Scholarship Advice You Need to Succeed

scholarships

Looking for scholarships can be stressful because you know that you’ll make your life a lot easier if you get one, but you don’t seem to be succeeding. The worst thing you could do is to start stressing out and give up too early, so we’ve prepared this short guide you can use to keep track of your progress so far.

First you need to ask yourself where your strengths lie, and which categories of scholarships you’ll need to pursue. If you don’t have outstanding academic achievements overall, focus on something you do best, even if it’s something unusual. Try to assess yourself realistically, it won’t do you any good to overestimate yourself, but if you underestimate yourself you’ll miss many opportunities for sure. Try to apply for different kinds to scholarships but don’t send out the same application for all of them.

Start with getting an appointment with the guidance counselor at your school. You might not think they can help you, but it’s their job to be well informed about scholarships and important matters that worry students. Tell them what school you hope to enroll in, what you want to study there, what you did so far to prepare yourself for the challenges that expect you, what your extracurricular activities were, did you volunteer somewhere and so on. Try not to leave out any valuable piece of information and to ask everything that interests you – bring a list if you have to. Of course, you must do a search based on these criteria on your own too, but the counselor might have some information not available to you. Visit teachers that are related to your future field of study and ask them for advice too. Often teachers have to select students they want to send to scholarship competitions and reminding them that you exist and that you have ambitions in their field might make them want to consider you. If you don’t reach out to anyone, they won’t know you need help and the useful information is less likely to reach you.

If you already have a good idea about the career you’d like to pursue, try getting in touch with as many people as possible from that field. If you’re currently working somewhere, make sure to check does your employer have a sponsorship program available, even if you don’t hope to continue working in that field.  Looking for scholarships directly at the potential employers’ is a good strategy for students interested in less popular and rare education profiles, because they are often not eligible for many other scholarships available to most students. Email their HR department or try to schedule a meeting trough someone you know who works there. It’s not wrong to ask for small favors in such serious matters.

Visit local non-profit organizations that you’ve worked with previously. If you’ve given to your community before, it’s not wrong to see can you get something back now. If you’re truly devoted to a cause that …

Where to Find Scholarships

Scholarships

If you’ve just started looking for appropriate scholarship that will help you pay for (at least a part of) your educational expenses, you might feel overwhelmed. It seems you’re under qualified for everything that catches your eye, maybe the amount offered is not enough or the application process seems impossible to complete. Take a deep breath, calm down, grab your planer, and read a few ideas we have that can simplify your search.

Get an Appointment with your Guidance Counselor

Like the name guidance counselor itself suggests, their job is to talk with ambitious candidates and guide them in the right direction. Tell them about yourself, mention all your strengths, your career ideas and any talents you might have. They usually already know about a lot of offers for scholarships and, having previously worked with many applicants, can help you choose a few where you have a good chance of getting selected. Don’t hesitate to approach your teachers too, especially the ones you’ve cooperated successfully before. If a teacher was satisfied with a project you did together earlier, they can write you a recommendation or offer some interesting ideas. Everyone likes students who think about their future and actively pursue their goals.

Visit Local Businesses and Organizations

If you want to become a chemical engineer and your town has companies that you can imagine yourself working for, try to talk with someone from their human resources team. Many companies are involved in different programs that benefit the community. They might want to find local talents and assist them financially while they pursue their education. It might be expected that you work for them for a certain time period after you graduate, so keep that in mind. However, getting a scholarship and a future job opportunity at the same time seems like an excellent deal. If you have family members or friends that work in the area that interests you ask them to inquire do their employers offer that kind of help to prospective young people in their community. They can also help you get an appointment with HR easier.

If you’ve done some charity work or worked with local non-profit organizations, now it’s time to ask for their help. They are more likely to help a candidate that has proven to be diligent, honest, hardworking and driven. Even if they don’t offer scholarships themselves, they might have partner organizations that provide financial aid for students and they can write you a favorable recommendation letter.

Try to Fully Customize your Search

If you have a certain religious, racial, economical or ethnical background you might be eligible for some scholarships that help students of your group. There’s nothing wrong with using all the opportunities offered to you. Get in touch with some older students in similar situation that have managed to acquire scholarships and ask for their advice. Try to be sociable and pleasant, there’s a chance someone will remember you once they hear for some interesting opportunities, so the scholarship …

Student Loan Options with Bad Credit

student loans

Bad credit score is a sad reality for many families and it causes a lot of stress and worry for students who aspire to go to college and their parents. The costs of pursuing higher education are huge, and the majority of students need to rely on loans to finance themselves.  If a family is already in debts due to mortgage, expenses for car or credit cards, their credits scores will reflect that and it might seem impossible to send their kid to college. Don’t give up just yet, until you’ve considered all your options.

Look for Scholarships

It’s a common myth that scholarships are reserved solely for students with 4.0 GPA or the ones who have outstanding sports talents. Make sure you’ve investigated all your options completely. There are scholarships for students who wear glasses, are left-handed, speak Klingon or excel at bowling, to state just a few of the unusual ones. You’ll need to devote some time and thoroughly research; you might find something designed for a unique, but average student, like yourself.

