Avoid college tuition sticker shock

Avoid college tuition sticker shock

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Sticker shock. That's exactly what a lot of parents across the country are feeling as they study the financial aid package being offered to their prospective college freshman. For that reason, if you are part of the sticker shock crowd, you'll want to look in every nook and cranny you can for the scholarship dollars.

Normally, you'd expect your high school counselor to help you find grant money, but given that the ratio of counselors in any given school is typically 500 to 1, you're best off scouring the field yourself. Where to start? Rob Franek, Princeton Review Vice President, says that the biggest sources of free money for college students are federal government and institutional grants, which together comprise 79 percent of all the grant dollars out there. But don't ignore grants given out by employers and states, which make up 21 percent of the free money available.  Don't forget the local Lion's Club and your church.

Your child will be competing with fewer people for those dollars, even if the grants are small.  And, then there are off beat scholarships, like the ones for left handers, which are worth searching out.

The biggest bucket of money, no doubt, is doled out by the schools themselves to lure the students they really want to attend. You put your name in the hopper for this money by filling out the FAFSA – that's the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

The good news is this – according to Franek – just a third of college students pay the full sticker price for college. By checking out websites like scholarships.com, you can bring down your total costs of college!

Interact with Gerri on Twitter @GerriWillisFBN and Facebook for more information, or to voice your concerns and questions.

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