May 24, 2017



Scholarships for College Students Who Have Already Graduated Once

Scholarship Money for College StudentsIf you’ve already been through the annals of higher educations, the idea of pursuing any of the thousands of scholarships for college students out there can seem like an unlikely pastime. It’s true the most college financing scholarships are designed for first-time students, but that word ‘most’ should hold a lot of hope for those of us looking to return to school after a few years in the workforce.

Such adults almost always fall into one of two categories: people who simply want to improve on an existing skillset in order to advance further in their career, and people who need to retrain in order to get back into that workforce. In general, it’s the folks in that latter category that need help — common sources of student loans have already been exhausted, and many of them have no one with long-term financial security to act as a cosigner anway. Trying to get student loans without cosigner assistance is a real trial, especially if you have bad credit. Student loans aren’t exactly the best source of college financing in the first place — you have to pay them back, after all — you’re much better looking at scholarships. For college students past a certain age, scholarships can actually be easier to qualify for — the hard part is finding them.

Several states, most notably Arkansas and Tennessee, offer ‘lottery scholarships’ which almost anyone of college age can apply for and have a chance (literally) of winning. It’s not the most reliable source of scholarships for college, but if your state has anything like it, there’s no point in not applying. There are also several strong scholarships out there that refer to themselves as scholarships for “non-traditional students”; that’s a good place to start Googling if you’re unsure of where you’re getting your college financing.

Of course, most scholarships for college don’t intend to pay your entire tuition, so one thing that any adult can do to make the scholarships they do find more effective is to find a way to reduce tuition. Work study, obtaining credit for life experience, and committing to a longer, part-time course are all good ways to reduce your need for student loans, scholarships for college, and other college financing.

It’s easy for an adult to overlook the power of a scholarship notebook. Unlike a high school student, we’re not exactly used to putting in the kind of research and writing effort that a scholarship hunt really takes — but rather than thinking of it as a hardship, think of it as some of the most effective work you’ll ever do. After all, spending 100 hours obtaining $15,000 of scholarships means you just made $150 per hour — and that’s a far cry from whatever you made at your last job. Add that to the improvement to your income that comes from having a college degree, and you’ll quickly realize that scholarships for college are some of the best investments it’s possible to make — so get to it!



The Search For Scholarships: For Adopted Children, It Can Be Tough

student loans for adopted childrenIt’s not often that a foster or adoptive parent worries about paying for college when they first agree to take a child in, but hopefully they will one day realize it’s time to search around for scholarships; for adopted children, it can be tougher than normal to get traditional funding. A foster parent of an adopted child can occasionally count on money from the state for a variety of different purposes — dependent on their financial situation, of course — but few states have programs to help out with scholarships for college students that were adopted.

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in Florida, New Jersey, Maine, Texas, or Virginia and get one of the limited number of state scholarships for adopted children, you’re going to have to look to private groups to provide the same — or seek alternative forms of college financing. Student loans are a common enough choice, but if you happen to have bad credit, student loans can be even harder to obtain than scholarships. (Note: that list isn’t necessarily comprehensive, you should always call your state’s particular department that deals with adoption and foster care and ask them about any relevant college financing programs they might have.

Mercifully, there are plenty of private organizations that organize scholarships for adopted children. You can contact the National Foster Parent Association, the Orphan Foundation of America, and a few other major national organizations, but the truth is that it’s often easier to get college financing from smaller institutions, either state or local groups, or even financial institutions with the right kind of political bent.

One way to find these more obscure scholarships for adoptees is to know a few key terms to search for online. ‘Legacy scholarships for adopted children’ is a good one to start with, and more can be found with a bit of poking around online. Of course, finding the scholarship isn’t enough — you still have to meet any other qualifications, print off the form, fill it out, and return it to the institution that handles the scholarship.

Generally speaking, adoptee’s scholarships are limited by the state, as most charitable organizations are statewide. Frustratingly, some of these organizations will only apply their scholarships to an adoptee currently living in their state, regardless of where they go to college — and others are exactly the opposite, providing college financing for adoptees attending school in their state even if they have a residence elsewhere. Finding the right set of scholarships for your adopted child requires patience and persistence more than anything else.

There are options beyond just scholarships for adopted children, as well. Various waiver programs, Federal loans and grants, work study programs, and even institution-specific options (particularly at private schools) can be used in any combination to get your child into and through the higher education system. If you keep an open mind and you’re willing to try at a variety of educational institutions, you’ll eventually find a way to succeed.



Summary Of Federal Student Loans And Grants Available

The table below provides a quick overview of the student loans and grants which are available to college students today.

