Tips on How to Get a College Grant

Grants are better than loans, in the sense that they do not have to be repaid. Most students do not apply for grants thinking that only those with exemplary grades qualify for them. While this is true in case of merit-based grants, there are numerous other grants available to students with specific skills and motivation, and many a time, it is not necessary to be an expert in a field to be eligible. Simply convincing the selection committee that you are passionate about your area of interest, helps. Yet another type of grant is a need-based grant for students whose financial condition is weak.

Useful Tips
Start Your Search Early: The competition for scholarships and grants is increasing day-by-day, as more number are students are going in for higher studies. Many grants are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, make it a point to look for any relevant information as early as possible. For fall admissions, start as early as spring, and for next year’s spring admissions, start before fall. Some universities also have winter programs. In this case too, look for grants beforehand. Government grants take much longer to be disbursed. Plan accordingly, else you have to wait until the next year to reapply and avail the same award. Do not wait to send the application till you get admitted to a college. Your admission may be canceled if you are unable to get the grant before the deadline. Ideally, the admission process and grant search should proceed simultaneously.
Utilize Your Free Knowledge Sources: Some websites provide lists of scholarships, grants, etc., all in one place. You can also find out various categories that you can apply under. If these websites have user-uploaded scholarships, do check for the authenticity from the official websites. Find out and compare the grants available to filter the ones that suit you the best.
Research Well: Before beginning your application, gather as much information as you can about the institution offering the grant and the college you are going to apply to. If possible, find out about more institutions offering the same thing, along with more benefits, including decreased cost, and then select the best ones out of them. Sometimes, the colleges you are applying to, themselves provide grants. If you are not prepared at all, go for a gap year (take a gap). Dedicate it completely to finding the right school and grant for you.
Use an Academic Counselor’s Services: The academic counselor of your college may know your academic prowess well. But what you are going to write in your essay and about your hobbies, is under your control. Many students are able to get grants without paying a hefty fee for an outside counselor, provided they do their research well. However, paid counseling cannot be underestimated either. They will give you a very realistic picture of the colleges you are applying to, and their eligibility criteria. Make sure you tell them exactly what you are looking for, and give them a clear idea of your academic and financial background, for the best results.
Check the Eligibility Criteria: For every application you make, first go through the eligibility conditions. The following points need to be considered…
— Nationality/state of residence
— Financial need
— GPA (more stringent for merit-based grants)
— Adequate college preparatory work
— Academic inclination/motivation to study the course chosen
Apart from these, there are some other conditions that you need to fulfill too. For example, for doctoral degree grants, there may be an age limit. For grants created to uplift certain groups, you need to fall into those categories. There are grants for religious minorities, LGBT, etc., which cater to the same.
Keep Your Documents Ready: When applying for financial aid (need-based grants), your financial data is going to be thoroughly inspected. Also, for all types of grants, make sure you have all qualifying certificates and mark lists ready. Make multiple copies of them, because you may need to send copies of your application along with all necessary documents by mail.
Subscribe to Alerts: You can subscribe to notifying services which will mail you every time a new grant is open for application. This will always keep you updated, and you can also subscribe to multiple categories so that you can notify your siblings, classmates and friends in case they need any grants.
Avail All Options: Do not just bank on one application. The more number of institutions you apply to, the greater your chances of getting a grant are. Some companies also provide grants every year. Here too, do not just look for big companies. The organizations where your parents or you yourself work can provide you an educational grant. Another good idea is to apply for a grant under different categories. For example, if you are a woman belonging to a minority, you can apply for a woman’s grant as well as one in the minority community category. Check if both can be availed at the institution where you are applying to. If not, you can still apply for both, and if you get selected in each, use the one which is more beneficial to you.
Keep the Scores Up: Some grants require you to maintain a certain level of GPA to renew them for the next semester/term. If you fail to do so, the grant could be discontinued. Therefore, keep the scores well above the threshold. Check for the margin with the institution providing the grant. Some colleges may put you on a probation period if you fall short of the GPA for a semester or two. Your grant is not canceled, provided you regain your scores in this time period.
Be Realistic: Look for statistics of selected students. If people with similar qualifications, interests., hobbies, etc., as you, have been selected before, so can you. However, if not many people with a similar level of achievements have qualified, you need something really unique to get through. In such a case, you can also look for another financial aid source, where you have higher chances to succeed.
Be Open to New Ideas: Sometimes, a grant for the course of your desire may not be available. In this case, you can go in for a related subject for which a grant is available, or you can choose a general subject which may give you a chance to specialize in the future. Many a time, a grant unavailable in one state may be available in another. So be open to moving if you can afford the cost of relocation when your education is paid for.
Do Not Succumb: Do not stick to a financial aid for a subject you have no interest for, just because it is paid for. You can always research more and find out about grants in the field of your choice.
Let Borrowing Be Your Last Resort: Loans for college education are available at specific interest rates, but you should try your best to get a grant before considering this alternative. This is because, unless the loan is subsidized, you end up paying much more once you get a job after your education.
Remember that a college grant is different from a scholarship. It may not require any stringent eligibility, but it requires you to prove that you need the grant. The reason financial need is a criterion for a grant, is because if the organization feels you can afford the college fees, then they can award the grant to a more needy student. However, the fact that students are willing to pay an application fee to many institutions hoping to avail a grant, has encouraged scamsters to come up with different ways to trick them.

