Finding Loans, Grants, and Scholarships:
What do you have to help with finding loans, grants, and scholarships?
By: Nathan Cornett
Funding loans is easy, anyone with a pulse can get a loan by simply filling out the FAFSA and indicating that you are interested in the FFELP program; from that point the college/university you apply to (by putting their school code on the FAFSA) will direct you to a list of lenders. Our school uses Elm Select (https://www.elmselect.com/oll/SchoolLenderList/?schoolId=8129) but every school has their own way to direct students to the lenders.
As far as Grants go, there are 2 applications students need to be particularly aware of, the FAFSA is still key note for the Federal Pell Grant; the goal in the FAFSA is to have the lowest possible EFC (expected family contribution); this is a number, not necessarily a $$ amount, but more of a code the DOE/school uses to determine your family “need”, thus determining how much aid to give each student.
The second application students need to be aware of as far as grants go is the CSS (College Scholarship Service) financial profile. In contrast to the FREE application for federal student aid (FAFSA), the CSS costs money. $9 for the registration fee, and $16 for EACH college you want the CSS submitted to. Also in contrast to the FAFSA, the CSS has personalized questions that differ according to the student, it is a customized profile. The FAFSA has standardized questions that are the same for everyone. The CSS is used to award NON-Federal funds (private loans, school funded grants, and other grant programs). This application would be especially helpful for students going to very expensive private schools that have excellent scholarship programs, and/or state schools in which you know of scholarship programs that you may qualify for; the CSS will help you get you foot in the door.
There are several web-based scholarship searches that students should also be aware of, I will list just two:
-www.collegedata.com (simply click on the link for “scholarship finder”)
In both cases, think “personal”, think “criterion”, think “mass”. You will want to craft a very personal (not mushy) essay about your personal achievements (that differ from your admission applications and CSS profile) and you will want to send that essay out to as many potential scholarships as you possibly can. The key is to connect on an emotional level with the people reading these thousands of essays. Yes point out that you have a 3.8 GPA and that you are on ASB or president of the “Save Africa” club, but you will want to convey the PASSION for which you live; the reason why you deserve a scholarship over the next average Joe.
In all cases, it helps to have someone there to coach you through each step, and to understand the terms and concepts that are going to thrown at you at 100mph by your school advisers, of the loan/grant/scholarship administrators. When in doubt, ask questions.