Financial Aid Advice
In our current economy, finding enough money to pay yourself into college can be a little difficult. If you have this problem, you have two choices:
1. Apply for student loan.
2. Apply for financial aid
I don't have much experience with student loans because I have never applied for one, but I did have two scholarships from my university that helped me tremendously in my first two years. If you are currently trying to apply for a scholarship, this is what you need to do:
Apply early I am pretty sure you have heard this time and time before, either in school or on this forum, but it is one of the most essential things to do. Rule of thumb, apply a semester before you graduate if you can. If they allow you to apply a year before graduation, do it. It is a first-come, first-serve basis. There are people before you who want that scholarship. It depends on how much you want it.
Apply for multiple scholarships I have heard people say, "I want to go to [some university] so I will only apply for the scholarships that university offers." Bad idea. At this point, you do not have any say whether the university your picking will award you with a scholarship or not. As long as you qualify, your best bet is to go nuts and apply anywhere and everywhere. It's statistics baby! The more scholarships you apply for, the higher your chances of getting one.
Stick to the requirements This particular point extends to those who already have scholarships lined up and waiting. Scholarships might be the safest way of gaining financial aid, but it DOES NOT COME FREE. There are rules and guidelines you must follow to get it, as there are rules and guidelines for maintaining it (if your scholarship says you have to flip burgers in the school restaurant, get the apron!). Stick to them. If you have problems doing that, keep a checklist and every so often during the semester, tick off what you have accomplished so far and what you need to accomplish and when you need to accomplish them.
Now for those of you who have a scholarship and are getting ready to begin or have begun your freshman year, here is a little bit of wisdom I would like to impart on to you:
Keep up the grades This sort of fits under "stick to the requirements" but I feel I must reiterate this. Many scholarships, if not all, have a certain grade point average (GPA) you must be able to maintain. If you don't maintain the GPA requirement, you're out! Don't pass GO, don't collect $200. You might get lucky and get one more chance to prop your grades up and keep the scholarship, but why get to that point. My advice: monitor your grades at all times and create a marker to where you don't want your grades to drop to. If you hit that marker, sit on yourself to raise it (and please don't put your marker on the grade your scholarship requires. Aim higher). If you can, as I am sure he can, get the highest grades you can in your Freshman and Sophomore year, because the last two years will be killer! Those are the years you will really dive into your profession.