written by: jciotta•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 8/18/2013
Which websites are credible and which are scams? Sometimes it's hard to decipher which financial aid sites are the most reputable. That's where we come in. We can provide you with a list of the most credible websites to research college scholarships for freshmen.
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Are You Need-Based or Non-Need Based?
Finding college scholarships can be an overwhelming process for students and parents alike. Where do you even start to look? There are so many scams out there and sites with misinformation. In this article, we take the mystery out of finding free money for college and help you find the right financial aid from highly reputable scholarship websites.
First, let's assess what type of scholarships you are looking for. Does your family's income fall into lower income or middle class income categories? If your total household contribution is less than $100,000 annually, depending on the number of persons in your household, you might qualify for need-based scholarships. Usually, this money is set aside for very low income, but the spectrum has started to broaden with the astronomical rising price of college these days. For example, to attend Harvard College, it now costs a freshman $52,652 for the 2013-14 school year.
Also, there are non-need based scholarships out there, which are available to any economic group. Non need-based scholarships are usually essay-writing contests or scholarships based on academic excellence or outstanding community leadership. Those grants have nothing to do with what income level the student falls into, which is a welcome alternative for upper middle class parents who struggle to pay for college.
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Here is a list of reputable websites to find scholarships:
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Most people use this site to apply for the FAFSA each year, but did you know there's a section all about student aid? Click on StudentAid.gov on the top of the website and on the next page click on Types of Aid where you can search for anything you want. Simply browse or type in the word "freshman" in the search box and you'll find a plethora of reputable scholarships, including scholarships for military families.
FinAid is one of the most reputable and well-respected sites to finding scholarships on the Internet. The publisher of FinAid is a financial expert who is interviewed by outlets such as CNN, CNBC, The New York Times, etc. on a regular basis.
FastWeb is actually linked to FinAid. Again, it's highly reputable, and seems a little more accessible than FinAid. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the main screen to find "Scholarship Directory" (in gray, small print) and click on it. Then move onto the next screen, click on "Scholarships by Year of Study." Then click on "College Freshman." A list of literally hundreds of scholarships comes up. Examples include the Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship and United Youth Fitness Scholarship.
White Picket Collegeis not your average financial aid website. It is a newer site with a great reputation that focuses on non-need-based college financial aid for the upper middle class. On the main menu, it has a "Scholarships and Grants" section. Run your mouse over it and you'll see the list. They add more scholarships regularly and most of them are geared toward freshmen. Some examples include the Brower Youth Awards and Coca-Cola Scholars scholarships.
Finding college scholarships for freshmen should be much easier now that you know how and where to look. Using credible sites like these will increase your chance of receiving the best financial aid out there.
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