanza Scholarship – This scholarship is open to first-generation college students who have enrolled at Austin Community College, The University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward’s University, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson, Texas State University or Southwestern University. The award for this scholarship is typically $2,000.

AIMCO Cares Opportunity Scholarship – This scholarship is for recipients of Section 8 voucher rent assistance that demonstrate both merit and need or residents of federally assisted low-income housing. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents with a valid Social Security number. Applicants only can apply for one scholarship offered by the NLHA Education Fund per application cycle.

I’m First Scholarship – This award is for a first-generation college student seeking financial aid and scholarship support for college, who has strong writing skills and a unique perspective and demonstrates leadership in their community. Undocumented students are eligible and strongly encouraged to apply. The award for this scholarship is typically $1,000.

Inland Empire Scholarship Fund – This scholarship is for low-income, high-achieving Latino students from San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in California. Applicants must be college-bound high school seniors who demonstrate high academic achievement and community service experience. The award amount for this scholarship typically ranges between $500-$1,500.

Money, Scholarships

Scholarships Expiring in February

No Comments 26 January 2017

In the cold and dreary February weather, attending a warm weather college sounds like a dream come true. Applying to scholarships can help make those dreams a reality. Take a look at this list below and apply to those you are eligible for.

Let Girls Learn Applicants must create a 3-5 minute video that creates awareness on critical issues facing young women. The scholarship award amount ranges between $500-$1,000 and applications are due Feb. 1.

The Dream.Us Opportunity Scholarship – Low-income students are eligible for this scholarship. Applications are due Feb. 1. The award amount for this scholarship varies.

Ascend Educational Fund – This scholarship is for college-bound immigrant students who will graduate from a New York high school. Applications are due Feb. 2, and the scholarship award amount ranges between $2,500-$20,000.

Love Letters Challenge Scholarship – Applicants must create a Valentine’s Day card for a senior citizen. This scholarship is worth $3,000. Applications are due Feb. 10.

Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest – Applicants must submit an essay about an ethical issue that you have encountered and analyze what it has taught you about ethics and yourself. Applications are due Feb. 10. The award amount for this scholarship ranges between $500-$5,000.

Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois – This scholarship is for students interested in teaching in Illinois after college graduation. The award amount for this scholarship is $250-$23,000. Applications are due Feb. 15.

CORE Que Llueva Cafe Scholarship – Undocumented students of Latino/Chicano descent with financial need are eligible for this scholarship. The award amount for this scholarship is $500 and applications are due Feb. 25.

Optimist International Essay Contest – Applicants must contact their local Optimist Club and submit an essay on chasing optimism in the face of challenges. Applications are due Feb. 28 and the award amount for this scholarship is $2,500.

Wear Action Scholarship – To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must submit an essay about the impacts of gadgets in fitness. The award amount for this scholarship is $500 and applications are due Feb. 28.

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