Things To Look Out For
Remember to look for information only on the official sites of respective institutions. In case of institutes you have not heard of before, check with authentic sources whether the institute is for real. Many institutions asking for a heavy application processing fee for ‘guaranteed scholarship’, can be frauds.
A high processing fee for a small amount of scholarship offered is the most common trick used in grant scams. The fee is generally not returned, nor do they provide any aid.
Fake institutes also provide a ‘money-back guarantee’ if you do not get a scholarship.
If you are receiving any form of communication about a scholarship/grant you never applied for, it could be a trick to extract your financial or other details.
Firms claiming to process your application themselves and do everything for you, are generally fake. For every scholarship application, you need essays, manuscripts, etc., which is a lot of hard work, and no institution will do it for you. You also need to be careful with grants that ask for your credit card and other bank-related information.
If you have not been asked to submit your academic details by the donor organization, it is most certainly fake.
Sometimes, you receive notifications of free counseling seminars, for which a fee is charged. In the end, all you receive is a small package containing the same information that you could easily find from a good scholarship website or your counselor too. Beware of any pamphlets or advertisements related to any such activities.
Some institutions will claim that you will not be able to get the information they provide anywhere else. Real donors provide information to as many forms of media as required, so there cannot be any information unique enough for you to pay for.
Finally, be careful with any intermediaries that claim to help you get a prestigious grant. Always check directly with the source website, not through any indirect media.
Now that you know how to go about looking for a grant, you can start applying for one in the subject of your interest.

How To Apply
Complete the Application: Always fill in the application form carefully. Never leave any of the questions unanswered or blank. If you feel a particular question doesn’t apply to you, mention it therein. Give all additional supporting material like transcripts, letters of recommendations, and essays.
Follow Directions: Do not give unnecessary information or documents. Only provide what has been asked for.
Be Neat: It is always better to have a printed application form. Take a hard copy of the form even if your application is to be made online. Make photocopies of your application prior to filling it, so that in case of any mistake, you can use another copy.
Write an Impressive Essay: If you want your essay to create a good impression, then make it personal and specific. Mention all your concrete details of your experience that you are writing about. Make your essay come alive.
Boast About Yourself: Your application is the only impression the organization has of you before a personal interview (if there is any). Therefore, highlight your best qualities and abilities that make you stand out.
Be Careful About Deadlines: Make sure that all you keep track of all your deadlines. Nothing is worse than a late submission.
Confirm Submission: Make sure that your application reaches the relevant department on time. You do not want to miss out on a grant because your application was delayed or lost in the post. Keep the acknowledgment e-mail or any receipt you get from the organization safe.
Make Backups: Always have backups/copies of your application and other documents ready; in fact, keep a complete backup file, so that you are well-prepared during any eventuality.
Final Proofreading: Recheck your entire application before you submit it.
Get Others’ Opinions: Once you are finished, ask your friends, parents, teachers or seniors to review your application and provide valuable inputs.
Do Not Hesitate to Take Help: If you feel that you need help with any aspect of your application form, then call the funding organization or a counselor for assistance.
As you might have realized by now, the amount of research you do on the plethora of scholarships available, and the number of well-written applications you send to various institutions at the right time, becomes the major factor in deciding whether you qualify for a grant.

