Apr 02, 2012 Lindie Johnson

Free Money for College: What's available

FreemMoney for college comes in two basic forms: grants & scholarships. Free money for college does not need to be paid back, unlike loans, so it is best to maximize your free money before turning elsewhere.

gradsGrants and scholarships are awarded by the federal government, states, institutions of higher education, and private organizations & companies.While you may have missed the deadlines for qualifying for state or institutional aid at this stage in the game, there is still plenty of private free money available so don't get discouraged!

Federal Free Money for College

The Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (often referred to as the FSEOG) are the most common federal grant types. These loans are both need based loans, only available to students who can prove financial need. Only the neediest students qualify for FSEOGs.

In order to qualify for a federal student aid grant, you are required to fill of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Keep in mind, you should never pay a fee to file the FAFSA. You can file for free at www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you need help, you can make a free appointment with the College Planning Center of Rhode Island.

State Free Money for College

Your state may offer a state grant or scholarship program. In Rhode Island, you must file the FAFSA by March 1 in order to qualify for a Rhode Island State grant but deadlines vary from state to state. Awards also range from state to state so check with your state for details.

Institutional Free Money for College

Your college may offer both grant and scholarship programs. While grants are most often awarded to students who prove financial need (again, you may be required to file the FAFSA and possibly an additional financial aid form required by the school such as the CSS PROFILE or a school form.) Scholarships may be awarded based on need, academics, talents or some combination. Pay attention to school deadlines for applying for scholarships and grants! May are as early as late fall. You must submit your financial aid materials by the school's deadline to qualify for institutional grants and scholarships, in most cases.

Private Free Money for College

Private money can come in both grants and scholarships but scholarships are more common. There are millions of dollars in scholarships available to students each year just waiting to help you pay for college.

Scholarships are NOT just for straight-A student and off-the-charts athletes. There are scholarships available to students with all types of talents, skills & qualities. For example, do you like to fish? There may be a scholarship out there just waiting for you. Or maybe your parent's workplace offers a scholarship to children of employees.

RIScholarships.org: Start your free search

Search everywhere and talk to everyone when conducting a scholarship search. Remember to search locally. Local scholarship aren't as competitive as national scholarship so they have many less applicants which means you have a better chance of getting the award if you do the work of applying. If you live in RI, you can use RIScholarships.com to start your free, local scholarship search. Otherwise, check out free websites like, www.collegeboard.com to get started on your private scholarship search. Don't forget to check your guidance office, local newspaper and library for other opportunities available to those in your community.

And remember, $500 may not seem like a like in the grand scheme of college costs, but it could mean borrowing $500 less and funding personal expenses or books for the semester! It's worth it!

Published by Lindie Johnson April 2, 2012
Lindie Johnson