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Know where to dig for scholarships and loans

Money's tight.

No doubt about that in this economy.

But there are funds out there for the college-bound student who's willing to look. High school guidance offices are filled with a wealth of helpful information and reputable scholarship search engines.

Michele Chamberlin, the career specialist at J.W. Mitchell High School, offers the following advice to those willing to dig in and do some research:

Familiarize yourself with the several forms of financial aid available: grants, scholarships and work study (money that doesn't have to be repaid) and student loans (which must be repaid). Don't assume you do not qualify for grants, scholarships, work study, loans from the federal and state level, as well as scholarships from colleges and private organizations. Thousands of dollars of free money go unclaimed each year.

Seniors applying for admission to colleges or universities should request a financial aid package (if available). Check with the school's financial aid office, as many admission applications are also used as the scholarship application.

Local scholarships are also available for Pasco County students. The application process begins in December. Students should check with the scholarship coordinators at their respective schools or visit www.pascoeducationfoundation.org.

Get an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid: visit www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov and complete the FAFSA4caster.

Parents should start to get their 2008 income tax information together as early as possible, as funds are distributed first-come, first served. The FAFSA process opens for the class of 2009 seniors in January.

Attend your school's Financial Aid Night — and bring your parents.

Be aware of deadlines and apply early! (Note: Juniors should start researching now for scholarship opportunities, as deadlines for many are in the spring of 2009.)

Get organized: Keep all of your financial aid documents in one place and keep copies of everything you submit.

>>Fast facts

Where to look

Scholarship funds are available; you just have to be proactive. Here are some helpful Web sites:

• www.offtocollege.com

• www.fastweb.com

• www.careersandcolleges.com

• www.usnews.com/sections/

business/paying-for-college

• www.actstudent.org/finaid/

apply.html

• www.fafsa.ed.gov

• apps.collegeboard.com/fincalc/ep/wizard-home.jsp

•www.facts.org

Know where to dig for scholarships and loans 10/21/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 10:36pm]

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