How to Dull the Sting of Increasing Tuition Costs

by Monica Wheeler

At a time when unemployment is high, personal income is flat, and college-level education is a requirement for most well-paying jobs, public colleges continue to become less affordable for students and families.

According to a recent report on college affordability from The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, state spending for colleges and universities has dropped sharply. The result ? a higher cost for higher education.

Despite serious increases, few states have invested significant financial aid to offset the cost while some have actually decreased student grant aid spending. Today's families are left to shoulder the worst public, higher education fiscal news in a decade.

However, there is money available for the diligent. Scholarships and grants offered through the private sector are available to help pay increasing tuition cost. Awards, need and merit based, are usually categorized by geographic location, special interest, or major career fields. Since criteria are specific, finding the right award can be tedious- but considering the current economic recession, well worth the effort.

Here's how to begin a productive grant and scholarship search:

1. Online Search-The Internet has emerged as a key source of scholarship information. The following are a handful of helpful sites.'s Scholarship Directory has $1.6 million worth of scholarships and is quickly growing. It is a free scholarship directory and requires no registration. Students can search for scholarships in multiple ways including keywords, courses, deadline, courses, who it is open to and the scholarship amount. Wired Scholar has one of the internet's largest databases of financial aid. FastWeb allows you to search 600,000 scholarships worth over $1 billion dollars. (Update: no Longer Available As of March 1, 2012) The BrokeScholar database matches student profiles with more than 900,000 scholarships worth over $3 billion to find the most relevant and obtainable opportunities. They also feature a personalized deadline calendar. The College Board is a trusted source that offers a search with 2,000 scholarships, internships, and loan programs

2. Public and School Libraries-While you want to use the Internet for searches; there is a lot of competition. Got to local libraries and check with the reference desk for institutional, and private student aid scholarship directories. Most of the awards listed are duplicated online, but not all. By investing time to thumb through the telephone-directory-sized books you may find one or two the competition will miss.

3. Local Organizations -There is a better chance of winning money from local organizations such as churches, clubs, community groups, and unions since fewer students are likely to apply. Look for local chapters of larger, national organizations that often give money to students living in certain areas.

4. Place of Employment-Employers may also offer grants and scholarships. Inquire at your personnel office. Dependent students should ask their parent or legal guardian to check the availability of awards.

5. Announcements -Keep your eyes open. Take time to read bulletin boards, posters, and articles in newspapers for competition announcements. Some scholarships are episodic and may occur only once.

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About the Author

Monica Wheeler is a national- award- winning freelance writer, who has helped thousands of parents and students prepare for university admissions. For ?35 Practical Ways to Get Money for College? visit

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