Federal Aid Program Type of Aid Program Summary Annual Award
Federal Pell Grant Grant:
Does not have to be repaid.
Available to undergraduates on the basis of financial need. $400 – $4,731
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Grant:
Does not have to be repaid.
Available to undergraduates with exceptional financial need with priority given to Federal Pell Grant recipients. Funds depend on the availability of the program in schools. $100 – $4,000
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) Grant:
Does not have to be repaid.
Available to undergraduates receiving Pell Grants who are US citizens enrolled full-time in their first or second academic year of study. First year students must have completed a rigorous secondary school program of study not previously been enrolled in an undergraduate program.

Second year students must have completed a rigorous secondary school program of study and have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the completion of their first year of postsecondary study.

First year students:
Up to $750 Second year students:
Up to $1,300
National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) Grant:
Does not have to be repaid.
Available to undergraduates receiving Pell Grants who are US citizens enrolled full-time in their third or fourth academic year of an eligible degree program majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, engineering, technology, mathematics or a critical-need foreign language and who have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Up to $4,000 for each of the third and fourth academic years
Federal Work-Study (FWS) Money is earned while attending school:
Does not have to be repaid
Availabe to undergraduate and graduate students. Jobs can be on campus or off campus and students are paid at least federal minimum wage. No annual minimum or maximum award amounts
Federal Perkins Loan Loan:
Has to be repaid
Available to both undergraduate and graduate students with interest charged at 5% Payment is owed to the school making the loan. $4,000 maximum for undergraduate students $6,000 maximum for graduate and professional degree students

No minimum award amount

Subsidized Direct or FFEL Stafford Loan Loan:
Has to be repaid
Available to students who are in financial need and following at least a half-time program. US Department of Education pays interest while the student is in school and during grace and deferment periods. $3,500 to $8,500 depending on grade level
Unsubsidized Direct or FFEL Stafford Loan Loan:
Has to be repaid
Available to students who are in at least a half-time program. The student is responsible for interest payments throughout the life of the loan. $3,500 to $20,500 (less any subsidized amounts received for the same period), depending on grade level and dependency status
Direct or FFEL PLUS Loan Loan:
Has to be repaid
Available to parents of dependent undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half-time. The PLUS Loan Program is now also available to graduate and professional degree students.

PLUS Loans are unsubsidized and the student is responsible for interest payments throughout the life of the loan.

There is no minimum award amount. Maximum amount is the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid which the student receives.


Grants And Scholarships For Older Students

Grants for older studentsWhen you consider the range of educational opportunities available today which were simply unheard of twenty or thirty years ago it is perhaps no surprise to find that a growing number of older people are now applying for places at our universities.

There are of course many different reasons for an older person deciding to go to university but the two most commonly seen reasons are to prepare themselves for a change in career and to do something for themselves once their children have grown up and left home.

The biggest problem however for many older students is finding the money to pay for university. A full time campus based course is not cheap and for mature students the cost of the course is only half of the equation and they will also need to give up work to attend university and so also lose the regular salary that they and their family have become accustomed to.

The good news is that there is financial aid available specifically for older students and for which you are not in competition with the vast majority of people seeking grants and scholarships each year, but only with those over the age of 25 or, in some limited circumstances, over the age of 30.

Because it is the aim of the government to increase the number of mature students in order to bring education to the masses, national, state and college funding is now far more widely available than it used to be as local governments and colleges have taken up the federal government education initiative.

The principle behind funding for older students is simply that money should be made available to students in cases where a student’s family would not be able to survive with the loss of the students wage while he attends university. As in most cases it becomes increasingly difficult to manage without a salary as we get older, this means that the vast majority of older applicants meet this criterion.

Local governments and individual schools offer grants which vary widely from small grants to provide supplemental income to large grants which will fully fund tuition fees. The good news here though is that you can generally apply for grants from more than one source and, in the case of low income families, there are also special grants available.

When it comes to scholarships these are also available specifically for mature students and this gives you a wider field of opportunity as there is also nothing to stop mature students from applying for scholarships which are open to younger students as well.

Finally, you should note that funding is not only available to mature students who are looking to follow a bachelor or associate degree, but is also on offer to older individuals who are looking to return to university to follow a masters or PhD program.

So, if you are considering attending university later in later, or thinking about returning to university as a mature student, do not be put off by the thought that you simply cannot afford to so. Take the time to look at the many sources of funding available for mature students today.



Credit Union College Scholarships

credit union college scholarshipsWhether you are waiting to go up to college or are already in college you will almost certainly need money for college and your starting point should always be to look for free money in the form of grants and scholarships. Here, one often overlooked area is that of credit union college scholarships. But just what is a credit union?

Credit unions were established in the United States during the early years of the twentieth century and today have some 86 million members. In simple terms a credit union is a financial organization or institution which is owned and controlled by its members and provides a range of financial services to its members, including the provision of credit at reasonable rates of interest.

