I’m a big fan of taking advantage of financial aid opportunities from every available avenue. I’ve talked a bunch about federal financial aid and private scholarships, but there is yet another place to turn to for scholarships and grants: your college!
While each college’s practices on if/how they award institutional grants and scholarships differs, there are some basic steps that you can follow to find out what opportunities exist for you. Here are some things that you should do in order to apply for institutional scholarships and grants.
Complete The FAFSA
Your school uses the information that you provided on the FAFSA and other forms to determine how much money you’ll need to attend that institution. To be eligible to receive the most financial aid from your institution, you must complete the FAFSA or another financial aid form (like the CSS PROFILE) approved by your institution. There are a few exceptions to this rule including: (A) if you are applying for merit-only financial aid and (B) if you are applying for an institutional scholarship that does not require your financial aid report.
Check Your School’s Website
Sometimes, you may have to do some extra research uncover scholarship and grant opportunities at your school. Additionally, many institutional grants and/or scholarships require that you complete a separate application from the FAFSA to even be considered.
To hunt down these opportunities, the first place you’ll want to look is on the financial aid website of your institution. Here, you may find links to resources for private scholarship (which you should definitely take advantage of), but you may also find information about other financial programs that your school offers. If you can’t find anything on the financial aid website of your school, you can always follow the next step…
Call The Financial Aid Office
Let’s face it: navigating financial aid forms can be the worst. (This is my personal pet peeve … why can’t critical information like this be better organized?) When all else fails, you can always kick it old school, pick up the phone, and call the financial aid office of your institution directly to ask about scholarship and grant opportunities.
Frankly, I would probably take this route first because it has the highest success rate. Simply call the office, ask to speak with a financial aid counselor, and request information on scholarships and grants that the school offers to their students.
Want to learn more institutional financial aid? Check out our short video on institutional scholarships and grants.
(Photo: 401(K) 2013)