Why Do Organizations Finance Education?
The chief purpose a grant serves is altruism. Welfare of people who need it and prove that they deserve it through their educational qualifications is really important to many organizations who are financially capable of making a difference by providing aid. Many institutions provide grants for certain communities to uplift them, and many others to those suffering from some ailments, because the donors or people close to them may have had experienced those conditions in their struggling years. Along with all these reasons, many private companies offer aid to be able to create a brand name and customer loyalty by being associated with social work. This way, they also get to create opportunities for the community while advertising themselves. Educational aids given to employees also create diversity at the workplace and account for tax benefits. Many government organizations want people to learn and appreciate high-in-demand skills in research and other areas, and they provide grants for the same. Some donors who have a passion for arts or music want others to follow suit and recognize it, also give out grants. Lastly, grants are also bestowed on account of a demised individual, who may have declared utilization of his hard-earned money for the benefit of society.

Are Grants Really as Varied as they Say?
There are many grants for ethnic and religious minorities. African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American communities, all have many grants for students. Not just these, there are grants for sports players, artists, veterans, single mothers, physically disabled students, and those working on college projects, or those suffering from certain diseases. States provide grants for high-need jobs like nursing and teaching. In grants-for-service programs, students have to work among the underprivileged or medical patients to avail funds. Also, there are grants for ‘non-traditional students’ or those who have not been able to pursue college education the traditional way. This includes working adults getting educated through evening schools and military personnel. Some grants are also based on lucky draws, and people with certain family names, etc. We can say that there is a grant out there for everyone, you just have to search for it.

Alternatives to College Education

After completing high school, not every teenager wants to go to college. Some want to start working and living independently, while others want to have a gap year where they can take time to find themselves and try to understand what they want from life. Whatever it is, it should contribute to the teenager’s personal growth and development.

Community Service
Get involved in community service and do social work. Helping the community can benefit the teen in many ways. He will be able to gain professional experience, and perhaps consider taking it up as a career. Other than that, community service helps to promote personal growth and self-esteem, bring people together, strengthen the community, and give volunteers a chance to give back to the community. The most important benefit is that the teen will be making a difference in the world, a feeling he can treasure for the rest of his life. By doing community service, the teen will know the importance of working hard and taking responsibility in life.

A teenager could learn a trade by working as an apprentice in the business of his choice. If he is interested in joining or opening his own advertising firm in the future, he can then work at an advertising agency for a year after high school. This will help gain a basic idea of how this industry works. In addition to that, he can get the necessary certificates from the company which will help him to get a job in the same field in the future.

Joining the military right after high school has many benefits. A teen can learn a great deal about himself after joining the military. He can learn values such as patriotism, discipline, teamwork, leadership, etiquette, and keeping fit. At the same time, he can earn enough money to fund his college education. If he does not want to continue further education, the military experience will help him to get good civilian jobs as well.

Taking a break and traveling to new places will help the teen meet new people and learn about various cultures. He will be able to learn about how people from different communities live, what cultural values they follow, etc. With globalization and people from many countries working together in organizations now, this knowledge about other cultures will help him in the future.

Vocational Training
One of the most useful options is vocational training. The teen can learn various trades such as nursing, accountancy, carpentry, cooking, medicine, etc. A student can get enrolled in a certificate program for the trade of his choice. Once he learns the skills and earns the appropriate qualifications, he can pursue it as a career.

These are a few alternatives which a teenager can choose to effectively spend and utilize his time after high school. Care should be taken that he is engaged in something that adds to his experience, knowledge, and personal growth.

