Sure, there’s all sorts of fun to be had over the Christmas holidays. It’s a time to be together with family and friends, share gifts, volunteer and show that family values still mean a whole lot more than the material existence that many make life out to be. If you’re a high school student that is graduating in 2012, there is also the joy that comes with researching and applying for college scholarships – and what better time to tackle this important task than when you are home for the holidays?
First Things First: Get that FAFSA Done!
The most important first step in all things student financial aid related is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, which is the single form that the federal government and most colleges and universities use to determine the level of financial need that each student has. Completing the FAFSA opens up a world of additional student financial aid in the form of Pell grants, subsidized student loans, and college scholarships from the various schools that you might apply to. The FAFSA takes about an hour and asks a ton of questions, so be sure that you have some time set aside to complete it and have a parent handy to answer any income-related questions.
Next: Research Your Potential Schools
While you might have a single college or university in mind that you want to attend, it’s important to spread around your interest when judging where you can afford to attend. Those with their education completely paid for can choose whatever school they wish; those on a budget or hoping to get the most out of their student financial aid will need to think a little more critically about where they want to attend. And, of course, those who are heading to university on full ride athletic scholarships already know where they will be attending, so that’s not much of a concern.
Finally: Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines!
Half of getting college scholarships is completing the necessary requirements before the scholarship’s deadline. While it might seem like completing a form and clicking the “submit” button is an easy task, millions of students miss out on guaranteed student financial aid funds each year because they didn’t complete the necessary paperwork prior to a deadline. Everyone gets busy – especially over the holidays – but before you pick up that PS3 controller, sit down and get these applications done. It won’t take too long and it could mean tens of thousands of dollars in virtually free cash.
There you have it – three easy steps in the quest to get through school without generating a mountain of student loans that will need to be paid back later. With just a few hours of time invested, a whole host of different education grants, college scholarships and other forms of student financial aid are just waiting to be collected. Good luck and happy holidays!