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Apply for admission and financial aid early in your senior year.
Submit a “FAFSA,” the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Submit it as early as January when your family receives the necessary income statements.
Ask your high school counselor about scholarship and grant information received by the school. Apply to the ones for which you qualify.
Check with the financial aid office at the college you want to attend. Find out what assistance is available through the college and find out what forms are required.
Surf the Web for more information (see our list of websites).
Apply for scholarships and grants.
Ask about Work Study programs.
Consider Parent PLUS loans.
Keep track of deadlines and contacts. Be organized! Think of the financial aid search as a part-time job.
Would you like to have an idea what college will cost you? Check out the free financial aid need estimator at ACT’s website: www.act.org/fane. This calculator will estimate what your family will be expected to contribute toward the cost of college. And you can determine the costs at more than 32,000 U.S. colleges and universities. You’ll get your official answer from the federal government later, but this will give you a good idea of what to expect since it uses the same financial aid formula used in calculating official results.
Beware of scholarship scams
The Federal Trade Commission offers the following signs of a scholarship scam: 1. "The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back." 2. "You can't get this information anywhere else." 3. "May I have your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship?" 4. "We'll do all the work." 5. "The scholarship will cost you some money." 6. "You've been selected" by a national foundation to receive a scholarship," or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.