A College Students Guide to Personal Finance Five Useful Tips

I think nearly every college student in the US, aside from a select few who have incredibly rich parents or full scholarships, has to take out a loan to pay for the fees. Thus, the vast majority of us will leave college with both a degree and an IOU in hand. Unfortunately, many young adults who are off on their own for the first time find themselves not only with massive student loan payments but large credit card debts too. For some, it’s the only way to survive. For others, especially those who are receiving a modest living allowance from their parents, it’s pure irresponsibility that puts them in a dire financial situation. Even for the most careful of spenders, we can still find ourselves making bad choices or mistakenly overpaying for goods or services.

Is there any way to avoid the pitfalls most students find themselves falling into? Of course! It doesn’t even take a major in finance to come up with a plan of action for setting yourself on track to becoming a fiscally responsible member of society. Here are five tips to get you started:
Cutting Back: Cutting back on things that are not absolutely necessary is a good start. Sure, we’d all like to own a Nintendo Wii and the latest games, but is it necessary? If you already have a friend who has one, go over to his or her place and get your gaming fix, along with a little social time. Or, if you still want some games to play on your own, revisit some of the classic systems of our childhood. Even a basic NES system will provide hours of entertainment. In fact, if you’re that into video games, chances are you’ve got a Playstation, Sega Genesis, or a Nintendo 64 lying around and a decent library of games. If you want a new game, check out a used game shop or eBay for titles you’ve never played.

Video games are just one example of a way in which you can cut back. One thing that’s saved me hundreds of dollars was foregoing cable television. Yes, it’s nice to have a variety, but how many of those hundreds of channels will you actually watch? Plus, if you’re a full-time student, you’d be better off spending your time studying or going out with friends rather than spending it on a couch watching reruns of Mythbusters on the Discovery channel. If you live in or are close enough to a major city, you can get an antenna to pick up the basic network TV stations. You may even get some of those channels in HD with the right antenna! Another area where college students probably spend too much is on food. Many of us will grab some fast food in between classes or stop by a coffee shop in the morning for a USD 5 specialty coffee drink. Sure, these are great to have on occasions, but if you spend USD 10 everyday on food and drinks, that adds up to USD 300 a month. Even buying a bottle of soda everyday will cost you at least USD 30 a month or more. Pack a lunch, brew your own coffee, and buy twelve or twenty-four packs of pop instead of shelling out more at stores and vending machines.
Budgeting: Coming up with a basic budget is simple enough. If you are working part-time and get around USD 400 a month, you can divide that into fourths and allow yourself USD 100 each for food, entertainment, miscellaneous expenses, and savings. It’s as easy as that. If you budget a certain amount for ‘ miscellaneous expenses’, such as unexpected bills or a contingency, but don’t use it all, you can either add it to your savings or use it to treat yourself to a new video game or a pair of jeans.
Work-Study: No matter what school you go to, you can almost always find a campus job. Some schools require you to have work-study funds, but chances are if you’re having a hard time paying for school and living expenses, you probably do. If you can land a job like a security guard, a library or computer lab attendant, or a parking attendant, you’ll likely be able to study while on the job. Schools will provide these jobs to students to help them make enough money to live on while still allowing enough time to study.
Bargain Shop: Sure, you might think that you already bargain shop at a clearance sale or buy drug store makeup rather than shelling out hundreds of dollars at a department store. While that can make a difference, you can always take it one step further. Instead of going to the mall and buying brand new clothes, check out your local thrift store or Ragstock. If you would rather not wear used clothes, another alternative is to shop at discount stores like TJ Maxx or Kohl’s. You can find incredible deals, and often you’ll find top-of-the-line products for less than what you’ll find anywhere else. For example, I once bought a pair of Converse All-Stars at TJ Maxx for USD 10. The price I would have paid at a regular shoe store would have been USD 50 at the least!
Choose Loans Carefully: Not all student loans are created equal. One must be thorough when reading the fine print. I must admit that I’m no expert on loans and the specifics, so the best advice I can provide is to speak with your adviser or the financial aid office at your school to find out what loans you are eligible for and which ones are worth your while.
Getting a college degree can be challenging and expensive, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Not only will you be more satisfied with your career, but you’ll also have enriched your life through the pursuit of knowledge. You would be proud of yourself for taking this path in life, but if you find yourself in tens of thousands of dollars in debt afterwards, you probably won’t be as satisfied with your accomplishment. Take these steps today to protect yourself from debt!

