Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finding and Applying for Scholarships

There are many types of scholarships out there; you just have to find them. There are three main categories: state scholarships, student-specific scholarships, and unique scholarships. Here is a break down of each type of scholarship and ways in which you may be eligble.

State Scholarships
State scholarships can be both merit- and need-based. Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students who are at a high academic-level, which is based on a combination of GPA, standardized test scores, and other high school academic achievements. Need-based scholarships depend on financial need and your ability to pay for college.

Both merit-and need-based scholarships vary by state. Upon filling out the FAFSA and admission to a particular college, the amount of your scholarship will be determined. There are also many other state scholarships that require a special application and aren't given directly through a particular college. gives a breakdown of state scholarships and also gives a list of scholarships by state.

Student-specific Scholarships
Student-specific scholarships are based on a multitude of characteristics. Scholarships for minorities are the most common. Other student-specific scholarships can be based on anything from a desire to pursue community service to being the first member in your family to attend college.

College Scholarships gives many categories for student-specific scholarships as well as links to specific scholarships within each category.

It is suggested that you utilize your involvement, passions, and future interests when searching for scholarships. There is almost guaranteed to be one out there for you!

Unique Scholarships
There is a plethora of unique scholarships available to students who may have strange qualities, talents, or interests. As surprising as it may sound, there are scholarships for being left handed, duck calling, and a desire to create a new candy. So if you have a unique trait, search the internet and see if you may be eligible for a scholarship.

Check out the College Express list of 45 of the Weirdest College Scholarships.

***TIP: Never pay a website to find scholarships for you. If a scholarship search site is asking for your credit card or bank account number, it isn't a good sign.

To find scholarships, talk to the college's financial aid office, your high school counselor, or use reliable websites such as and

Good luck on your search! If you have any questions, email us at or message us on Facebook!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hidden College Costs and How to Manage Them

As if tuition isn't enough, there are some hidden expenses that come along with post-secondary education. Here are some of the most relevant, non-tuition related costs that college students pay and how you can better factor those into your budget.

  • Books / Supplies
    Most incoming college students don't anticipate the high cost of textbooks because in high school they are free. Well, that's not the case anymore. In face, many college-level books sell for around $100-$200. Don't panic. There are many ways to lower these costs. One way is to buy used books online, which tend to be cheaper than book-store prices. Another way is to rent. If you know you won't need a particular book after you have taken the class, rent it rather than buying it. Rental prices can be almost half the price of a purchased book. Buying an older edition of the book is also cheaper than buying the newest version. Just make sure there are no big differences between the editions and double check the class syllabus to make sure you don't need a particular edition.
    You can also sell your books back to vendors on campus at the end of each semester.
    Amazon and Chegg also offer online buyback programs.
    Aside from books, some professors require other supplies for their classes. Some of these supplies may include interactive computer/phone applications, hand-held clickers (response devices), or subscriptions to newspapers/magazines.
    There are several scholarships available for textbooks and supplies. Some are offered through certain colleges/universities, while others are available through online contests.
    One yearly textbook scholarship contest is: The Akademos/TexbookX Textbook Scholarship Contest,
  • Food
    Sticking to a meal plan can become difficult when you're hungry during hours when the dining hall is closed or if you run out of meal swipes by Saturday. If this is the case, you will probably end up making a trip to campus markets, a nearby grocery store, or restaurants on campus. The costs of food can really add up. My advice is to plan in advance and make a run to the grocery store at the beginning of each month. That way you can get some food to keep in your room at a much lower price than it would be to eat out.
  • Laundry
    The price of laundry can be anywhere from $0.50 to $2.00 per wash or dry. At Ohio University, The price of one wash is $0.75 and one dry is $1.25. These prices can add up if you have multiple loads to do. The best advice I can give is to keep track of all of your quarters and to make sure you are only washing clothes that need to be cleaned (a lot of people tend to just throw clothes in the hamper after trying them on once, which leads to bigger loads and more money).
  • Printing
    Some schools allow a certain amount of free printed pages per semester; however, other schools do charge small fees per printed page. Usually black and white prints are around 5 to 10 cents, whereas a color print will be around 10 to 20 cents. At OU, printing fees are billed directly to your student account, but at other schools printers may accept change. Also at OU, students are able to print for free in their college/major's computer lab. For example, communication studies majors are allowed to print in the Lasher computer lab for free!
  • Transportation
    Transportation costs can fluctuate, depending on whether you commute or not, how far you live from school, and if you don't commute - how often you plan to go home. Also, if you decide to keep your car at school, you will most likely have to pay for a parking pass which can be a big chunk of money. Also look out for meters and correct parking locations. Parking violations result in hefty tickets.
    There are cheaper ways to get around campus without a car. Many students bike to and from class. Also, many schools offer bus systems that go to nearby grocery stores or plazas. Don't forget you can always carpool as well. 
  • Dorm Necessities
    Twin XL bedding, bed-loft, mini fridge, microwave, carpet, and vacuum may be among your list of things to buy for your dorm room. While it is important to make your dorm room feel "homey" and to utilize space, you must be aware of the high prices of futons, TVs, coffee machines, and other items that you may not necessarily need. 
  • Organization Fees
    Members of particular clubs and organizations have to pay fees to be considered "active." Sororities and fraternities tend to fall on the higher end of the cost-spectrum. Fees for sororities and fraternities vary greatly among different universities, but on average they range anywhere from $200-$1,000 a semester. Club sports also tend to be a bit expensive, but it depends on the school and the sport. Also, smaller clubs (i.e. communications club) have smaller fees like $30 a semester or $50 a year. 
  • EntertainmentCollege isn't just all work and no play. There is always something fun going on around campus for students to hang out and get involved. There are sporting events, movies, plays, comedians, art shows, and so much more. Some of these events charge entrance fees, so keep that in mind.
If you have any questions, feel free to email us at or message us on Facebook!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Understanding Financial Aid and FAFSA

