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5 Little-Known Secrets to Getting More Gift Aid

Though tuition is increasing each year, there are ways you can obtain funds to afford it. These five tricks could help you receive more free money for college!

Do you want to pursue a higher education but don't have the funds to do so? Don't worry—there might be a solution. Though college tuition is increasing each year, there are many ways you can afford college and obtain funds that you don't have to pay back. Read on for five awesome tricks that could help you receive more gift aid.

1. You can appeal your financial aid award package

Many students accept their financial aid package while being unhappy about the amount of aid they’ll be receiving. That’s where the financial aid appeal letter comes in. A financial aid appeal letter is your way of asking your school’s financial aid office to reconsider their decision about your financial aid. Even if you have accepted your financial aid award, you still can appeal it. You could write an appeal letter if your family’s income changed after you filed the FAFSA, or if your financial aid was affected by bad grades but you have a good excuse for the bad grades. There are many situations that could result in the change or denial of your financial aid. You should clearly explain your position in your letter, take responsibility (if it’s your fault), and support your case with evidence. Keep in mind that sending an appeal letter does not guarantee that you will receive more financial aid; that decision is totally up to your school.

Related: How to Appeal Your College Financial Aid Package

2. Look for grants in unexpected places

There are grants from the federal government, state government, your college or career school, and private or nonprofit organizations. What kinds of federal grants are available? If you fill out the FAFSA, you might be eligible to qualify for the Federal Pell Grant. There's a long list of others, including the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. All you have to do is look!

3. There are scholarships for literally everything!

You could get a scholarship just for being a left-handed student. Isn’t that crazy? Scholarships are awards of free financial aid that students can use to further their education. They can be merit or need based depending on your application and situation. There are thousands of scholarships of all sorts out there, including scholarships for military families. You can obtain scholarships by giving the sponsor what it wants, looking for essay contests, and more. And you should apply to every scholarship that you’re eligible for. 

Related: How to Find Scholarships in Hidden Places

4. Fill out the FAFSA even if you don’t think you’ll get aid

Though you might think you don’t need to file the FAFSA because your family’s income is too high, you’re wrong. Filling out the FAFSA provides your school, private scholarships, and the government with your income information to determine if you qualify for other forms of financial aid such as federal loans. You can file it starting on October 1, so be sure to fill it out on or as close to that day as possible every year you are in college, as federal aid is first come, first served.

5. Crowdfunding for aid is a thing

Many students are now using crowdfunding to cover their tuition costs. Crowdfunding is a form of fundraising where students make campaigns to ask their friends, relatives, and communities to invest in their future, and it’s often used as an alternative to taking out loans. How can you create a crowdfunding campaign? The process is simple: decide how much money you need to raise, choose a crowdfunding platform, set up a campaign, and ask people to donate. Many students use GoFundMe and Indiegogo to advertise their crowdfunding campaigns. Unlike student loans, the money you raise on crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe will be interest-free and does not need to be paid back. If your story goes viral, you have the potential to attract donations from strangers as word spreads out. 

Related: 6 Ways for Students to Independently Pay for College

Two-thirds of full-time students attend college with the help of some form of financial aid, whether it’s grants, scholarships, or federal loans. There are tons of ways you can get funds for your education, so why not give it a shot? 

Search for more scholarships to help pay for college using our Scholarship Search tool.

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