Cedar Education Lending Suggests Several Steps to Increase a Student's Access to Financial Aid

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Many college students want scholarships but the severe shortage of them in 2012 means only about 50% of students can expect free money.

Many college students want scholarships but the severe shortage of them in 2012 means only about 50% of students can expect free money. "That means many students whose parents cannot afford the cost of tuition will have to exhaust all federal loan options and even turn to private student loans," according to Harvey Berkey, COO of Cedar Education Lending.

There are several steps proactive students can take to improve their odds of receiving a scholarship. Demographically, some public colleges in areas with few students recruit students from other regions. The 18-year old population in the Midwest and Northeast regions has declined and, as a result, many well-thought of schools there are offering comparatively large scholarships to recruit students from other regions.

Many experts recommend students file their free applications for Federal Aid by February 15. States won’t wait to offer scholarships under their scholarship programs and students can find if they delay, the State may have already run out of scholarship money.

With the reduction of available state funding for scholarships and Federal Pell Grants increasing less than the rising cost of tuition, students should seek out local charities or new build-your-own scholarship websites. Students need to cast a wider net in exploring all financial aid and scholarship possibilities from a college in which they are interested. Most colleges offer a wide range of smaller, but not insignificant, special purpose scholarships.

One of the ways states and colleges are tightening in scholarship offerings are by making it more difficult to qualify. Studying harder and achieving a higher grade point average does help.

Students lacking sufficient money may have to avoid schools with higher tuition costs. This doesn’t mean students have to waste their education and go to a college that doesn’t suit their needs. Some lesser known colleges offer a high quality education and are starting to recruit students by offering bigger scholarships.

Finally, students should make a serious effort to reduce their costs and expenses. Every dollar saved by choosing a less expensive college, or living in less expensive housing, is a dollar students don't have to borrow or raise in scholarships.

"If you have exhausted all of your federal loan options and still need to take out private student loans, make sure you shop around," added Mr. Berkey.

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Samantha Karageorge
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