State Financial Aid

How to tap into state resources to fund your child's education

Looking for college funding can be very time consuming, but the rewards are worth it. There are a variety of funding sources available to help your child pay for higher education. State scholarships and grants, for example, provide money that does not have to be repaid.

One of the places you can look is on your state's Department of Higher Education website, which will provide you with advice as well as funding options. Another good starting point is at your child's high school guidance office – many schools provide several resources for students. Check out the information that is available at your public library and consider some of the organizations that you are a part of. Churches, for example, might provide some type of funding. Students should also look into whether the companies that their parents work for offer any financial aid. And of course, they can always get a part-time job.

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Different scholarships and grants have different requirements. While some are based more on academic achievement, others are based more on need. There are also awards for community service and excellence in sports. Some requirements for these awards – such as essays, test scores and transcripts – may need to be submitted for review. Start early, because these steps can take a lot of time. Also, be aware that some awards are given annually, while others are a one-time deal. Be sure to verify the details.

Students entering a college in Alabama can apply for the Academic Elite Scholarship. In order to be considered for this award, students must have scored at least 1400 on their SATs, they must have received an ACT score of 32 or higher or they must have a minimum GPA of 3.8. Other considerations, such as leadership, extracurricular activities and service are also taken into account. The Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship Program is given to students who are the first ones in their families to attend college. In addition to financial aid, winners of this award could receive student support services.

The Florida Bright Futures Program is given out to students across the United States. Community service and academic strength are the focuses of this award. Test scores, transcripts, and a financial need analysis are also required upon application.

In order to apply for the Maine State Grant, students must be eligible for federal student aid. It is important to include a financial needs analysis with the application.

Presented here are just a few examples from a few states, but there are many more. Don't worry if your child didn't have the top grades in his or her graduating class, as they might be eligible for other awards, such as ones with a community focus.