As college students, we know more than almost anyone that college is EXPENSIVE. College is so expensive that you become accustomed to saying ridiculous things like, "it's only twenty thousand dollars per year!" because in terms of college tuition, $20,000 is actually on the "cheap" side.
My dream college was Notre Dame, and I didn't even apply because I knew that there was no way that I could afford their whopping $59,461 tuition & fees/room & board costs*. It's actually pretty sad, in my opinion, that I feel like IU's $19,882 tuition & fees/room & board costs* are "cheap". But the reality is, for attending a great university, that's a pretty low cost.
Sarah Lawrence, the most expensive college in the United States, charges their students $60,290 every year.*
Keep in mind that this doesn't even factor in textbooks, which are ungodly expensive, transportation, and additional livings costs.
With college being so expensive yet completely necessary to receive a good job once graduated, so many people end up with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt that can take decades to pay off. I don't know about you, but I personally do not whatsoever want to be in that kind of situation. So what can help you out?
There are two ways to receive scholarships and grants; one of them is pretty easy, and the other one requires a lot more time and effort.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is an application through the government to receive no strings attached money from the government. All you have to do is fill out some basic information, where you're going to college, and your parents' tax information from the previous year. They will give you money on a need based standard. That basically means that if your parents make a lot of money, you will receive less money, and if your parents don't make very much money, you receive more money. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT EVERYONE FILLS OUT THE FAFSA. You can potentially receive money for very minimal effort. Also, you can fill it out every year that you're in college, not just the first year. I say that because I used to be under the impression that it was only for first year students. Don't ask me why I thought that, I don't really know.
Here is the link to the FAFSA: https://fafsa.ed.gov/
Scholarships are seriously EVERYWHERE on the internet.
It just takes a lot of time to apply to them because the majority of them are essay based. But if you want it bad enough, it's worth it! My best friend and I spent around 7 hours just sitting next to each other on our own laptops, each filling out loads of scholarship applications over winter break. We also proclaimed Sundays "Scholarship Sundays" so we can dedicate one day out of each week to scholarship searching.
The only thing that stinks about these kinds of scholarships, other than being time consuming, is that there is A LOT of competition. So it's pretty hard to actually win one, let alone enough to pay for your schooling.
But, as a ray of hope for us all, my dad heard on the Dave Ramsey show (basically a talk show where Dave Ramsey, the host, talks about money and the best ways to use your money; he covers everything from saving/investing to real estate to student loans) that a girl filled out 900 some scholarships and won around 50 of them, but it was enough to cover the costs of her schooling for a year. Even though the 900 to 50 ratio seems like a downer, she got a whole year of her school paid off! A WHOLE YEAR! And personally, I think that's worth it.
Think about it in the bigger picture: lets say she saved $20,000. That's $20,000 that she didn't have to take out in loans, which accrue interest over time. Loans for the 2014-2015 school year currently have anywhere from 4-8% interest applied to them, depending on if you're an undergraduate student or a graduate student, and the type of loan that it is. So if you borrow $20,000 with 5% interest and your loan term was 10 years, you would have to pay $212.13 per month, and you would end up paying $25,455.76 total, with $5,455.76 purely in interest. So I feel like it's worth it to put forward a solid effort to search and apply to scholarships!
Here are some links to websites that I personally use in my scholarship search, although there are endless sites available to you.
Last but not least, IU also rewards tons of scholarships through the university every year. All you have to do is fill out some basic info and write a short response to a question, and you're automatically entered in 95 scholarships through the Indiana University Foundation (if they apply to you). Some of the scholarships may require additional information, but a ton of them don't. Here's a link to the website: http://iufoundation.iu.edu/students/scholarships.html
I know that paying for college can be really stressful, so I hope that this helps you and motivates you to find money to pay for your schooling! If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment. Happy Hunting!
*All costs listed were taken from the website of each university and only include tuition & fees and room & board.