How Much Financial Aid Can I Get?

Dec 23, 2015 9:03:28 AM

On January 1, the floodgates to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) open up. Students and parents nationwide will eagerly complete the application (some laboring over it for hours) in hopes of getting the most financial aid possible. The majority of these families have no idea what to expect.

How much financial aid can you get and what influences what you are awarded? This is a question we hear again and again at the College Planning Center and the big answer is, "it depends."

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students, College Financial Aid

Local scholarships in Rhode Island

Mar 7, 2015 9:52:00 AM

If you think your opportunity to get a scholarship has passed, think again. Lots of local scholarships are Start your free search still accepting applicants through April, May or June. 

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students

5 worst pieces of advice we've heard about finding scholarships in RI

Jan 7, 2015 3:00:00 PM

If you are concerned about how you will pay for college, you may have begun to look into various scholarships in RI. At first glance, it may seem as though there is no funding available for the average high school senior.  However, there are plenty of scholarships available - for every kind of student - that may take some time to locate and apply for. The key is to not get discouraged and listen to bad advice.  

Here are five of the worst pieces of advice we've heard about finding scholarships in Rhode Island. And if you are interested, here are some additional tips to make your search a success

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students, College Financial Aid

Financial Aid: Paying for College for Free

Dec 29, 2013 3:30:00 PM

As a parent of a high school student, you may believe that there is no free money for college, but this is simply not true. Billions of dollars in federal financial aid and millions more in private scholarships and grants exist to help your student in funding their education. Despite common belief, help is also available for middle-class families.

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students, College Financial Aid

Five Strange Scholarships that You Might Qualify For

Oct 16, 2013 1:35:00 PM

There are many misconceptions floating around out there about college scholarships. For example, you don't have to be a perfect, straight-A student to get one. In fact, many scholarships in Rhode Island are specifically designed for students with unique gifts, talents and interests. To help inspire you as you begin your own college scholarship quests, we thought we would share some of the five strangest scholarships we've come across, just to reassure you that many scholarship and grant supporters are interested in more than just brains and academic talent.

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students

Paying for college: Why you shouldn't ignore local scholarships

Feb 28, 2013 8:40:00 AM

Local scholarships can often be dismissed by students because of their comparitively low values to national scholarships. While a local scholarship from the local Elk's club may be for $500, a national sweepstakes may offer a full ride. But it is very important to consider the number of applicants when applying to scholarships. With fewer applicants, as is the case with local scholarships, you have a much higher probability of winning the award. A few local scholarships could cover the costs of book and living expenses, reducing the amount you need to borrow and easing the burden of funding education costs.

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students, College Financial Aid

Top 5 Places to Find Scholarships in RI

Apr 5, 2012 2:50:00 PM

Now that you have received your college financial aid award letter, you may be wondering, "how am I going to pay for this?" Scholarships, even small ones, are a great way of reducing the amount you need to borrow for college. When looking for scholarships in Rhode Island, keep in mind these key places:

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students

Free Money for College: What's available

Apr 2, 2012 5:12:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students, College Financial Aid

Free Money for College: Dos and Don'ts

Feb 28, 2012 11:55:00 AM

When seeking free money for college, there are a few guidelines you will want to follow. Read below for common dos and don'ts. 


  • Explore all of your free money for college options prior to seeking loans.
  • Start your search early.
  • Ask your prospective colleges what their criteria is for receiving merit based student aid.
  • File the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as early as October 1. By filing this application, you could qualify for thousands in federal or state grant aid. Make sure to file by your school's specified deadline. 
  • Dedicate a small amount of time each week to searching for scholarships.
  • Look for local scholarships. The amounts may be lower but they have many less applicants so you are more likely to get the award.
  • Apply to school or two where your academic profile might be a little better than the other students, increasing your chances of getting a merit scholarship.


  • Miss your school's deadlines for filing for financial aid.
  • Ever pay a service to find you scholarships. These are mostly scams and plenty of free scholarship search options are available to you.
  • Think you can accomplish your entire scholarship search in just one day. It takes time to find options that are a good fit for you.
  • Limit your scholarship search to the internet. Look in the newspaper, go to the library. Your guidance office should have a list of local scholarships for you to look through. Have your parents ask their employers if they offer a scholarship.
  • Think the FAFSA is too hard to complete. Free services are available to help you through this process.

Book Free Appointment Now


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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students, College Financial Aid

Who Gets Free Money for College?

Feb 10, 2012 6:13:00 AM

Are you looking for free money for college? College scholarships and grants abound, but how do you establish yourself as a recipient? The simple answer to this is: Those who do not apply will not receive. Money will not come to you unless you tell it you are there and waiting.

What do I need to do?

The first step for most college aid is to apply for the FAFSA. The FAFSA allows you to establish eligibility for – and to be considered for – federal grants and awards such as the Pell and FSEOG. These do not need to be repaid and are awarded based on your family's need.

In addition to establishing eligibility for federal grants, many institutions use the FAFSA to judge eligibility for institution-specific grants. These grants can extend well beyond the grants the government will provide. This is especially true at more expensive private institutions, which may cost more on the surface, but also have larger endowments and understand the value of attracting motivated students. Usually, once you are accepted at such colleges, these colleges will tell you what kind of financial package they can offer you, including scholarships and grants.

If you need help completing your FAFSA, free appointments can be made at

Merit-Based Scholarships

So what to do once you have applied for the FAFSA and other need-based awards through the government and individual institutions? Start your free search

Other than need-based awards, most awards are merit-based – but merit-based does not always mean you need to have a 4.0. Many scholarships have GPA requirements as low as 2.0, or do not judge based on GPA at all. In these cases, you only need to demonstrate sufficient skill or involvement in other areas such as community service or involvement.

Scholarships can also focus on different geographic regions. Nation-wide scholarships tend to be more competitive, while local scholarships are usually easier to obtain. Rhode Island Scholarships' scholarship database can help Rhode Island students find local scholarships that may be difficult to locate otherwise. Other more general scholarship engines also exist that can help locate other scholarships.

Once you have received all possible scholarship and grant awards, the next option are loans, which need to be repaid, or paying out of pocket. So while you have time, give yourself the resources to apply, apply, and apply for that free money for college that's waiting for you.

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students