Scholarships, Financial Aid and Ways to Reduce College Costs
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I. Fee Waivers for College Applications and Testing
Colleges charge a fee to submit an admissions application and there are fees associated with taking the ACT and SAT academic tests that most colleges require. But these fees can be waived based on your family’s income. As a rule of thumb, if you qualify for free or reduced lunches, you will qualify for these fee waivers.
You can apply for fee waivers for your college applications by going to a site operated by the National Association of College Application Counselors. NACAC Request for Application Fee Waiver Form
Here are two links where you can check on fee waivers for testing:
II. Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA )
It is important you and your parents or guardian learn how to fill out the FAFSA. It is required by all schools in awarding federal student aid and the information on the application is also used when you apply for other scholarship opportunities. If you apply for and receive tuition reimbursement from the Oklahoma’s Promise program, you must file the FAFSA with updated family income information after each year you are in college to maintain your tuition payment. So it is important you learn to fill out this form first before you start to look for any type of scholarship or financial aid. We have the steps listed below and you can also view this FAFSA Instructional Video.
The first step is to apply for an FSA ID, which serves as an electronic signature. You can find a link to obtain an FSA ID through the Federal Student Aid website. To create a unique ID, you will need your Social Security number, date of birth and name as it appears on official documents.
Once you have your ID, you can fill out the online FAFSA application or complete a PDF FAFSA – a paper version that can be printed and filled out manually or filled in on the screen prior to printing and mailing.
The FAFSA asks for information about family income, assets and demographic factors, such as family size and number of children enrolled in college at the same time. This information is used to calculate the expected family contribution, often referred to as EFC, which determines eligibility for federal student aid. For instance, if the EFC is zero, then the student will most likely qualify for a Pell Grant – a federal award based on financial need.
Here is a list of a paperwork needed to complete the FAFSA. Students will need their Social Security number, driver’s license number or state ID, tax information, records of untaxed income, current bank statements and investments – if any – along with the list of schools where they are interested in attending. Parents will need their tax information, records of untaxed income, net-worth and investment information and current bank statements.
The FAFSA uses tax information from tax returns from two years ago. For example, A family completing the FAFSA for the 2019-2020 academic year, for instance, will use the 2017 tax return. The use of verified tax returns from the prior years reduces the need to use estimates on the form.
The Deadline for state aid from the State of Oklahoma is in June. But Oklahoma distributes awards on a first-come, first-served basis. It really pays to file the FAFSA close to the Oct. 1 release date.
After submitting the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR. The SAR is a summary of the FAFSA data submitted, so review it carefully for any errors. Once you submit it, you can always later go back in and update your FAFSA.
If the form is filled out correctly and they do not ask for more information, you will also receive your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. This number is the major “driving factor” in determining financial aid eligibility and the structure of the financial aid award. The lower the number the more aide you will receive. The Department of Education sends this report via email or postal mail.
If you need help or have questions about the FAFSA, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center, known as the FSAIC, which provides support on behalf of the Department of Education at 800-433-3243, or 800-730-8913 for applicants who are hearing impaired. Questions can also be submitted via email or web chat.
III. Types of Financial Aid
There are several types of financial aid; these include grants, scholarships, work-study and federal or private loans. YPNG’s wants to help you identify and apply for all the scholarships and grants that are available so that you can minimize or avoid taking out student loans to finance your education.
You will be applying for scholarships between you Junior and Senior year. But begin researching early in your high school career so you can locate the most scholarship possibilities.
You can learn about the different types of scholarships in several ways and remember that you don’t have to pay to find scholarships or other financial aid. Try these free sources of information about scholarships:
- The Federal TRiO Programs (TRiO) are federal outreach and student services programs in the United States designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are administered, funded, and implemented by the United States Department of Education. TRiO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. Here is were you can learn more about this program:
the financial aid office at a college or career school
a high school counselor
the U.S. Department of Labor’s FREE scholarship search tool
your state grant agency
foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups
organizations (including professional associations) related to your field of interest
your employer or your parents’ employers
IV. Financial Aid Programs Specifically for Oklahoma Students
1. Oklahoma’s Promise is a program started by our state legislature in 1992 that is expected to pay college tuition for nearly 18,000 students attending Oklahoma colleges in 2018-19. The new family income limit for students applying in 2017-18 is $55,000, and will increase to $60,000 in 2021-22. These new income levels mean about half of you who want to go to college may qualify. Students can apply and know if they are accepted during their eighth, ninth or tenth grade years.
Must be an Oklahoma resident.
Must enroll in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade.
Must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in high school and stay out of trouble.
