Happy September! Fall is an exciting time: the start of football season and Back to School – not necessarily in that order. This year it’s also time to appreciate the power of non-profits, of crowdfunding, and certainly the power of a shout-out from Emmy winner Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad. His quick mention of his wife’s “Kind Campaign” during the Emmys brought her website down with people trying to log in and donate.
You may not get a mention from Aaron Paul but pay attention. If you’re a graduate who’s burdened with lots of student debt, the powers of volunteerism and of crowdfunding could mean a lot to you. Both play a role in new ways to get rid of big chunks of student debt (currently averaging about $26,000 or more per graduating student!). Discover more about traditional and non-traditional debt-relief options in this month’s Free Money Newsletter.
Our September focus is on education: both paying for it with grants and scholarships, and paying off loans once you’ve graduated. We have great information about new ways to get rid of your debt. And we have lots of tips for those still looking ahead to college. You’ll discover new ways to avoid having to borrow a lot of money – and having to pay it off later.
Discover your program today!
Getting a college education is tough enough without having to spend a lot of time and energy worrying about money. Good news: there are more resources than ever available to help you pay for school. And we've put together some great, free information to help you find it!
To make it easier to navigate we summarize that information in this newsletter, with links to the articles that will help you the most. First we highlight our two newest titles: one for those looking ahead to college and one for those who have graduated — probably with a lot of debt:
Scholarships for High School Seniors: The most important way to avoid debt is to minimize your borrowing in the first place. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But far too many people avoid a great source of “free money” – that is money that never needs to be paid back. That source is Scholarships. Don’t stop reading – scholarships are for everyone! You do not have to be the smartest kid in the class or even have a minimum GPA to win a scholarship. High School Seniors can learn more in our latest article on Scholarships for High School Seniors. (Others can get some good ideas here too!) Senior year can be a great time to find and win scholarships. Many of your friends will be focused solely on college applications or on indulging their spring fever during the second half of the year. So you’ll have a lot less competition for scholarship money. Take a look and see how much you could win and keep those college costs down!
Grants to Pay Off Student Debt: If you’ve recently graduated you may be struggling with some serious debt. Don’t get discouraged: there are new and creative ways you can reduce that burden — or even eliminate it. With the right information it’s pretty easy to take advantage of them, and you don’t have to pay someone else to help. Plenty of folks will offer, but they will just be filling out some basic paperwork you could handle yourself. We provide that information, including some examples of how others have handled their debt, in the new Grants to Pay Off Student Debt.
Regardless of whether you are just starting college or well into your college career, we have information that will help greatly with your finances. Following are summaries of the most useful resources:
Pell Grants: These are federal government grants for those who qualify based on financial need. Two great things about them: they never have to be paid back, and you don’t have to compete for them. If your income qualifies, you receive a grant. And the maximum award amount has increased for the 2014-2015 financial year to $5730. You can find out quickly if you might be eligible for a Pell Grant in a matter of minutes by taking our Quick Quiz on Qualify for a Pell Grant.
Federal Student Aid: The U.S. government provides billions in student financial aid every year. Many, many people qualify – even those with families with pretty high income. The first step to finding financial aid – and to qualifying for other help via scholarships and grants – is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA. Filling out this application should be at the top of your priority list! There are some important tips and warnings in our review of the government website fafsa on ed.gov, along with tips about studentaid.gov and college.gov. These are important sites to visit and our article will help you understand how to know you are on an official government site.
Scholarships: You don’t have to be a top student to win scholarships! Too many people ignore them because they think it’s too much work, or they don’t think they can qualify. It does take some effort to find and win scholarships, but it’s nowhere near as hard as paying off tons of debt later on. We give you some great leads in Scholarship Information, Where to Find Scholarships, and – for money anyone can win: Scholarship Contests!
This is a great time in your life, enjoy it! Take some time to explore these resources and take advantage of the help so many people and organizations are ready to provide to help you on your way.