Scholarships & Grants
Using the Net to get to college
By Donal Hinman
College is one of life's great challenges. And one of the biggest challenges is…how are you ever going to pay for it? If you or your kids are getting ready to enter the jungle of higher learning, the first thing you need to know is how to fund your expedition.
No matter what age you are, applying to college marks a significant rite of passage. Ascending to the corridors of academia comes as a monumental decision, bringing with it a whole parcel of other big decisions. Chief among them is, How are you going to pay for this grand adventure?
The world of scholarships and grants has the reputation of being a complicated and even frustrating place to travel. And perhaps that reputation is well-earned.
But, once again, thank goodness for the Web, because wending your way into this world of finding funds for your education has become a lot simpler.
To begin, a myth must be dispelled: Not all scholarships are awarded for academic achievement. If you've never had the (mis)fortune of being called Poindexter, don't worry—there are a myriad of ways to qualify for good scholarships. And a great place to begin is FastWeb, boasting a list of more than 1 million scholarships worth over $3 billion. Another helpful site is Scholarship.com, which assists you in defining your talents, academic ability, and interests to determine which scholarships to pursue.
But don't be contented to just check out one or two places. The Web is well-populated with informative sites, dedicated to helping you get the scholarships you need. So, for your perusal, we've arranged a small list of those we found to be of particular interest:
Paying for classes and text books is one thing, but if you’re relocating to attend school, then paying for residence is, well, one more thing. That's where grants can be of great use. For the undergrad with the most financial need, probably the most sought after grant is the Pell Grant—free money that doesn't run out, with no state or school deadline. Or, to be less specific, you can explore a long list of grants available to students with particular career intentions, ethnic backgrounds, disabilities, marital status, and many other qualifications.
Then again, if you want to get really specific—say, you want to pursue a career in space travel—then NASA might have a way to help you out. Way out… Or, maybe you want to go to work in the other direction, i.e., the bottom of the ocean. NOAA, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, could help you jump into the deep end.
Finally, there's the good old-fashioned student loan. The good news is student loans tend to have very low interest rates, and you get a long time to pay them back. The bad news is…you have to pay them back. FinAid is a practical guide to answering your questions on acquiring and repaying student loans, in addition to providing information on scholarships and other types of financial aid. And most importantly, there's Student Aid on the Web, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education (referenced in the short list above), as a comprehensive guide to funding education beyond high school.