College Climb

Navigate your way to scholarship money to fund your child's education

want to see minorities get ahead. They will hide things, simply because they don’t want your child to have as much [opportunity] as others.” So it’s up to you to develop a relationship with your child’s high school counselor early on.

Time is another important element where scholarship applications are concerned. Randy, who maintained a 3.3 GPA and scored 1080 on the SAT, began researching scholarship opportunities at the beginning of his senior year. Some experts say that was almost too late. “A lot of children start in the 11th and 12th grade,” says James. He also states that students with a 3.5 GPA and a 1200 SAT score can receive a “free ride” to the more than $30,000 over four years that Prairie View charges for on-campus, out-of-state students. By gathering information by the beginning of the sophomore year, students will be able to do more thorough research and be better advised about the opportunities at the college of their choice.

Regardless of which scholarships your child chooses to apply for, make sure applications are sent at least two weeks before the due date. All forms must be smudge-proof and the essay well written because “it’s the most important part of the application,” says Vuturo. “It’s your best opportunity to show how you think, what you believe and how wel
l you write and communicate.”

Once you’ve looked into the private resources, turn to the government. The U.S. Department of Education delegates $50 billion a year toward public and private schools of higher education. This assistance can come in the form of grants or self-help aid. Under the Stafford Loan Program, first-year full-time undergraduates can receive up to $2,625 a year if they’re classified as dependent students, and $6,625 if they’re independent students, at up to 8.25% interest. Perkins Loan recipients can borrow $3,000 per year at 5% interest.

To determine eligibility for government financial aid, students must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) after January 1 of their senior year in high school. The FAFSA, which determines how much federal aid applicants will receive, is best completed after tax returns are done because the 1040 form is used to substantiate the figures about income, assets and benefits. To receive the FAFSA, call 800-433-3243 or download it at

Once the FAFSA is submitted, a SAR (Student Aid Report) is sent to the applicant. This confirms information from the FAFSA and provides the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. The EFC is the amount of money you and your child are expected to contribute to the cost of education. Various criteria-taxable and nontaxable income, assets (i.e., checking accounts), benefits (i.e., alimony payments) and family size-are taken into account to determine the amount a family can pay. For example, the Jameses’ EFC is $3,000. This is based on their four-member household (which includes Randy’s younger sister) and was calculated using such criteria as the combined salaries of Randy’s parents ($45,900) and Randy’s salary from his summer job-$1,295.

Gift aid is

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