Using Federal Financial Aid

Federal financial aid is usually not determined based on your credit score; it is primarily awarded based on need. You should use all options available to you trough Department of Education. First you’ll need to fill out The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Make sure it’s filled out completely and correctly, with all relevant and up to date information. These loans can be awarded to applicant with credit scores that are way less than stellar:

  • Stafford – subsidized or unsubsidized
  • Perkins
  • GradPLUS
  • ParentPLUS

Completing your FAFSA application is free and it doesn’t require much of your time, and after that you’ll know which of these loans might be available to you. You should first choose subsidized loans if they’re available because you won’t have to pay off interests while you’re in school and up to six months after your graduation, the government will take care of that. Of course, after that period you’ll be responsible for all payments. They are granted based on your need, so make sure to correctly present the financial situation of the entire family in your FAFSA. Interest rates are less favorable on unsubsidized loans, but they are fixed, so you’ll always know how much you exactly owe and how much money needs to be repaid. PLUS loans require a cosigner with better credit so you should use them only as additional financial aid, when other options are exhausted. In general, any federal financial aid should be your first pick, rather than private loans, because you can be eligible for certain exemptions and reductions, if you experience serious financial hardships or if you make your payments diligently.

Ask for Personal Help

This might work based on your unique situation and your relationships with people who are in a more stable financial situation than you. Of course, absolute honesty is necessary. Have a long conversation with anyone who’s willing to help and make realistic promises. You …

Financial Aid Checklist

Student Loans

You’re probably already well aware of numerous and diverse expenses that will be associated with getting a higher education. You must try to prepare for some of them trough looking for appropriate financial aid. Financial aid is available for many students; you just need to find out what you’re eligible for. We understand your time and energy are not unlimited, so we’ve prepared a guide for you to follow, to not lose track of your progress.

Scholarships and Grants

We can’t state enough how amazing scholarships and grants are! You need to let go of the myth that they are unavailable to most students and just focus on finding the right ones for you. Sending less well thought applications on carefully researched scholarships is better than sending a generic application everywhere, but try to cover as many different areas of interest as possible. Look for scholarships that value more than just academic achievements and try to apply for scholarships that match your general interests in life. If you have a dream, a passion or a cause you truly care for, try to find like-minded people or organizations, you might be shocked to discover they offer some kind of financial aid. Don’t be afraid of the essay requirement, even if writing is not your strongest skill, because those scholarships usually have a lot less applicants. Getting any scholarship, no matter how small amount it might be, is the easiest option for you financially, even if applying for them seems boring and tedious.

Federal Work-Study

This is another good option, because you won’t be in debt after you use federal-work study program. If you’re determined to be eligible after completing your FAFSA application, based on your financial situation, you’ll be able to get part-time jobs with certain employers who participate in the program. This is different than most other part time jobs, because the money you earn this way will not be considered as additional income when you fill out your FAFSA next year. You will have to work to earn your money, but the work schedule will be made to work around your class schedule, because education comes first. You’re responsible for your behavior on the job and for transferring the money you earn into appropriate educational expenses. You’ll be getting a paycheck once a week, so you need to plan how to manage your money yourself.

Federal Student Loans

There’s a variety of different student loans available, but filling out the FAFSA is the first step towards determining which of them can be given to you. In general, the most desirable are Stafford loans, subsidized or unsubsidized. You’ll be eligible for subsidized, that come with lower interest rates, if you demonstrate financial hardships. However, if you’re not eligible for subsidized loans, unsubsidized are still a useful option, because their fixed interest rates allow you to plan ahead realistically and not get nasty surprises during the life of your loan. PLUS loans can be taken with a cosigner, which …

Income-Driven Repayment Plan Guide

Income-Based Repayment

If you’re unable to make timely payments for your federal loans, the plan that you’ve started with might have to change. You can renegotiate your loan terms and sign up to one of the income-driven repayment plans available. Keep making all your payments on time until you make your decision and complete the necessary paperwork. There are several different repayment plans currently available, so we’ve listed them here. We hope you’ll find the one that works best for you.

Income-Based Repayment Plan

Income-Based Repayment Plan is available to borrowers who experience and document financial hardships. Your new monthly payment would be 10% or 15% of your income after taxes and basic living expenses, which depends on the on the time when you took your loans. Your repayment period would be extended to 20 or 25 years. Using this plan you’ll have to pay more in interest over the years, but you’ll be able to manage your monthly payments easier. The amount of money you’ll have to pay on a monthly basis is connected to your income, but it can never exceed the amount you’re currently paying with the Standard 10-year plan. You will be eligible for forgiveness after 20/25 years of regular payments, but you’ll need to pay the taxes for all debt forgiven.

Pay As Your Earn Plan

Pay As You Earn plan was introduced in 2012. It’s a bit more difficult to qualify for the PAYE. It’s available to people who have taken out a loan on or after October 1, 2007 and received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011. Repayment period will be prolonged to 20 years and you would pay a monthly amount calculated as 10% of your income but that amount could never exceed the amount you were paying under the Standard 10-year plan. If you file taxes together with your spouse their student loan debt and income will be used to calculate your loan payment. You are also a candidate for forgiveness after 20 years of regular payments. IBR and PAYE are two of the most used repayment plans.

Revised Pay As Your Earn (REPAYE) Plan

Revised Pay As You Earn, or REPAYE program is the newest repayment program from 2015. More people are eligible for this program. It’s not required that you experience financial hardship. Once again, you lower your monthly payments to 10% of your discretionary income and the repayment period is extended to 20 for undergraduate loans and 25 years for graduate and professional student loans. This program offers forgiveness of 50% of interest on subsidized loans after three years of regular payments. Spouse’s income and the amount of their student loan debt is included in monthly payment unless proof of separation is submitted.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan

You are eligible for this repayment plan if you have taken Federal Direct Loans. However, this is the only repayment plan that includes Parent PLUS loans. This program is based on current monthly income and family size …