Attending college is an admirable goal, but many students fear being unable to afford their dream schools. At Educational Attainment Services (ESA,) we believe in empowering students to obtain the monetary support they need in order to attend their ideal institutions.
Consider this your unofficial guide to scholarships and financial aid. Here are some of the most common questions that we’re asked at Educational Attainment Services.
What’s The Difference Between Scholarships & Financial Aid?
Scholarships and financial aid achieve the same result—funding your journey into higher education—but that doesn’t make them the same thing.
Put simply, financial aid is a loan. If you receive $10,000 in financial aid from your educational institution, you will owe $10,000 back over time after receiving your degree. Scholarships and/or grants, on the other hand, are functionally free. They’re a no-strings-attached investment in your future.
Clearly, scholarships are more beneficial in the long run than financial aid, but combining the two effectively is often essential for affording higher education.
How Do I Obtain A Scholarship?
There are many ways to obtain a scholarship, but here’s a short introduction to some of our favorites.
- Look at your hobbies. You might be surprised to learn that many pursuits have scholarships connected to them, even if your interests aren’t explicitly academic or athletic. What hobbies have you committed your time to? Believe it or not, there are scholarships for martial arts experts, video game enthusiasts, animal shelter volunteers, and more. If you have even the faintest inkling of an idea that one of your interests might lead to a scholarship, do your due diligence and find out!
- Speak to your school counselor. It’s in your school counselor’s job description to help you achieve your academic goals. That includes attending the college of your choice. Most likely, your school counselor has a general idea of your interests, talents, and dream schools. They’re an excellent resource for determining a plan of action when it comes to scholarships.
- Consider scholarships for minority students. If you’re in a minority group due to your race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or otherwise, there are probably scholarships exclusively dedicated to helping people like you attend college.
- Connect with religious or community organizations. Are you a member of a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious organization? Have you participated in community service over a sustained period of time? These kinds of connections can open up unique scholarship opportunities.
How Do I Obtain Financial Aid?
According to CNBC, “Every year, the U.S. Department of Education gives over $120 billion in federal grants, loans and work-study funds to more than 13 million college students, making it the largest provider of student financial aid in the country.”
In order to receive federal financial aid, you have to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This can be done online for free at the FAFSA website.
Alternatively, when applying for financial aid through a specific educational institution, “The CSS Profile, administered by The College Board, is used by hundreds of schools across the country and can help students access their share of $9 billion in non-federal financial aid.” To complete a CSS Profile, you need to submit your family’s W2 tax returns. This determines how much money you currently have, which is used to estimate how much financial help you need.
How Can Educational Attainment Services help?
To learn more about your scholarship and/or financial aid options, contact Educational Attainment Services today. We also provide tutoring, college essay-writing assistance, and more to dedicated students with big dreams.