Outwardly credit unions look a lot like banks in that you can open a checking or savings account with a credit union, have a credit union credit card and borrow money from a credit union for a variety of different purposes. However, behind the scenes the differences between credit unions and banks are substantial. For example, a bank is a business owned by its shareholders and managed by a paid board of directors whereas a credit union is owned by its members and run by a voluntary board drawn from those members. Perhaps most importantly credit unions are not-for-profit cooperative organizations which enjoy tax-exempt status. In other words, any money within the union is there for the benefit of the members and is exempt from federal and state income taxes, but not from employment of property taxes.

Okay, so what has all this got to do with college scholarships?

The vast majority of credit unions, like other organizations, are always keen to attract new members and one way in which they do this is to run annual competitions for the award of college scholarships. These competitions vary widely and might come in the form of an essay or video competition which is generally open to any member who is currently attending college or enrolled to start college in the year in which the competition is being run.

The important point to note about the competition is that it is only open to members and so, before you can submit an entry for consideration, you will need to join the union. This however is generally very easy and in many cases amounts to nothing more than opening a savings account, often with a balance of as little as $5.

What sort of award can you get and how easy is it to win?

Awards will vary widely between different credit unions and from year to year and they are unlikely to meet all of your expenses, but they can certainly help. One attraction however of credit union college scholarships is that competition is not always that high, especially for scholarships from the smaller unions, and so it is well worth having a try.



College Scholarships for Adopted Children

adopted children scholarshipsWhen most parents a child their focus is on giving that child a good life and not on worrying about paying for college tuition.

Of course there are some parents who save money or set up a payment plan to pay for their childrens’ college education but there are also many parents who are not financially able to pay for college tuition and will need some assistance. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to adopted children that will help with paying for college. Usually, the state provides monetary resources to adopted children to pay for tuition and living expenses and there are also grants and college scholarships for adopted children.

Many states like Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Maine and Virginia have scholarships available to adopted children that went through their state foster care system. In addition, Arizona offers a scholarship called the Armstrong family foundation scholarship that is available to anyone who is an orphan, a ward of the state, in foster care or a qualified independent student. The requirements for the scholarship are that the applicant has a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3 and demonstrates financial need. Also, the candidate is required to do 40 hours of approved community service each academic year and must be an incoming freshman and attending Arizona State University.

The first point of contact for college scholarships for adopted children is the office of your state adoption specialist. This office will be available to inform parents and children about the resources available in their state to help pay for college. For example, The Gordon Evans Scholarship is awarded annually to foster children or adoptive children enrolled in an accredited post secondary institution where the candidate’s family is a member of the National Foster Parent Association.

There are different scholarships, grants and waivers available in each state for adopted children and parents can contact their local adoption office or the department of family and children services for help with finding available resources. The resources are there to provide college scholarships for adopted children but it is a matter of taking action to find out what is available in your state.



Scholarships For College Students

College ScholarshipsScholarships for college students are similar to college grants in that they do not have to be repaid. Unfortunately, while it is quite easy to find out about grants, finding a scholarship often requires a bit of detective work.

Scholarships are often thought of as being available only for academic high achievers or those students who demonstrate a high level of sporting ability, but this is far from the case.

There are literally hundreds of different scholarships available each year and they are aimed at just about every group you care to mention.

For example, there are scholarships for residents of particular towns, cities and states; for minority students studying specific subjects; for students with parents serving in the Armed Forces, or who have served in the Armed Forces and are now veterans.

There are also scholarships for single parents in certain circumstances; for the children of local widows and indeed for students who fall into 1001 different categories.

The problem is finding a scholarship to suit your individual circumstances and that means searching.

In the table below we have listed just a handful of the hundreds of scholarships on offer to give you a flavor of the wide range of coverage provided by this free source of college funding.

Scholarship Amount Requirements

If you are looking for a scholarship then two good places to start your search are College Aid and FastWeb.



Grants For College

Grant and Scholarship ApplicationsWhen it comes to college funding most students immediately think in terms of loans and overlook the fact that there are both college loans and grants available from the federal government.

Education today costs a lot of money and anything that you can do reduce the amount of money which you have to pay out of your own pocket is going to help very considerably. You may be able to get some help from your parents or family, but you will almost certainly have to raise extra money from somewhere else and, before you look at a loan, you should investigate getting hold of some free money for college by way of a scholarship or grants for college.

We cover both US Department of Education loans and scholarships separately, but here we are going to concentrate our attention on grants money for college students.

Grants are particularly attractive as, unlike loans, they do not have to be repaid. However, they are only awarded on the basis of need and depend upon your status as a student (e.g. full or part-time), the amount of any contribution which can reasonably be expected from your family and the cost of your course of study.

