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Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is the overwhelming responsibility of funding a college education.

FACT: On average, a college-educated person will earn nearly $1 million more than a high school graduate over a lifetime (found at http://www.nhelp.net/splan.htm).

Although funding a four-year education may seem like an impossibility today, it all pays off in the end.

Is it really an impossibility? Not if you begin planning, budgeting, and saving now. Free rides to pay for college are few and far between, so begin your preparation today. One of the first steps is researching your possibilities of aid and resources. The Internet is the perfect tool to discover new information and up-to-date options for financing a higher education. Related sites will be included to help you see the numerous sources of information available on the Web.

In addition to technology lending a hand, hopefully the government will be taking action on President Clintons claim in his state of the union address on February 5, 1997, regarding student financial aid:

"I propose Americas HOPE Scholarship: two years of a $1,500 tax credit for college tuition, enough to pay for the typical community college. I also propose a tax deduction of up to $10,000 a year for all tuition after high school; an expanded IRA you can with draw from tax free for education; and the largest increase in Pell Grant scholarships in 20 years. Now, this plan will give most families the ability to pay no taxes on money they save for college tuition. I ask you to pass it - and give every American who works hard the chance to go to college."

Obviously, college bound people are hard working Americans. Whether you are still in school, a parent with a newborn, or a non-traditional student contemplating furthering your education, begin your college-fund planning with research. This might include: forecasting college costs, planning a monthly saving schedule for college or determining your eligibility for financial aid.

Financial aid is defined as money that is given, lent or paid to you so you can afford college expenses. It is available from private sources, colleges and universities, or state and federal government agencies.

A good starting place is searching out non-loan forms of financial aid including: grants and scholarships (merit- or need-based), Work Study, and Military options. Work study is a government-funded financial aid program that provides assistance to financial aid recipients in return for work on or off campus. These jobs must pay at least the federal minimum wage.

Some grants or scholarships go unclaimed because students do not apply. Do not let that happen to you. Exhaust the free aid sources.

Next, explore loans, payment plans, and prepaid tuition plans. If you decide to borrow, many Web sites have active calculator exercises to estimate your borrowing needs.

There is no time like the present to begin your search to make "Tuition Impossible" a tuition reality. Here are related sites and sources of aid to help grant you access to a higher education.

Article by Karla M. Mickey
Education World™
Copyright © 1997 Education World

Related Resources


  • Financial Aid Estimation Form A free estimate of your family contribution and financial need.
  • Marks Financial Aid Calculators Calculators to help figure costs, savings, insurance, need analysis, and loans. They are all free, accurate, and completely confidential. You can role-play "what-if" scenarios to give a better understanding of college education financing and help you plan for the future.


  • FastWEB: Financial Aid Search Through the Web It is brought to you by the Financial Aid Information Page and is the largest free database. You can search over 180,000 private sector scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans.
  • SRN Express The award listings offered here are more detailed information than can be found in most scholarship databases and scholarship listing books.
  • ExPAN Scholarship Search The College Boards database is updated annually and contains listings of scholarships, fellowships, loans, internships, and other types of financial aid programs from 3,300 national, state, public, and private sources.
  • CollegeNET MACH25 This database contains listings of more than 500,000 private sector awards from 1,570 sponsors. You can view the results in brief or detailed formats, save individual awards in their profile, and generate letters to request additional information.
  • Mark Kantrowitzs Financial Aid Awards Database It is a free database of 149 listings focused on scholarships and fellowships in mathematics, science, and engineering.
  • UC Irvine Scholarship Opportunities Program The University of California/Irvine Scholarship Opportunities Program features the "Use Your Brain" Scholarship Book (UCI Brainbook). This resource lists more than 200 scholarships, fellowships, grants and internships available to undergraduate students. The lists are broken down into several categories: essay, general, graduate, heritage, internship, major, research, and symposium.

Documents & Publications

  • The Student Guide Published by the US Department of Education, this provides definitive information about federal aid programs, including the Pell Grants, Federal Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), and Federal Perkins Loans.
  • FAFSA Instructions: Free Application for Federal Student Aid Online instruction regarding filling out the FAFSA (free application for federal student aid)
  • Looking for Student Aid - call (800) 4FED-AID
  • Funding Your Education 1996-97 This web page contains a new guide to student financial aid from the US Department of Education.
  • Dont Miss Out: The Amibitious Students Guide to Financial Aid An online version of Robert and Anna Leiders book (20th edition, 1995).
  • Cash for College & Timely Information for Parents and Students (TIPS) The NASFAA Public Page includes the complete text of two publications for students and their families from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
  • Preparing Your Child for College: A Resource Book for Parents An online version of the 57-page publication for parents by the US Department of Education. A paper copy may be ordered by calling (800)USA-LEARN. The topics include choosing a college, how much college will cost, how you will be able to afford it, the most common sources of financial aid, some ways to keep college costs down, setting up a long-range plan, and more information. It even has charts to forecast scenarios such as the amount you need to save to have $10,000 accumulated by the time your child begins college.
  • Glossary of Financial Aid Terminology Contains definitions of many of the terms use in the financial aid trade.


  • Ask the Aid Advisor A source where 60 financial aid administrators and professionals have volunteered to answer questions from students and parents.
  • Scholarship Scam Alert Advice on identifying scams and evaluating services and offers, and includes a list of suspicious scholarship opportunities.

Loan Information

  • PNC Bank Education Loan Center Provides a wealth of information of financing an education. It includes: an introduction, advice on what to do, how and when to do it, college savings plan calculator, education loan payment calculator, and other useful resources.
  • Purdues Student Loan Counselor Although it is Purdue specific, it offers students a walk through the counseling aspects of educational loans. Much of the material is relevant to students at other universities.
  • Sallie Mae - searchable index Sallie Mae is the nations largest secondary market and holds approximately one third of all educational loans. Sallie Mae buys student loans from lenders and administers them from origination through repayment.
    Their web page provides calculators, forecasting college costs, savings requirements, expected family contribution, budgeting, estimating loan balances, calculators for net assets, borrowing needs, and a glossary.

Financial Aid Information

  • The Financial Aid Information Page An extensive resource for student financial aid information on the World-Wide-Web. It includes a comprehensive alphabetical index of all financial aid resources on the Web.
  • College Board Online - searchable index This page provides a wealth of information about financial aid. It includes calculators, Parent Loan Advisor, Parent Loan Repayment Calculator, Student Loan Advisor, glossary, bibliography of financial aid books and borrowing tips. They offer fee-based services and products through College Board. For more information, send email to [email protected].