In Assets, Budgeting, COLLEGE AND CAREER

If you are seeking ways to pay for college, there may be some free money that may be available to you.   In the 2017-2018 academic year, full-time undergraduate college students received a total of $8,970 in grant aid.  But the way to free money will require some work, take time now to start your research to see what programs may work for you.

529 Plans and TOPS (Louisiana)

Here in the state of Louisiana, we have the Start Saving Plan.  This plan allows participants to save money for students.  One of the advantages of the plan is the state will match up to 14% of deposits annually with Earnings Enhancements – so that is free money!  Deposits can generally be up to $2,400 per year per beneficiary and the amounts can be used as a state tax deduction.   Keep in mind, with the recent tax changes, the account can not only be used for higher education but participants can use the money for K-12 tuition expenses.  It is a great way to save.

Also, the State of Louisiana has the TOPS program, which allows students with a grade point average of 2.50 and a minimum ACT score of 20 to qualify for a scholarship for college tuition.  Students must be a resident of Louisiana and complete the Financial Aid Free Student Application (FAFSA).

Federal Grants 

The federal government offers grants to those attending college.  Many are aware of the Pell Grant, which is granted for those who have a financial need.  These include undergraduate students who are enrolled full time or part-time. These grants can be awarded up to $6k (2018 school year).  Keep in mind, in order to qualify you must complete the FAFSA application.  However, most might not be familiar with the TEACH Grant program.  This grant is awarded to those who agree to teach in a low-income area where there is a shortage of specific subject teachers in an elementary or secondary school.  Participants can receive up to $4,000 a year.

Major Scholarships

In addition to grants, students should seek out major scholarships to save on college.  Below is a listing of major scholarships that can help ease the burden:

The Ford Foundation

The Bill Gates Scholarships

Facebook Scholarship 

Google Scholarship 

AT&T Scholarship 

Websites 

Lastly, don’t forget to explore various websites to help you navigate for your search.  There are many great websites such as:

Scholarships.org

UNCF.org

CollegeBoard.org

FastWeb.com

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and owner of Washington CPA Services, LLC.  She is an author and personal finance contributor.

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