Where to look for scholarships and financial aid

One of my daughters was offered over $100,000 in scholarship to fund her college education. This was a mixture of federal grant money, scholarships that were based on need and academics, a music scholarship from her high school and from the individual colleges themselves.

Ultimately, my daughter chose to attend a tuition free college. The scholarship award amounted to an estimated $85,000. The college provided her with a solid undergraduate education. Even though this particular college did not offer anything beyond a bachelor degree, the faculty encouraged her to attend graduate school.

She has now completed her second year of graduate level studies. It's a little harder to find scholarships for graduate level than for an undergraduate education. We're finding that some money is out there but it takes extra effort to find it. 

Financial aid departments will be the first to tell you not to pay for grant or scholarship search services. These are often a waste of money. The National Online Database of Scholarships and Education Grants may be a helpful place to begin the search. There is no cost to access the database and registration is not required.

It takes time for employers to get the annual tax documents to you so you can fill out the FASFA forms. Beginning your search for scholarship monies can begin before the FASFA is completed. Doing your homework enables you to file for funding as soon as possible.

In addition to searching the database check with your employer, religious denomination and the financial aid department of the school you want to attend. These sources can help you find available funding to secure your future. It may take several attempts to secure the funding that you need. Don't give up in the search. Always remember that your future is worth the effort.