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Financial Aid and Scholarships for College

Hola chicas!

For many seniors in high school, the college application process has already started. And from experience, I know it can be a bit overwhelming.

Thus, I have decided to write a post today dedicated to the financial aid and scholarship application process.

 

Scholarships are a form of financial aid that can help you pay for college. In most cases, scholarships provide you with money to pay part of your tuition fees. However, there are some scholarships that can help you with purchasing books so make sure you keep an eye out for those too.

Before I begin, I want to remind everyone about how important it is that you also fill out your FAFSA application online (Available online October 1). Most colleges will ask you to fill out the FAFSA application by a certain deadline so please make sure you are keeping track of those important dates.

FAFSA is an application that asks you to fill out some information so your college can create the best financial aid packet possible. The sooner you fill it out, the better chance you have of receiving a great packet!

Visit FAFSA.ed.gov for more information. Also, be aware that some colleges ask for FAFSA and other documents, like a CSS Profile and IDOC. In order to ensure that you don't miss any deadlines or forget to submit certain documents, please visit the websites of ALL the colleges you are applying to. Do not assume that they all want the same thing, because you might turn in something that is unnecessary or fail to turn in something on time, and you will only hurt your chances of receiving financial aid.

What was helpful for me when I was applying to colleges was that I typed up a list of all the colleges I wanted to apply to. Then, next to each college I wrote down the application deadline, the financial aid deadline, and what documents they needed specifically for my financial aid packet.

 

For example, for my alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross, I noted the following from the college’s website

College of the Holy Cross: Application deadline- January 15 Financial aid deadline- February 1 Financial aid documents I need to submit by February 1- FAFSA, CSS Profile, and IDOC document  

 

Then, as I was completing my application, I would go back to my check list and make sure that I was completing every required document on time. I made this list for every single college I applied to and it really did help reduce my anxiety about the application process.

Note: If you are asked to mail something through the post office to your college’s financial aid office, please do not wait until the day of the deadline to mail it over. Instead, go to the post office at least a week in advance and mail it ASAP so that your college can receive it on time.

If you have any specific question about financial aid, do not hesitate to call the college’s financial aid office. When you call, introduce yourself, state that you are applying for the upcoming semester as a new student and that you have a question about the financial aid process. Then, proceed to ask your specific question and take notes so you can refer to them later when you fill out your application. Don’t be nervous about asking questions, the financial aid office is there to help!



Now, let’s talk about scholarships.

 

There are thousands of scholarships out there, it just takes plenty of research to find them.

Here are some tips that may be helpful in your scholarship process.

1. Think about what type of scholarships you might be eligible for

 

For instance, if you are a person of Hispanic descent, then you are able to apply for the Hispanic Federation Fund Scholarship https://hsf.net/en/scholarships/programs/general-college-scholarships



There are hundreds of other scholarships that are catered to a specific identity, talent, hobby, sport, or trait. Honestly, think about anything you think there might be a scholarship for and research it.

 

2. Don’t limit yourself

 

You might be hesitant to apply to scholarships for a variety of reasons, but it really does not hurt to try. You would be surprised at how many opportunities there are out there. You just need to be patient and ask questions!

 

If you need help getting started with your scholarship search, try going on https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship-search

 

This website is designed to help you find scholarships that are specific to your interests and identities.

 

Also, you can go on a college’s website and look up scholarship opportunities there! Sometimes colleges have scholarships that are only for students who plan to attend the school, so it is a good idea to call the financial aid office or research on the website for more information.

 

3. Make sure you start early

 

Many scholarship applications have early deadlines. It is important that you keep track of the dates and required documents that each scholarship requires.

 

Also, if an application (whether it’s for a college or scholarship) requires recommendation letters make sure you ask your teachers early in the school year. You want to provide your teachers with enough time to complete the letter and you also want to give them all the information they will need to write a great one.

For example, you may want to print out your resume, a writing assignment (one you did well on) from their class, and all the details of where to submit the recommendation letter. Keep in mind that there are many other students asking for the same favor, so please be polite and give your teacher enough notice so they can dedicate the proper time to your letter.

 

4. Ask, ask, and then ask again

 

I know I’ve said this a million times already, but I really can’t stress it enough. It is crucial that you ask questions and do your research. If you need help, ask your guidance or college counselor, ask a teacher, or look it up online. There are hundreds of pages online dedicated to informing students about financial aid and scholarships. You really don’t lose anything with asking questions, and if a person doesn’t know the answer I am sure they can refer you to someone who does.

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I know the college application process can be a little overwhelming, but there are people out there who want to help so take advantage of those resources.

 

If you all have any more specific questions, please leave a comment down below and I will try my best to answer it.

 

Don't forget to make yourself proud!

 

Si se puede,


J.L.

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Comment by Jazmin Lopez on September 8, 2016 at 11:44am

No problem! Thank you for asking about this topic. 

Good luck! 

Comment by Taylor Figueroa on September 8, 2016 at 10:31am

Thank you for writing this  article. I'm sure it will be helpful.


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