Financial aid is any money that the government or other organizations give or lend to students to help them afford college. While the process may seem intimidating, it is well worth it in the end. Here we will discuss the basics of financial aid and how to go about applying. 

To begin, there are four different types of financial aid. They are:
  • Scholarships
    Scholarships are a type of "gift aid," meaning that they do not have to be paid back. Scholarships are merit-based, meaning they are awarded based on a multitude of things such as; high academic or athletic ability, volunteer work, religion or ethnicity, and many others.
    One example of a merit-based scholarship at Ohio University is the OHIO Achievement Scholarship, which is given to students based on high school performance and standardized tests.
    Another scholarship example is the OHIO Promise Scholarship, which is awarded to students from a variety of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Grants
    Another type of gift aid are grants. Grants are need-based, meaning are given to students who are in need of financial help. Grants are given either from federal, state, private, or institutional funds. The FAFSA (which we will discuss later) must be filled out to be eligible for grants.
    The Pell Grant is an example of a federal grant that is given to students based on financial need, school tuition, enrollment status, and whether the student attends school for a full year or not.
  • Loans
    Unlike scholarships and grants, loans are money temporarily given to students that will later need to be paid back. Most loan repayments don't go into effect until after graduation; however all loans have interest rates, meaning the amount you pay back will be a bit more than the amount you borrowed in the first place.
    It is especially important to be cautious when taking out loans. Make sure to only borrow as much as you need. Loans can be seen as a quality investment as long as you are able to pay them off.
    There are two main types of loans: federal and private.
    Federal student loans are made by the federal government, which requires filling out the FAFSA.
    Private loans are made by lenders such as banks, schools, or state agencies.
    Check out this 
    link to learn the many differences between federal and private student loans.
  • Work-study/employment
    Work-study provides part-time jobs on or off campus to students with financial need. The program typically encourages work related to the student's focus of study. To find out if your school provides work-study programs and how to apply, stop into the financial aid office or look on the school’s website.
    Regular employment is typically available for all students, whether they are in need of financial assistance or not. 
Now let's talk about your outlet to financial aid: FAFSA (FREE Application for Federal Student Aid).
  • Who
    Who can fill out the FAFSA? Anyone! In fact, if you don't fill out the FAFSA, you could potentially be missing out being eligible for financial aid.
    Check out this article, 
    "Myths About Financial Aid" to get a better understanding of the realities of who receives financial aid.
  • What
    What exactly is the FAFSA? It is a form that is used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine a family's need based on income, assets, and other information which you will provide on the form.
  • Where
    Where do I go to fill out the FAFSA? The fastest way is online via You can also download the PDF and fill it out on paper or ask a financial aid adviser at school if they have paper copies. Don’t forget, it’s free to fill it out!
  • When
    When do I need to fill it out by? FAFSA usually becomes available in early January each year. It's important to fill out the form as soon as possible so you don't run the risk on missing out on any aid. Typically schools begin making aid decisions in March, which means FAFSA should be done no later than the second or third week in February.
    To get an early estimate of your financial aid, check out the 

Federal Student Aid is also a great website that goes into detail about all of the different types of aid available to students and how to begin the application process. 

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, email us at or message us on Facebook!