How to Get Free Financial Aid For College

The average student debt of the Class of 2013 was $27,670. Many press outlets such as the New York Times and the US News & World Report have reported that many students in this country owe a lot more. It is no wonder that many college-bound high school students are gun shy about borrowing money for their post-secondary education.

This article will outline all of the options for financing your college education that you have at your disposal. From scholarships to school aid to federal loans to loans from private institutions, a student should ideally use a couple of ways to fund their college studies. Read on to learn how you can do just that.


Scholarships are money for your college studies that don't have to be repaid. You can find scholarships from some of the following sources:

  • The schools to which you're applying
  • You or your parent's employer
  • Local organizations
  • National corporations
  • Social organizations in your community (church, Boy or Girl Scouts, Knights of Columbus, etc)
  • Your high school

Tips For Finding Scholarships

1. Look for Scholarships in Trusted Sources

There are many duplicitous scholarship websites and databases that claim to give you access to billions of dollars in scholarships for a fee. Don't ever sign up for these services. There are plenty of ways to get information about these scholarships for free. Some of your best free options for your scholarship search including FastWeb (a website), and books such as "The Ultimate Scholarship Book" by Gen and Kelly Tanabe and the "Scholarship Handbook" from The College Board.

2. Ask Other People To Help You Look For Scholarships

Enlist the help of your friends, family and teachers to help you locate scholarships that you have a good chance of winning. Your parent might hear of a scholarship that their employer awards to the children of their employees, or your English teacher might hear of a poetry scholarship that matches your interest in literature. Having other people be on the lookout for scholarship opportunities increases your chance of finding free money for college.

3. Be Picky

There are almost as many scholarships as there are high school seniors in this country. You can easily spend a lot of your time applying for scholarships that you have little chance of winning. Carefully read the rules and guidelines of the scholarship before applying. A community service award will often put more emphasis on the applicants' volunteer experience than on their science grades. You will also have little chance of winning an academic scholarship if your GPA is 2.0.

Using your creativity and intellectual muscle to pay for college will increase your odds of getting award money that you will not have to repay. Gen and Kelly Tanabe, both Harvard graduates and authors of "The Ultimate Scholarship Book", each paid for every cent of their tuition through scholarships. Even if you have to take out some federal or private loans, doing your part to reduce your reliance on loans can give you valuable benefits such as reduced amounts of debt and more options for employment after graduation.