One of the biggest concerns for student-athletes dealing with the college application process is incurring the high costs of secondary education. The financial aid process can very confusing for both students and parents alike. The jigsaw puzzle of grants, loans, and scholarships students rely on can be very difficult to understand. However, with some hard work and some research you can figure out what programs and athletic scholarships best fit you and your financial and educational needs. Here are the major steps you should be taking to make sure you can meet these requirements.
Research, Research, Research
Getting free financial aid will require some groundwork on your part. You will have to research a variety of scholarships and grants available to you. Two great onlines resources for finding scholarships and grants are Zinch and Fastweb. If you can’t find any options on online resources, start seeking out scholarships offered by the schools you are considering. by calling their financial aid offices. Make sure to note the requirements for scholarships or grants you apply to. These requirements can involve maintaining a certain GPA, having a certain major, or being part of certain organizations. Scholarships and grants essentially provide free tuition money that does not have to be paid back. Make sure you put in the time to research your financial options!
Complete the FAFSA
Every student who needs financial aid and plans to attend a college or university should apply for the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who meet need requirements, which is typically based on parent income, will automatically qualify for free government aid such as the Pell Grant. Schools also rely on the FAFSA to estimate how much financial aid they can offer students, which can come in the form of grants or loans. Although not all students will qualify for free aid, completing the FAFSA is typically a good choice as federal loans are also available after the completion of the FAFSA.Completing the FAFSA can be a lengthy process so have a parent on hand along with both your parents tax information. After you have completed the form double check to make sure your application is error free. It is best to file the FAFSA around January of your senior year of high school. Keep in mind you will have to do FAFSA each year you are in school and it is always best to do it as early as possible before the March deadline.
If You Qualify, Apply!
Use the information you’ve learned about various grants, programs, and scholarships available to you and start applying. Scholarship applications can vary in their requirements which can range from essays, questionnaires, to even videos. Writing is generally a large part of many scholarships applications so making sure your writing is up to par will leave a good impression on readers. If you qualify for scholarships, especially ones you’ve found locally, spend your time completing as many as possible. They may be time consuming but scholarships provide excellent value for the amount of work you put in. Attention to detail is very important during this process. So make sure you are staying organized and aware of deadlines and requirements for your applications. Make sure all application forms are filled out completely and error free. Keep a running tally of what scholarships you have accepted, what you have received, and which ones you plan to apply to later. By staying organized and applying to as many scholarships you qualify for as possible, you will greatly increase the chances of receiving financial aid.
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