One of the best ways to make sure that you’ve got the cash to pay for school is if you are able to actually find these grants. Lots and lots of people seem to be talking about how grants paid for their college, but unfortunately, they never say actually how they got the ball rolling. It is not uncommon to go into things like this, completely clueless as to where to begin.
So, what are the best places to search for grants? The better question is… who should you talk to?
In this business, it is your ability to ask questions that will land you the real dollars. So, let’s get the formalities out of the way and get you to step one.
Hop onto the FAFSA or the Free Application For Student Aid website. This program is actually totally government funded, and will provide you with both access to federal loans, but also federalized and state run grant programs. FAFSA is your secret weapon on this journey for college funding, and we will come back to it again and again in the following articles.
Now, you need to create an account with FAFSA. This account will ask you for lots of identification information from your telephone number to your SSN. Once you’ve gotten this information into the system, you are now about ready to begin, but first, you need to do some learning about your current status.
Finding out about your status is basically determining what kind of applier you are going to be. For instance, if you are under 21 and unmarried, you are probably going to be considered “non-emancipated”. (Other factors apply, such as prior military service, employment, etc.) If you are over the age of 21 and/or married, then you are considered “emancipated”. This status will determine how you apply for the grants.
Grants are largely determined upon your income level, and not really who you are as a person or achiever. This means that if you are emancipated, then you consider yourself a person of your own. A non-emancipated is still a dependent, who is spoken for by his or her parents.
So, if you are the child of millionaire parents, yet you are considered emancipated with pennies to your name, then you might qualify for more government grant monies. However, if you are non-emancipated, your parents must make under $20,000 in order to qualify for Pell grants. It is important to figure out who you are to get the process going, and when you do, much of that will be seen in your FAFSA account.
Your next step is to do some of your own research, scour the FAFSA website, and talk to professionals to get your foot in the door. The best place to begin is to figure out which grants that you might be able to qualify for. Now, bear in mind… the government cannot “discriminate” and say no to your application, if you fit all the requirements. So, this is going to be your most important step in gaining grant money.
Once you’ve got a good idea of which ones you would like to apply for, you should talk to a pro. Your college Financial Aid Office will have such pros behind desks, ready to help. Use them, and use them often. That is why they sit there.
They can actually walk you through the process of applying for the grants so that you put down the right information to get the funds. Have no fear, they do this on many occasions… you will not be the first, and you will not be their last. Once you’ve done this, you are well on the way to getting that education without those pesky student loans!