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Additional Ways to Save Money for College

College is expensive. Are there other opportunities for financial aid other than what the Financial Aid Office gives me that will not hurt my chances of attending? Where do I look? Are there other ways to save money? This post provides you with information, resources, and hacks to help you save more and spend less while you are in school.

Say you’ve already completed the FAFSA and received your financial aid notification that contains your award information. You may be committed to attending a specific school, or you might be deciding between a couple of schools. At any rate, what the Financial Aid Office has offered you is not the last stop for what you could receive. The rest is on you to be proactive for other funding sources, so you have a little work to do if you want to see more money come your way. Scholarships and jobs are great places to start. Keep reading to find out where to look and what to do.

The Financial Aid Office

Your college Financial Aid Office is generally a good place to start and is often a source that is overlooked. Many offices offer a physical board or webpage dedicated to outside scholarships. This may also include the local college foundation, which may offer a variety of scholarships for students meeting certain criteria.

Search Engines

When you hear the phrase “search engine,” you may typically think of sites such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, or your other favorite. While you can certainly use those for scholarship searches, they might yield some sketchy results mixed in with the legitimate ones. Your best bet is to use a targeted scholarship search area, where sources have been vetted and the application process is safe.

Scholarship Search Engines

Here is a short list of reputable college scholarship search engines that are free to use and provide a vast array of sources to help you find funding for college.

FinAid.org is arguably one of the more useful spaces for financial aid information on the market. Their approach is thorough and informative.

FastWeb is another very well-known source, providing a national scholarship database that is designed to “simplify the scholarship search by heling students find millions of scholarships, grants, internships, and financial aid opportunities.”

Scholarship America is the nation’s largest nonprofit, private scholarship organization available. The search is easy, with filters by state and availability.

CollegeScholarships.org is a search engine that claims to offer a “broad array of funding opportunities without asking for information from you.” This site also offers other sources of financial aid information to current and prospective students.

Why Don’t You Get a Job?

While not a scholarship, circling back to your Financial Aid Office for a job is another good bet. The college participates in the Federal Work-Study program, which allows you to earn real wages by working on or off campus. Other schools offer student employment, or jobs on campus that are paid by the college instead of a federal source. These jobs provide flexible hours that are targeted to maximize your time around your class schedule. They may also provide you with the skills to land a future job, or even a full-time position at your school in the future!

If neither of these are options, you could also search for jobs that are close to your campus. Local restaurants, for example, are a great place for part-time hours for college students.

Ask Your Professors

Talking to your professors is another great untapped resource, especially as you progress in your college career. These individuals may be close to a particular profession or may be performing their own research to which you could lend a hand. This could be a great resume builder if you are considered as an author in the publication due to your contribution.

Textbook Hacks

If you plan on getting your textbooks from your college bookstore, there’s a great chance they sell at a markup. On the plus side, you may be able to use your financial aid to purchase them through your college bookstore. On the other hand, you can find them cheaper elsewhere. Colleges are required to provide you with the book’s ISBN number, which should give you a leg up in searching to purchase them cheaper elsewhere.

Did you know you can also rent your textbooks? This service is something that might be available at your college through their bookstore, but there are also other websites that provide textbook rentals to students.

If you have roommates that are in the same courses as you, consider splitting the cost of the books you need.

Check out your college’s library to see if they retain a copy or two of the textbooks you need. Make photocopies or digital copies.

Open Educational Resources are also an up-and-coming source of course information, where the cost of the materials is either very low or non-existent due to their digital format. Check with your professors or college bookstore about this offering.

These are all areas that require you as a student to take the initiative and advocate for yourself when locating additional sources of financial aid. Remember, private scholarships can be sent to whichever school you plan on attending since they are not provided by the school itself. This gives you some flexibility and another tool to use when weighing whatever financial aid offers you have received from colleges. Jobs are available at whichever college you might attend, but not without putting in the work to find them. Same goes for textbooks. As always, if you have questions, always ask your Financial Aid Office!

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