How to get free money for college

CollegeBenefitsResearchGroup:

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Originally posted on PIX 11:

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – After four years in higher education, the average loan debt for U.S. students is $30,000.

Parents and students are making their college decisions now, but there are still ways to get free money toward an education.

Experts with the College Benefits Research Group explain that there are need-based and merit-based scholarships, as well as chances to negotiate more financial aid, to help offset the rising cost of college and keep student loan debt down.

May 1 is the deadline by which decisions must be made so applicants commonly think there isn’t any more money out there as the date approaches, but experts say that isn’t true.

Here are a select few need-based scholarships available in New Jersey:

  • Tuition Aid Grant (TAG)
  • Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Grant
  • For more information, visit Hessaa.org

And select need-based scholarships available in New York:

  • Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

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Your First Choice College Didn’t Offer Enough Financial Aid – Now What? (EZine Articles)

Your admissions application was accepted. You filed your FAFSA and other financial aid information. Your student aid report and award letter just arrived. But their offer falls short of your expectations. What should you do now?

There are several steps you should consider before giving up. First you should review your FAFSA for possible errors. Next you should appeal your financial award. Finally you should weigh your options along with competing offers and then make an educated decision about your future.

Read Keith Maderer’s article for things to do if you’re seeking additional financial aid.

Making the ‘Right’ College Choice (Huffington Post)

“I’m excited about college, but how do I make the right choice?”

I think a lot about high school seniors facing this question. You’ve taken AP classes, led student clubs, worked part-time, and made your families proud. Now you’ve got a big decision.

I suspect some well-intentioned adults may be offering thoughts about what’s best for you: Stay close to home. Price matters most. Choose based on rankings. Pick the college whose graduates have the highest starting salaries.

Rather than obsessing about the “right” decision, how do you make your own decision? Many of us make lists of pros and cons. The problem, of course, is that you could fill a notebook with such deliberations and still not resolve this question. One’s college choice requires the proverbial “leap of faith” into a future you cannot know, but will create with the resolve to learn, give, and grow.

Read Daniel R. Porterfield’s article for three factors that are especially indicative of a great college choice

10 Rules For Decoding College Financial Aid Award Letters (Forbes)

If you’re a high school student whose family income doesn’t qualify for the 1% club, there’s a very good chance that the most important day of your college application experience won’t be the day you turn in all of your applications or the day you get accepted to your first school. No, if you’re part of the 99%, the crucial day in this drawn out process will when you receive your last “student aid award” letter, allowing you finally to compare the true cost of attending the (hopefully) many schools that were smart enough to accept you.

According to student loan servicer Sallie Mae, nearly two-thirds of families (65%) used grants and scholarships to pay for college in 2013, up from 61% in 2012 and up from only half of families five years ago. What’s more, 49% of parents say they’re not regularly setting aside money to college savings, and 70% of those parents say the reason they’re not saving is because they simply can’t afford to. In other words: more and more families are counting on grants and scholarships (including tuition discounts from the school itself) to pay for college.

This, in turn, means the “financial aid award” letters that usually arrive within a few weeks of college acceptances could well determine where you spend the next four years.  Unfortunately, an aid award isn’t as easy to decipher as an acceptance or rejection letter.

Read Maggie McGrath’s article for tips on how to understand your financial aid awards.

How to Properly Correspond with a College (CollegeXpress)

Interacting with representatives from the colleges you’re considering isn’t like chatting with one of your besties. It’s more formal, certainly, and you want to present your best self, from avoiding text-message speak to addressing the proper point of contact. But there’s more to it than that. One admission expert explains how.

Unless you personally know someone in the admission office of the college(s) you are applying to, remember that you are going to be primarily judged by what you submit in writing. Many times your written correspondence (including e-mails) will become part of your file.

Read Lawrence M. Rich’s article for important thing to keep in mind when corresponding with colleges

Do’s and Don’ts for High Schools Seniors When Admissions Decisions Come In (IvyWise)

It’s decision time, and high schools seniors across the country (and the globe!) are anxiously waiting for colleges to release regular decisions.

When the verdict is in, whether it’s an acceptance, denial, or waitlist decision, it’s an emotional time for everyone.

Whether the decision is (hopefully) what you were expecting, or a big disappointment, there are ways to appropriately handle the outcome.

Read the article for a list of the top do’s and don’ts for admissions decisions.

5 Ways to Get Started on College Apps Before Senior Year (Her Campus)

High school seniors everywhere are sitting next to their mailboxes, anxiously awaiting decisions from their respective colleges. But if you’re a high school junior, you might just be trying to survive your high school workload without even starting to think about college. But you don’t have to wait until September to get started on your college applications! There are plenty of things you can do now so you can be college-admissions-ready come fall.

Read Lily Herman’s article for ways to get a jump start on your college applications.