Must complete high school courses that meet the State Regents’ requirements for college admission, the eligibility requirements for Oklahoma’s Promise and the requirements for the college preparatory/work-ready curriculum for Oklahoma high school graduation. Here is a link for the courses the Regents require you to take for Oklahoma’ s Promise and for admission to Oklahoma Colleges on the website OK Start.org
- A FAFSA application must be filed after each year you are in college to maintain your tuition payments.
2. Tulsa Achieves is a funding program that provides up to 100 percent of tuition and fees to eligible Tulsa County residents who are graduating high school seniors and enroll at Tulsa Community College the fall after they graduate.
The program pays for up to 63 college credit hours or up to three years of college, whichever comes first. Every high school graduate living in Tulsa County, including public, private or home-schooled students, with a 2.0 GPA or higher grade point average is eligible.
To be eligible for Tulsa Achieves, you must:
- Reside in Tulsa County while in high school and maintain Tulsa County residency while in the program
- Apply to Tulsa Achieves as a high school senior
- Graduate from a public or private high school, or home school
- Graduate High School with at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale
- Be a U.S. Citizen or Legal resident of the U.S.
There are other eligibility requirements be accepted and to maintain your eligibility while you are going to TCC. You will see that that one of these requirements is filing a FAFSA when you apply for the program and each year to maintain your eligibility just like the Oklahoma’s Promise program and other scholarships and grants based on family income.
3. The Oklahoma Academic Scholars Program, established by the state Legislature and governor in 1988 and operated by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, provides scholarships to academically outstanding students who attend an Oklahoma college or university.
Academic Scholars receive a scholarship to help cover the cost of room, board, tuition, books and incidental fees for up to eight semesters. The actual value of the scholarship varies based on the institution the scholar chooses to attend.
To be eligible you must have and ACT score above 135. You can also be nominated for one of these scholarships by the Oklahoma institution you want to attend. This scholarship enables 11 participating public universities to provide up to four years of scholarship support to academically-promising Oklahoma students enrolled in a baccalaureate program.
4. The Regional Universities Baccalaureate Scholarships These scholarships enables 11 participating public universities to provide up to four years of scholarship support to academically-promising Oklahoma students enrolled in a baccalaureate program.Participating universities include:
Cameron University, East Central University, Langston University, Northeastern State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Rogers State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma, and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
Applicants must be Oklahoma residents.
Applicants must meet one of the following criteria defined below:
A. Have an ACT composite score of at least 30 (Only ACT test scores from tests administered on national test dates will be considered for admission to the program.) OR
B. Be a National Merit Semifinalist or Commended Student.
The annual award amount is $3,000 and a resident tuition waiver from the institution. The scholarship is available for up to eight semesters of study in a baccalaureate program at a regional university or until the student is granted a baccalaureate degree, whichever occurs first. The scholarship award may be used only at the university making the award; it is not portable.
5. The Oklahoma College Grant Data Base lists a number of links to a wide variety of grants offered the both the Federal Government and Oklahoma’s state government. In addition, there are many career specific grans for careers ranging from profession like engineering, law, nursing, medical school, teaching and the arts. There are also listings for grants for minorities and other groups like single mothers, disabled students and first generation college students.
6. Company and Foundation Scholarships in Oklahoma This website gives a list of thirty five scholarships for Oklahoma high school students given by companies and foundations in our state. Most of them are career specific and are related to the company or individual who established the scholarship. For example, the scholarships established by former Oklahoma Governor George Neigh is for students interested in going into careers in public service. There are scholarships by professional associations that include things like engineering, chiropractors and organizations like Goodwill Industries that provides scholarships for disabled students. There are a number of other companies throughout the state that provide scholarships like these to students who are interested in careers associated with their companies. One example would be Tractor Supply that offers scholarships to students pursuing a degree in any field of agriculture at Oklahoma State.
7. Oklahoma High School Students who have been in foster care can apply for a tuition waiver. Under the Independent Living Act, the Oklahoma State Regents offers this tuition waiver for those Oklahoma students previously in foster care who are pursuing college degrees full-time
V. Improve Your Scholarship Hunt With Alternative Search Engines
Zinch was created by college students, and is good at knowing what future college students need. It is a unique resource to turn to and includes more than $1 billion in scholarships.Creating a student profile on Zinch allows you to learn about, interact with and be recruited by hundreds of colleges and universities around the world
ScholarshipExperts.com was created in 2000 by a group of parents, education professionals and students as a way to get claims to get accurate and current scholarship information. In order to get tailored results, you need to create a user profile. The inclusion of instant access to scholarship applications right from the website is one unique feature of ScholarshipExperts. If an application is not available electronically, you can request it be mailed to you.
