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I've applied for many scholarships, but haven't won any yet. What other financial support can I find to help me pay for college?

My family supports my education and are proud of me for pursuing an engineering degree. College is very expensive though, and my parents and I are going to be in debt for many years if I can't find some external financial support. My parents are retired and live on a fixed income, so any support I can win, and not have to reimburse, will help lift this financial burden we will have. #scholarships #financial-aid #scholarship #grants

Hello Rachel! First things first, as a college student, it is best to apply for financial aid through fafsa.ed.gov. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid which helps out your college financial situations. Also in college, there are problems such as EOP and CARE if you need that extra support for financial reasons and education too. There are the best resource out there and it is free; if you qualify for the EOP or CARE program, i would definitely take advantage of it. I wasn't a huge fan of scholarship, especially online ones just because I knew I wouldn't win. Try to apply for scholarships that are local in your city! Good luck in college, hope this helps you! Joey C.

Thanks Joey for your comments. I have completed the FAFSA, and was lucky enough to get a Perkins loan because of my family's low income. I was not aware however of the EOP or CARE programs, so I will look into them. Thanks for bringing them to my attention; I appreciate your help! Rachel B.

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Amy’s Answer

Hi Rachel, I'm not sure what kinds of scholarships you've applied for yet, but I would look into ones that have some kind of essay component. My understanding is that those have fewer people applying since they require more work. That might up your odds. You may also want to look at AmeriCorps programs, especially if you are considering the nonprofit sector. You'll gain great experience and they provide education awards after your year of service. The downside to this is that you would either have to take time away from school to do your AmeriCorps service or take out loans for school and pursue this when you're done. I've done both the NCCC program and the VISTA program, and had great experiences with both. Here is the link for more info: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps

Another thing to consider if you do end up taking out loans for college is the program offered by the government for public service loan forgiveness. Once you graduate, you must work for a nonprofit for 10 years while making payments consistently on your loans. At the end of the 10 years the balance of your loans will be forgiven. You can use an income-based repayment plan so if you aren't making much money once you graduate, your payments will likely be small. The program is specifically for government student loans and not private loans. Here is the link: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service

Sorry I don't have more info on scholarships you can apply for now, but know that there are other options out there.

Dear Ms. Spencer, Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question. Your suggestions are excellent, and introduced me to organizations and programs that I was not aware of. I have already talked with my parents about these options, and we will be investigating them more. It was very helpful to hear that you were involved in a couple of the programs, and that they were positive experiences. Thank you again for your input! Rachel B.

Happy to help Rachel! I know how tough it is to have to figure out how to pay for college and then carry the burden of student loans for years after. Another option I just thought of is looking into doing some work at a community college before moving on to a more expensive 4-year school. You'll have to take a lot of general education classes anyway, and it's a lot cheaper to do at the community college level. Best of luck to you! Amy Spencer

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Simeon’s Answer

Beyond applying for scholarships and grants, I'd recommend seeing if you qualify for work study. Work study is a bank of grant money that you can pull hourly wages from like a normal job, usually part time. Assuming the same hours and pay, work-study is way superior. You can get study time back if you work in a dorm lobby or a library. You can get lots of free food if you work at the cafeteria. I was able to do both and it was a big boon to both my undergraduate and graduate studies. It helped me connect the dots financially while living in college as well. Plus, you save yourself hours of time commuting to and from campus and don't have to deal with quite the same stress/pressure from having a real job off-campus. Lastly, see if you can work as a dorm supervisor/RA as they often get free room and board depending on the university you're going to.