Small Business Ideas for College Students

College students consider working at fast food joints as the best option to earn money. However, starting a small business can also prove to be a great idea to earn extra money without spending much time. Let us have a look at the different options available for earning money while continuing the studies.

Small Business Ideas for Students

For beginners, these cool small business ideas should prove to be a good source of earning money.

Tutoring: It is a perfect business for students who want to earn only as much money as is required to cover the monthly expenses. In order to start tutoring, you should consider teaching subjects like Mathematics, Science and English. This business doesn’t require any kind of investment and it is possible to earn enough to pay for monthly expenses.

Handmade Crafts and Items: Selling handmade craft items can help you earn enough cash required for your daily expenses. The craft works, paintings, knitting, etc. could be sold at fairs, gatherings, etc. You could also think of selling art and craft items. The art and craft items one has prepared in his school days can be used for the purpose.

Yard Work: It is one of the small business ideas for college students who wish to earn money without spending anything. One can mow grass, carry out weeding, etc. and charge people for the service. If you have some know-how of gardening, you can help neighbors in giving their garden an artistic and beautiful appearance. Tending vegetable patches of your neighbors can also help you earn a decent amount of cash.

Freelancing: The activity of freelancing includes writing for newspapers, doing photography, etc. It is a creative job and helps in bringing out the best in your work. However, there are a lot of uncertainties involved in this activity. For example, the news need to be appealing and one may not get paid if the employer doesn’t find it interesting. However, one of the advantages of freelancing is that one doesn’t have to invest anything beforehand.

Laundry Service: Starting a laundry service is one of the good business ideas for students to earn money. One can advertise this small business through mouth publicity. Since washing clothes is quite a boring job and not many people are ready to do it, one could find a better business opportunity in this work. A good washing machine, capable of washing multiple clothes would prove to be helpful in easing out your work. Moreover, you could also save time for studies and other extracurricular activities.

Cleaning: Just like laundry, you could think of starting a cleaning business. College students always need an affordable cleaning service. Being a college student yourself, you would find it easy to market your service and thereby, prosper in this business. You can add food-delivery to this service of cleaning. It won’t require you to search for a market separately. This way, you get to learn new tricks of the business.

Data Entry Jobs: It is a kind of job that can be done even by a layman since it doesn’t require much skills except for speedy typing. It is a good source of earning money for students in their free time. Basic knowledge of handling computers is enough to do the data entry job. A data entry job is considered amongst the popular online businesses for college students.

Setting up a Website: A person who is good at working with websites and computers as a whole can try out this activity. You could earn more than enough for a month’s expenses through this endeavor. However, setting up a website requires in-depth knowledge of programming languages and functioning of computers. In short, it is a geek’s job to set up a fully functional website.

Entertainment: If a person is fond of playing a musical instrument like piano, guitar, etc. he/she should try to earn money by performing at wedding receptions, parties or other such occasions.

College students have access to hundreds of people who make their marketing job much easier. In fact, the whole college can be viewed as a potential market, provided a person is ready to work hard in reaching out to as many people as possible. There are however, a few things you need to take into consideration before starting any business on campus. First of all, you should check whether the university policies allow for any business activity. Also, you shouldn’t make your roommate’s life hell just because you are churning out profits from your business. Finally, the most important thing – studies should not be ignored. Because you are a college student, your first priority should be studying sincerely. The business should not affect your academic performance.

There are many other small business ideas apart from the above mentioned ones like snack delivery business, bakery service, writing service, etc. Thus, you should find an appropriate business that helps earn money to fulfill your monetary needs.