SOS College Resources

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We know you’ve got a lot on your plate with finishing high school, standardized tests, graduation and applying to college. Let us help you! We can help you find money to help pay for school- we can also help you make your way through the FAFSA and financial aid.

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How to create your own personalized scholarship search tool

The RSS feed we have installed on SOS College may be nice, but what if you want to get notifications about scholarships from multiple sites? What if you only want to know about scholarships tailored to your specific interests and needs?

Scholarship alerts

Rest assured, there is a free and easy-to-use tool that can help you. It’s called Google Alerts, and it’s about to become your next best friend. Head over to www.Google.com/alerts and try to think of specific search terms you would enter into Google if you wanted information about particular types of scholarships. Start entering them into the interface, adding an alert for each search, as shown in the box above.

What you’ll get in your email inbox every day is a list of Web pages, news items, and other digital notes from around the Web that Google has found which match your search terms. If Google can’t find anything, it won’t send you an email that day.

Again, one cautionary recommendation – use your most specific, narrow searches with this service, the ones that will return only a few results. If your search is too broad, you’ll end up with gigantic emails every day that will take forever to read.

Read All About It

Email isn’t the only way to get scholarship information delivered to you every day. Imagine for a moment that there was a scholarships column in every newspaper in America. It would take you forever to clip out that column from each paper and put them all in a scrapbook, not to mention the tremendous expense of buying all those papers each day. That’s kind of what it’s like to try keeping up with all the news and blogs about scholarships all over the Web.

Happily, services like Google Reader do all the clipping and scrapbooking for you, delivering them in one easy to read window, like your own personal newspaper delivered daily, for free. Here’s how to start “digitally scrapbooking” scholarship information.

Go to Google News (http://news.google.com) and enter one of your scholarship searches there. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you’ll find a series of links, including one for Google Reader. Click on it.

You’ll be asked in Google Reader if you want to subscribe to that news feed. Click the subscribe button.

Once subscribed, every time there’s a news story about that scholarship term, you’ll get articles about it that you can read, review, and determine if it’s relevant to your scholarship search or not.

Search for all your other major scholarship searches and add them to Google Reader as well, and you will have your very own scholarships newspaper, delivered to your digital doorstep whenever you want to read it.

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Filling out the FAFSA

This site features the FAFSA application and CSS profile, which are both forms of government student aid. Every year that you are in college, it is highly recommended that you fill out a FAFSA application if you think you qualify for financial aid. A supplementary CSS profile may also be required by the college(s) you are applying to. Both of these documents are explained in great detail on this site.

The video below provides a step-by-step walk through on how to prepare yourself for the FAFSA.

This video provides information for special cases concerning your dependency status – such as if you split your time between parents who are divorced or separated.

If you find yourself in need of more information, go to www.thecollegeexpert.com for more information on how to get the maximum amount of financial aid.

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15 Changes to the FAFSA and What it Means to You

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, has undergone a number of changes in 2010 which could effect you. Before filling out the application, make sure to look at these key points compiled by the Scholarship Street Blog:

1. New url for the site:  www.fafsa.gov.  The old url still works but this is a shorter address in hopes of preventing students from going to “un”official sites that charge a fee to complete the FAFSA for you.  NEVER pay a fee to complete the FAFSA.  It’s free.

2. Color coded tabs for student and parent sections so it is clear who fills in the required information.  Parents = purple.  Students = Blue.

3. More detailed information such as graduation and retention rates of the colleges you select.  Hey, you should know what you are paying for, right?

4. Fewer questions, based on the profile you enter.  For example, if you are not married, you will not see the questions about married students.  That makes sense and saves you time.

5. More help functions that are tailored to you and how you answer the questions.

6. Removal of Veteran’s benefits questions because they no longer affect eligibility for other federal aid (could change in the future – don’t know)

7. Quick, live estimate of Pell Grant eligibility, based on the information your provide.  No matter waiting and wondering.

8. Virtual keyboard and scrambled SS# to better protect your identity.

9.  Status bars/indicators so you know where you are in the process.

10. Fewer questions about assets for low-income students…again, that makes sense.

11. Transfer (pre-population) of parent information to a sibling’s application.

12. Skip or re-direct on questions about homeless students or dependent students whose parents refuse to provide financial information.

13.  Revised definitions of homeless, degree of homelessness, independent status, dislocated workers (including dislocated homemaker, which is an extremely important job!) to identify and expand financial aid opportunities for more people.

14. Matching process through Department of Defense for additional aid for students (dependents) who had a parent killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11/01.

15.  Coming in Summer 2010….drumroll please….IRS data retrieval tool to lift information from your parents’ tax forms and SAVE YOU TIME!!!

Sources:  Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp Training and ed.gov blog http://www.edgovblogs.org/duncan/2010/01/a-simpler-application-for-student-aid/

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Nelnet-Education Planning and Financing

This site provides information on financing for college, general information on the college application process, and general career tips.

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Financial Aid Finder

Financial Aid Finder produces top rated financial aid resources for students. Scholarship info

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NAFSA

This site provides information about financial aid for international students that includes cost, institutional aid, scholarships, grants, loans, personal resources, and tax credit information. There are also resources for scholarships, loans, and tax information.

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NACAC – Financial Aid and Scholarship List

This site provides a comprehensive list of both financial aid and scholarship opportunities from a variety of locations.

Includes both federal and private student aid.

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Financial Aid Myths

Financial Aid Myths debunks any of the myths and rumors about Financial Aid, providing several avenues to obtaining the aid for a variety of students.

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The Santana House Blog

This site is a blog for youth in the East LA area but contains a particular post on “Help with SAT and financial aid”. Also contains information on extra curricular activities (volunteer, special events, lessons)  that might be helpful for high school students to go to.

Rank 3/4 (provides different kind of information that may be helpful for kids applying to college)

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What’s SOS College?
SOS College is a free online resource designed as a collection of maps for the road to college.
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