According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost to an undergraduate for tuition, fees and room and board at a four-year institution was $19,362 during the 2007-2008 school year [source: NCES]. That's just for one year's education. Many students must turn to some form of financial aid to afford college.
If there were only one type of financial aid, applying might be easy. Perhaps you'd walk into the financial aid office, fill out a few forms, write an essay and they'd cut you a check. But there are many types of financial aid. Even a quick glance at the variety of scholarships available makes it clear that no two options are exactly the same.
The financial aid application process can be overwhelming. Should you apply for scholarships? Would a grant be a better option? What about student loans? With all the options, paperwork and competition for every dollar available, it's easy to become discouraged. But with the right focus and effort, you can improve your chances to get the money you need to go to school.
We've put together five tips, listed in no particular order, that can help you find financial aid. It all begins with a little research.