Peterson’s college scholarship search was founded in the 1960s. The company offers free online test prep, school searches and career tools, as well as a database of scholarships from 5,000 providers, in addition to the books and services it sells. Their website is straightforward and easy to use. Filling out a very short survey allows you to adjust the filters as you go, which gives you more control than sites that require extensive profiles to get started.
Unigo has plenty to offer beyond just scholarships, including jobs, internships, college profiles and rankings, articles and a textbook store. When it comes to scholarships, the site offers both profile-based matching as well as easy-to-browse categories.Perhaps best of all is its user-friendly interface, which is somewhat reminiscent of a photo-sharing site. It makes finding scholarships simple.
Fastweb, a subsidiary of Monster, hosts more than 1.5 million scholarships that amount to more than $3.4 billion dollars. You have to fill out a profile to get started. But the profile helps match you with scholarships most likely to suit your needs, and the sign-up process is relatively painless.
Cappex has a large scholarship database of more than $11 Billion scholarships. Registering can be time consuming, but you’ll get personalized results. Cappex sets itself apart with its “What Are My Chances” tool, which attempts to calculate the odds that you’ll get into a certain college before you apply.
The College Board offers much more than an extensive list of scholarships. It also has test prep, articles and college search tools, among others. And its “scholarships, other financial aid and internships from more than 2,200 programs” totals nearly $6 billion. Added bonus: While you’re perusing the site you can prepare for the SAT!
Niche is one of the easiest sites to navigate. It’s neatly organized into categories that make it simple to start finding and applying for scholarships. You can browse by categories – including, but not limited to, sports, interest area, career and major. Niche is a simple and powerful resource.
Collegene thas an impressive number of scholarships. You can search by keyword or create a personalized profile to get filtered results. From there, you can create, manage and save lists that you can return to later. Scholarships are listed by their award amounts, with the highest payout listed first.
VI. Community Foundation Scholarships
Community foundations are public charities whose goal is to improve the lives of citizens who reside in a particular geographic region. To achieve this goal, they strive to build permanent funds used for various purposes. Scholarships are often included in the donors’ choice of investments. Scholarships available through a community foundation are considered to be ‘local,’ which means there aren’t as many contenders for the prize as those offered nationally, improving your chances of receiving an award. Here are the websites for a few community foundations across the state:
VII. How Scholarships are Paid
You can get your scholarship money in different ways. The money might go directly to your college, where it will be applied to any tuition, fees, or other amounts you owe, and then any leftover funds given to you. Or it might be sent directly to you in a check. The scholarship provider should tell you what to expect when it informs you that you’ve been awarded the scholarship.
VIII. Other Ways to Help Pay for College or Reduce Costs
- Take Advanced Placement Courses in High School that give you college credit to reduce the number of college credits you have to pay for. Many high schools will allow students to take advanced placement courses through a local community college. Aps are also taught in many high schools. Typically you will have to take an AP exam and get a high enough score that meets the college’s AP policies to get college credit More than 2.6 million high school students took 4.7 million AP exams in 2016 – double the number of students and tests taken 10 years ago, according to the College Board, the organization that administers the exam. 2.
- Several YPNG Mentors went to college for two years at their local community college. Transfer pathways, often developed by private and public institutions, are intended to help students transfer from a two – to a four-year college without losing valuable credits earned at the associate level.
- Work/study programs are available at OU and OSU where you work part time ( in the range of 12 to 15 hours per week ) and can earn enough to pay for your room and board. At OU, these fees amount to $11,000, which represents about half of the cost of going to OU and living on campus for an academic year.
Most four-year colleges and universities in Oklahoma admit transfer students from other colleges and community colleges like TCC . Transferring can have financial implications if credits are lost in the transfer. So check and make sure if the program at the four year college you choose will transfer your credits before you enroll. TCC works closely with OU, OSU and NEO to make sure the majority of TCC classes will transfer to these schools. But make sure you are taking those classes when you sign up so you maximize the number of credits the college where you intend to get a four year degree will accept so you do not have to retake them later.
IX. Childcare in College
More than a quarter of undergraduates in the U.S. – about 4.8 million students – are raising dependent children, according to the most recent data published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research .Federal funds are available to support child care programs at two-year and four-year colleges. Congress recently tripled the funding authorized for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program, known as CCAMPIS. The program provides grant awards on four-year cycles to two-year and four-year colleges that provide on-campus child care. With the federal spending package that passed in March, Congress increased the Department of Education’s annual funding for the program from $15 million to $50 million.
X. Preparing a College Budget
Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM) has a personal budgeting tool that shows you how to do a budget on what it will cost you to attend college including living expenses. It is a good tool to use no matter what college you plan on attending.