College Financial Aid Scholarships

The search for college financial aid scholarships can become the primary focus in the lives of many high school seniors as graduation day approaches. All of a sudden, the need to pay college tuition and other costs becomes more important than who's dating whom or whether the football team won Friday night's game. Of course, this may be a bit of an exaggeration. Even so, high school seniors are looking beyond graduation into an exciting future. Many will be leaving home and moving into dormitories or perhaps even apartments. The lure of independence beckons even if everyone in the family knows mom and dad are still going to be footing some of the bills, at least for the incidentals of laundry, pizza, school supplies, pizza, library fines, and yes, more pizza. But these costs are minor compared to tuition, room and board, books, and student fees. Private colleges and universities can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year. Even the less expensive state schools and community colleges can be a financial burden for many families. Both students and their parents will want to be diligent in seeking out as many college financial aid scholarships as possible to help offset the costs to the family.

All high school seniors are urged to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as the first step in seeking financial help. This form was created by the U.S. Department of Education and can be completed online. From the information that is provided regarding a family's household income and assets, a determination is made regarding the applicant's eligibility for need-based assistance. Even students who think their family's household income is too high for them to be eligible for need-based assistance are encouraged to complete the form. The financial information may also help determine eligibility for college financial aid scholarships that can be directed to the student. The FAFSA should be completed sometime after January 1st of the year the student is graduating from high school the closer to January 1st the better. However, much of the requested information will come from the family's income tax forms so these will need to be completed first. This is why FAFSA forms that are completed prior to January 1st are discarded. After the student's FAFSA is processed, the family will be informed of any grants for which the student is eligible and their expected contribution to the educational costs of the child.

With the FAFSA information, the student and parents can determine how much more money is needed. Before applying for student loans, they can research college financial aid scholarships. The high school guidance counselor's office is a good place to begin this search. The guidance counselor should have access to information about a variety of scholarship opportunities. Some states, such as Florida, offer scholarships to all graduating seniors who meet certain criteria. For example, Florida's Bright Future scholarship is based on the student's grade point average, SAT or ACT scores, and a minimum number of verified volunteers hours. Any student who meets these criteria is eligible for either 75% or 100% tuition at one of the state's universities. Parents should research if the state in which they reside offers a similar program before the child enters high school. This way, the family can be sure that all criteria are met throughout the high school years. Additionally, there may be other state or county programs that offer college financial aid scholarships to eligible students. Even parents of middle school students should start looking for these opportunities to be sure they meet all the eligibility requirements.

King Solomon once wrote: "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Most students will readily shout a hearty "Amen" to that sentiment. But studying is a fact of life for anyone who wants an interesting career that utilizes the gifts and interests that God has given. Many online companies offer scholarship search engines and similar services to help high school students decide on a college or major. Some of these have developed extensive databases of information about college financial aid scholarships, the majors that are offered, and part-time jobs and internships. High school students can access the information by completing an extensive questionnaire about their academic studies, extracurricular activities, and other outside interests. The search engines provide information to the user, based on the profile, about various colleges that may offer relevant programs and the relevant scholarships that are available. The best programs allow users to compare multiple colleges to evaluate the best combination of academics with scholarship and other income opportunities.

Though every student wants as many college financial aid scholarships as possible, there are other means for paying the tuition bills. Some families participate in tuition payment plans that are a type of savings account offered by many states. These often freeze tuition rates and are marketed to parents of young children. Others save money in section 529 savings plans, a type of investment vehicle. Graduate students can research and apply for fellowships to help offset the costs of obtaining a masters or doctoral degree. Almost all colleges offer work-study programs for interested students. And, of course, there are always loan programs such as PLUS, Perkins, and Stafford. Each of these programs has different criteria, but additional information is readily accessible on the U.S. Department of Education's website and through the financial offices of most colleges and universities. Naturally, college financial aid scholarships and grants are preferable since they don't have to be repaid. But loans, when not too excessive, are considered to be a good investment in the student's future earning potential.

College Fundraising Ideas

College fundraising ideas are offered by a wide variety of companies on the Internet so that there is something to fit the needs of just about any group trying to raise funds for any purpose. So, whether it's a sorority or fraternity that needs to raise funds, or the cheerleaders, the band, or a special-interest group, there are college fundraiser ideas that lead to substantial funds being raised for the cause. One such idea gives the donor something in return without being a product he has bought. It combines a scratch off and coupons. The scratch off card has numbers ranging from $.50 to $3.00. The donor scratches off three numbers, gives the total to the cause, and receives a coupon in turn that is good for anything from cookies to a car lube job. The sponsors are all well-known companies whose products can be obtained in the area of the fundraiser.

The most recognizable college fundraising ideas involve selling something at a profit, and the best products are foods. Cookie dough, pizza-making kits, cheeses, etc. are appealing products that sell well. Other products can be sold that will provide a fifty percent profit for the group, too. Dances are a traditional means of raising money, although dancing doesn't seem to be as popular with young people today as they were a generation ago. The group searching for college fundraiser ideas would know its school well enough to know whether that would work on that particular campus.

When a group looking into college fundraising ideas decides to sell a product, there are several ways to do it. The first is direct sales, where an inventory of product is ordered, then sold by the group. Some companies providing the products require advance payment, while others will let the group pay when they have had their sale. It will be important for the group to determine ahead of time which system is used by the company they decide to buy from. Next, there is the order taker fundraiser, where a catalog or brochure is provided for buyers to look at and pick out an item to buy. Payment is made at the time of order so the group can pay for the items at their wholesale price and retain the profit for themselves. There is even online fundraising available for those who want to use it. Members of the group encourage fellow students to go to the special website and order merchandise, and the group will receive a portion of every sale. Still another kind of college fundraiser idea is the savings card. The group orders a certain number of cards with the names and logos of ten or twenty local businesses on them, good for discounts on the products or services they sell. These provide a good return for the group, and are good for the local business community as well.

Some groups are interested in helping charities while earning money for their group. A walk or run for a charity ranks high among choices of college fundraising ideas. Sometimes they take on a project like cleaning up the sports arena or gymnasium after events, in exchange for funds. This last one takes a commitment over time, though, and may not fit with members' prior time commitments. Caution is advised. Local businesses are generally willing to participate in raffles, so that should be considered by folks looking for college fundraiser ideas. Donated items keep the costs down, and every raffle ticket sold is an advertisement for all the businesses participating. Tickets can be sold at a reasonable price, and the profit is one hundred percent. What better way to follow God's commandment to love than by helping others? "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Everyone has stuff they'd like to get rid of, so yard sales rank high in college fundraiser ideas. One man's (or woman's) junk is another's treasure, you know, so give the event plenty of publicity, invite the entire school to participate, and pick a time and place. Anything left over can be donated to charity. Of course, any group planning an event to raise money for their project must check with the school administration before doing anything at all. There are rules and regulations, and papers to fill out. If the planning is done well in advance, and all the requirements met, a successful event will result.

Looking for college fundraising ideas can be fun, since there are so many out there, but it's important for the group to keep in mind the importance of good business practices in the process. Verify product and financial information before contracting with a company to purchase their product. If any problems arise during the delivery or with the quality of the product, notify the company immediately. They are as interested in maintaining their good reputation as the group is in raising money, so they should be given a chance to correct the problem to the satisfaction of the group or its representative. They want to be considered by the next group looking for college fundraiser ideas.

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