Free Money to the Rescue?
Is there Free Money in the world? Sure, but it’s not going to pay for an entire college education. However, free money CAN help. Here are a few tips to get you on the Free Money path and a few reminders for funding a college education.
It’s never too early to start
Start saving or start researching ways to save or grab some of those free bucks.
If you’re a parent or a grandparent of a young child, start now. Ask how your credit union’s services can help. Our staff knows our accounts inside and out, so you don’t have to study them. Tell us your goal and we’ll offer some options. It’ll be your choice of accounts with some time-saving guidance.
Work on your FAFSA early! If you’re not familiar with the FAFSA, it’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The site offers guidance on how your financial aid from different sources work together, caps or limits, applications for government student loans, and the infamous FAFSA form. The Federal Student Aid Application is free and assesses if you qualify for government financial aid.
If you’re a high school student (or grand/parent of), get busy. If you’re a senior this year, it’s not too late, but if you’re a junior, it’s NOT TOO EARLY! You can generally file Oct. 1 through June 30 of the calendar year before the student plans to attend college. Some states have different filing periods, check state deadlines on the student aid site. Your specific college or university might use FAFSA information for non-federal aid, so check with your school to see if they have additional deadlines. Many schools have FAFSA nights where families can attend and learn more about the federal student aid process, find one and go!
File your FAFSA early. Yes, it is worth repeating. And again, file early! Completion will only take about an hour if you have your information handy. If you like to use apps, you can apply on your mobile device with the myStudentAid app. Be sure to file annually, it will get easier each year. You’ll receive a Student Aid Report that details a summary of your information and your eligibility. Review and correct any errors. This is information your school may look at, so make sure it’s right!
Use available educational resources & tools
Here are a few of our favorites:
It’s a Money Thing – short, 3-minute videos on basic financial topics like student loans, saving & spending, budgeting, borrowing, and how to save on tuition.
We did promise information on Free Money. One of our absolute favorite online resources is the Scholarship Search Tool on the Department of Labor’s website.
The web tool searches over 8,000 scholarships, at your fingertips, 24/7, and organizes by deadline for application. The site lets you search by where you live, which schools the student wants to attend, educational interests, even if the parents are members of a labor union, plus many more options. Available scholarships range from $500, to over $35,000 for grad students. Application doesn’t guarantee a scholarship, but we’ve yet to know a student that used this site and then walked away with zero dollars. Lastly, these scholarships are not all based on academic performance, so a broader group of students are eligible. Scholarships do not need to be repaid, but they do count toward your allowed FAFSA federal financial aid amount.
More Free Money?
There are also local stashes of free money.These are not usually advertised heavily as the local groups have smaller amounts to give. Consider groups that you know, trust, work with, or do business with.Ask them if they offer scholarships or grants.
||Community Groups/ Foundations
YOUR CREDIT UNION!
Ok, we listed “your credit union”, so here are the details of Credit Union of America’s scholarship program. They’re short and sweet, please apply!
CUA John Michener Student Scholarships, named after our founder, who was both a teacher and a founding father of several other credit unions.
||Applications are only accepted online, at www.CUofAmerica.com/Scholarships
||It’s free and scholarships are $2,000! That’s $2,000 of free moolah x 10 students!
||March 31, 2019 11:59 p.m.
||Applications are accepted each year from around February 1 – the end of March, watch CUA’s website for future rounds of scholarships.
||Applications are reviewed blindly by a team of CUA staff and volunteers.
||Students receiving CUA scholarships will be notified and presented with scholarships before the end of the current school year at a dinner for students and their families.
As you visit the various sites listed, you may find additional tools and tips that become your favorite. Please comment and let us know what is helpful or if you have other tips to share.
Happy cash hunting!