Parents — do you REALLY know how much money you’ll need for your child’s college education?
High school upper class students — have you done your homework and researched scholarships, grants, financial aid and low-cost college loans?
If you are a college-bound student or the parent of one, you should be looking into financial resources available for college. There are more opportunities for grants and scholarships than you can imagine, and learning about many of them, as well as how to secure financial aid, is just a mouse click away. Don’t put it off. Due dates vary, but most applications for grants and scholarships are due early in the year.
Sign on for SWRNN’s daily newsletter to get all the latest news and information
The estimated cost to attend any college will be posted on the school’s website, so families can know in advance roughly what they will need. To get you started, here’s an estimate of the total annual college costs (tuition, housing, food, books, gas - everything), according to California State University San Marcos:
- Community colleges: $11,052‐ $17,442
- California state universities (CSU): $16,469 ‐ $23,561
- University of California colleges (UC): $23,400 ‐ $31,200
- Private colleges: $40,291 ‐ $45,901 (* many offer grants and financial aid)
The first place to start looking for resources is your high school counseling or career office. High schools also offer financial aid and scholarship workshops for students and families.
The next FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Financial Aid Night at Great Oak High School in Temecula is Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. in the library computer lab.
Temecula Valley High’s FAFSA Workshop for Students and Parents is at 6 p.m. on Jan. 31 in the TVHS library. If you missed an evening workshop at your high school, stop by one of these upcoming events where families will learn how to maximize the amount of financial aid they are eligible to receive. College and high school counselors will help students and parents with the FAFSA application process. If you can, bring: a 2012 W-2 form or pay stubs from December, the parents’ and student’s social security card, a driver’s license, records of income earned, 2012 federal income tax records and current bank statements.
There are scores of places to look for grants or college scholarships, including employers and employee labor unions; banks and financial institutions; grocery store chains and businesses; local service clubs like Rotary, Elks and the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; and many, many others.
Remember: Any scholarship granting organization that asks for money or payment from an applicant is not legitimate! Also, be careful about who you give personal information to.
New scholarships come up throughout the year, with many new ones opening up in January, February and March. There is a comprehensive list on Temecula’s Great Oak High School website. Go to the link for counseling, then go to the link for “scholarship database” to view a huge listing of dozens of scholarship-granting organizations.
Also visit the website of the Citizen Scholarship Foundation of Temecula. This local organization offers various scholarships to students with at least a 3.0 grade point average.
For more information, here are 10 helpful websites to bookmark on your computer:
Student Aid: The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs, the largest source of student aid in America. The three most common types of aid are grants, loans, and work-study programs. This site provides information about all three.
FAFSA: This website of the U.S. Department of Education also contains information about federal student aid and provides applications online. FAFSA awards federal loans and grants and applications are due March 2 for priority deadline. Applicants have to re-submit a grant application each year for spring and fall semesters. Every student is offered a federal loan even if they don’t quality for grants, which are need-based.
CSAC: The California Student Aid Commission.
CSU Mentor: Learn about the California State University system and plan for college.
FastWeb.com: This scholarship search service and online scholarship database offers tips on getting financial aid. Students can fill out personal information forms and receive customized packets of scholarship applications geared toward their interests. Loan tips also available.
Finaid.org: FinAid.org, an Internet guide to student financial aid, offers information about scholarships, loan programs, ROTC assistance for military education, and prepaid college tuition savings plans.
Uncf.org: The United Negro College Fund provides African-American students with scholarship and internship information. It provides financial aid to students, and increases access to technology for students and faculty at historically black universities.
HSF.net: The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is the largest scholarship-granting organization in the United States for Latinos. This site offers scholarship and internship information for Hispanics and Latinos from all communities.
Military Connection: For military families and veterans.
CollegeBoard.com: The non-profit College Board is a valuable source of information about college, scholarships, financial aid and related topics.
Finally, if you just want to talk to someone at a local college, feel free to visit the Financial Aid and Scholarship office at CSU San Marcos. Call the office at 760-750-4850 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Stop by any time to talk to someone, no appointment is necessary. The office is located on the third floor of Craven Hall.
Amy Bentley is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.