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Tips for Finding Financial Aid through Private Programs

If you’re trying to figure out how to pay for school, the government is not your only resource for finding financial aid. There are also quite a few private programs out there, ranging from grants and scholarships to privately issued student loans.  Here are some tips to help you expand your options by finding financial aid through private programs.

  1. Do your homework. The Internet is a great resource for finding private programs that may be able to offer you financial assistance for school. If you don’t know where to look, try a third-party website like scholarships.com, which can help you narrow your search to the types of programs for which you are eligible.
  2. Apply early and often for grants and scholarships.  The great thing about grants and scholarships is that they don’t have to be repaid.  Conversely, the problem with grants and scholarships is that there are so many options out there (and so many people applying for them) that finding the right ones for you can be an overwhelming task. The sooner you start researching and applying for them, the more likely you are to get funding from these sources.
  3. Check with your school’s financial aid office. Many schools have in-house scholarships and/or grants for which you might qualify. 
  4. Only take the student loans you need.  Remember, student loans aren’t free money; they have to be repaid at some point, and the more you take now, the longer it will take to pay back when you get out of school. Take care of as much funding as possible through grants, scholarships and personal contribution, and don’t accept more money than you actually need.
  5. Only take private student loans as a last resort.  Financial aid is often available through private programs in the form of private student loans issued by financial organizations and lending institutions.  However, these loans charge a considerably higher interest rate, and taking on too much private debt can hurt you financially in the long run. Make sure you’ve exhausted all other funding options with other private programs before taking private student loans.

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