Winning Ways To Get College Scholarships & Grants


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4 Little-Known Secrets About Financial Aid That Colleges Hope You Never Discover!

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College scholarships come in many award sizes and in hundreds of different categories, but very few will pay the full cost of a four-year college education.

Here are some helpful tips on how to get the best college scholarships and grants available:

  • Stay away from those "College Scholarship Search" services, as they're usually a waste of money and time. These are companies that typically charge fees ranging from $50 - $200 or more, but do little, if anything, to help students and their families obtain quality grants and scholarships.

The reality is that most information about obtaining college scholarships and grants is available for free. A trip to your public library, or surfing internet websites like can unveil a number of funding sources you're qualified to receive.

  • Apply at schools where there is an abundance of college scholarships and grants. This is one of the best strategies you can employ.

The reality is that all schools are not equal in their ability to offer gift-aid. Consult with sources like the Peterson's Guide to find out which colleges tend to grant a larger portion of aid in the form of gift-aid (college scholarships, grants, tuition discounts, fee waivers, etc.), rather than self-help aid (loans and work study). For example, Stanford fills 85% of a students Financial Need with free money, while Montana State University in Billings fills only 52% with gift aid, according to the latest available reported figures.

  • Apply early! Gift aid is obviously the most favorable type of financial aid and includes college scholarships, grants, tuition discounts, fee waivers, and all other types of aid that does not have to be repaid. They tend to go fast and a lot of it is given on a first-come, first-served basis. This is why it's so important to file early which usually means as soon after January 1st as possible.
  • Check what type of college scholarships and grants are available from your state. There are many state-administered programs that offer prestigious and/or attractive awards. For example, there's the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship, which pays $1,500 a year to certain high school graduates, and the Cal Grant Program in California, which awards up to $9,700 per year to cover the cost of an education.

Similarly, most states have special education programs for the disabled, and there are programs through the federal government related to the military.

  • If you're a top student, select colleges that prize academic excellence. Understand that many schools do not offer aid packages to cover all of a student's recognized financial need. This difference between a student's financial need and the school's award is called the "gap". For some schools this "gap" is narrowed if the student has achieved high academic or other types of honors.

The National Association of College Admissions Counselors reports that 23% of all colleges close the "gap" based on the academic desirability of a student. Some schools, such as Bard College in New York, accept any student who ranks in the top 10% of his or her public high school at the tuition rate of the student's state university. That can be a huge decrease from Bard's typical $27,000 price tag.

Colleges also offer specific scholarships for special achievements and general excellence.

Approximately 20% of these types of grants come from a schools own institutional money. For example, Boston University awards a college scholarship that pays nearly $20,000 of its $27,000 yearly tuition cost, as does Ohio University. Both are based on scholastic excellence. Scholarships for music, art and athletics are also available and are clearly defined.


The reality is you will not rely on any one form of financial aid. You will probably get a combination of college loans, grants, private money, work study, and scholarships. Staying on top of all the help that is available is your best approach.

For a simple, step-by-step approach to getting all the "free money" college grants and scholarships possible, a recommended resource is "The No B.S. Guide To Getting Maximum College Financial Aid". Details can be found at


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