When searching for last minute grants for college you may discover that you waited too long to submit an application. Many grants are due nine months to a year before the semester you plan to use the grant money. So if you're a high school senior just now looking for free money, you may need to think outside the box to tap into last minute tuition assistance.
Complete the FAFSA
First and foremost submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. Colleges can disperse grant and scholarship awards anytime during the year. Completing the FAFSA soon after the application opens on October 1 can be advantageous. However, last minute loans, grants and scholarships can become available in later months due to students not using grants awarded to them.
Visit Your School Counselor
Schedule an appointment with your school counselor. High school counselors and college counselors are happy to help students looking for financial aid. Most of them have helped other students identify last minute grants and scholarships. Write down their pointers for finding potential funding resources.
Seek Private Last Minute Scholarships
Pursue private grants and scholarships from companies and individuals. Private foundations may have the ability to be more lenient in deciding when to award funding. Some private donors have such stringent eligibility criteria that they are not able to find a qualified applicant every year. Therefore, if you meet the criteria you may still have a reasonable chance at getting college funding through such nongovernment sources. You may even be able to talk family members and family friends that have business into give you a scholarship or a low interest loan.
Consider Government Loans
You may want to consider government loans with flexible repayment plans as a funding source for college. Last minute loans are often available to those who qualify for financial aid. College graduates tend to earn a lot more then non college grads so the investment in the long run can be considerable. Also, if your major involves public service such as teaching in certain areas, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness after completing a few years in the profession. But keep in mind that loan debt can be a considerable burden that you may trouble repaying. Borrow only the minimum amount you need.
Prepare for Next Year
Applying for grants and scholarships for the upcoming year may help you uncover great funding ideas for next year. Set a side a folder to keep track of this information. Make it a lesson learned, and be one of the first students to sign up for grants and scholarships the following year. While some times it pays to be late in signing up, it also true that the early bird really does get the best worms.