There are currently four types of federal grant aid available:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
  • Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG)
  • National Science and Mathematics Access To Retain Talent Grants (National SMART grants)

Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell grants are the foundation on which the federal student financial aid program is based and to which further aid from both government and non-government sources can be added.

Pell grants are normally only awarded to undergraduate students although, in some cases, it is possible to receive a Pell grant if you are enrolled on a post-baccalaureate teacher’s certificate program.

The amount of Pell grants varies from year to year and you can receive only one award for attendance at a single school within any one year.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

FSEOGs are awarded to undergraduates in particular financial need and who can expect to receive little or no contribution from their family. Students in receipt of a Pell grant will also receive priority in deciding upon the award of a FSEOG.

To receive a FSEOG grant your school must participate in the FSEOG program. Each year the school will receive an allocation of funds from the US Department of Education and the amount of individual awards to students will be decided by the school. For this reason it is very important to apply for college grant money early.

Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG)

The Academic Competitiveness Grant was introduced in 2006 and is available to first and second year full-time undergraduate students who are US citizens enrolled in an eligible program and in receipt of a federal Pell grant.

Eligibility is also dependent upon completion of a rigorous secondary school study program and enrollment in an academic program which runs for at least two years and attracts full credit towards a bachelor’s degree or enrollment on a graduate degree program with at least three years of study.

What exactly constitutes a ‘rigorous secondary school study program’ is a complex matter but includes:

  • A program established by a state in response to a request from the US Department of Education.
  • An advanced or honors diploma program.
  • A required set of courses which are similar to the State Scholars Initiative.
  • International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses.

National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grants
(National SMART Grants)

The National SMART Grant is available to third and fourth year undergraduate students who are US citizens enrolled in an eligible program and in receipt of a federal Pell grant.

Eligible programs include graduate degree programs which include at least three years of undergraduate study and programs leading to the award of a bachelor’s degree. In both cases programs must major in physical science, life science, computer science, engineering, technology, mathematics or a critical-needs foreign language.

Students must also have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.

How are grants for college paid?

Grants for college can be paid by schools as follows:

  • Into the student’s school account.
  • Directly to the student, normally by check.
  • A combination of the previous two methods.
  • Into the student’s bank account.

Grants for college must be paid at least once each term or, where a school does not follow the traditional term system, must be paid at least twice during the course of an academic year.

If you are interested in getting hold of your share of federal grant money for college then you might find our summary of federal student loans and grants available helpful.



What Constitutes Financial Aid Money For College?

Financial Aid Money for CollegeJust like everything else the cost of education has risen greatly. Average tuition increases of more than 6% per year are common now. For example, back in 1973 the price to register at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) was round about $200 per quarter while today it is more than $2,000.

That ten times increase is not at all abnormal and many things now cost ten times more than they cost back in the 1970s. By contrast, incomes have risen roughly three times in the same time period from about $15,000 – $30,000 per year to approximately $39,000 – $42,000 per year. These numbers vary by age, gender and more but as a rough guide a threefold increase is about right.

However it’s not all bad news. There are far more types of financial assistance available today to both parents and students than there has ever been. Financial assistance, as its name suggests, is money which students and parents get from scholarships, loans and grants from Federal and private lenders to assist students to pay for their education.

Previously, students depended almost totally on Pell grants and Stafford loans to finance the cost of their education and living expenses. Today Pell grants are still issued but they are needs based and meet a small percentage of college costs today. Stafford loans are similarly needs based but can meet 25% to 40% of the average cost of school these days. Another form of aid is Perkins loans that are similar to Stafford loans but that are given only to particularly low income families.

Happily, PLUS loans (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students) are also available now and these were not around a few years ago. These are loans provided for parents and not students to help parents to pay for their child’s education. Interest rates on PLUS loans are reasonable and there are a few restrictions and fees levied but they often form an important part of the student’s overall package of funding.

A quick word to the wise about fees. Most loans are for a specific sum of money such as $6,000 per year to be disbursed in several payments (usually once each semester). However it’s common for fees of up to 4% to be deducted from that amount before any funds are disbursed. This 4% fee on your $6,000 equates to $240 that you never see but that you have to repay. When you are searching for a loan ensure that you do your homework and see if you can find a low-fee or no-fee loan.

Although Federal loan programs such as the subsidized Stafford loan program have low fees and the government pays the interest, they are not the only source of financial assistance nowadays and are not necessarily the best choice.

Funding the cost of a college education nowadays is a complex operation and most students will have to assemble a funding package that includes scholarships, grants, government loans and private financing.

Fortunately, there are now far more sources of finance available than ever before and competition in the open market between private financial institutions in particular means that you can find funds at a price that is not necessarily going to run you into unmanageable debt.

It is also fortunate that you live at a time when getting hold of the information that you need to make wise decisions about the choices which are available to you is also quite easy.