Grants & Scholarships

Scholarships = Free Money

College Scholarships are usually offered to students who meet certain requirements and they’re not always just for kids who are academically gifted.  They may be given to students who have strong academic or athletic skills, are members of a specific ethnic group, or belong to a church or civic-based organization.  Researching the thousands of private scholarships that are offered can take some time, but the effort may be well worth it. There are a variety of free services that offer up lists of academic scholarships, including this one hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor that contains more than 7,000 scholarships.

List of Scholarships


Many grants for college are need-based. Need-based grants are awarded based on your family’s economic situation. To figure out your financial need, most schools consider your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is a number used by your school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

There are merit-based college grants, too. Merit-based grants are awarded to students who demonstrate high levels of academic achievement, a commitment to community service, or excellent leadership skills. To find merit-based grants for college, start by doing an online search for college grants in your home state.

Once you’ve looked for scholarships and grants then explore federal student loans and finally consider a responsible private student loan or federal parent PLUS loan to cover the rest.  When borrowing students and families should evaluate all anticipated monthly loan payments, and how much the student expects to earn in the future, before considering a private student loan.

If it is determined that borrowing beyond the amount in your award is necessary, borrow only what you need and not what you desire. Remember, you have four years of undergraduate schooling. Pace yourself. You are expected to repay your loan plus interest. Repaying your loan on time will help you establish a good credit rating. It is also very important that you avoid all forms of credit card debt. Acquiring credit card debt is not necessary to establish a good credit rating, and it may be detrimental to your financial health.

Explore your anticipated career and the typical first-year salary for that profession. While not a steadfast rule, consensus is that the monthly repayment of all undergraduate loans should not exceed eight percent of future gross monthly income. At a debt level of $20,000, your yearly future gross income should be around $32,000 to be within these guidelines. The financial aid office and student accounts can assist you in loan counseling.

For information about Wisconsin’s GI Bill, Federal GI Bill and other grant opportunities for Veterans please visit the State of Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA): Providing education benefits to those who have served, as well as to their family members.