Saving with 6abc: College tuition

August 4, 2008 8:47:38 PM PDT
Finding the money to pay for college has become an increasing concern for many parents. Kimmy Hash will be a freshman at West Virginia University this fall, but her mom's concerned about the cost.

She says tuition, room, and board will total well over $80,000 for four years..

The good news is since Kimmy is her third child to go off to college, Lynne is familiar with how to find money to pay for school.

Lynne's number one tip is to become friends with folks in your school's financial aid office. Check with them regularly about deadlines and paperwork. Plus, if they know you, they're more apt to make sure you know about all the resources that may be available to you.

"That's why I was glad I constantly kept in touch with the financial aid because they got to know her name " Lynne said.

Now Kimmy has a great financial aid package and scholarship money.

"The Wal-Mart scholarship was for $1,000, and I think the Rugby scholarship, if I get it, will be for the same amount," Kimmy said.

Ben Kaplan, a scholarship coach, amassed nearly $90,000 in scholarships to pay for his four-years at Harvard and he's passing along his knowledge in his book - 'How to Go to College Almost For Free.'

"If I could do this all over again, I would start as early as seventh and eighth grade," Ben said.

Yes, Ben's number one tip is start looking for college money early.

Check out free scholarship search databases online. Ben says paid services generally are not worth the money.

Also, ask your school and community groups about small, local scholarships

"I love those awards because hardly anyone applies, you have a great chance of winning and there's a snowball effect; you win the smaller ones, they're a credential that can help you win the larger ones," Ben said.

Also, learn from previous scholarship recipients. Reading winning college essays on Ben's website may help you communicate your own story more effectively.

And apply to as many scholarships as possible, not just one or two

"That's a huge mistake. Because once you've applied to one or two, you've already done 60-percent of the work; you recycle, rethink and reuse material you've already done, so apply to at least one-dozen scholarships," Ben said.

And finally use your vacations and hobbies to create material for new applications.

"For instance, if you're going camping or doing something outdoors, you could do a simple biology or ecology project that all of a sudden qualified you for the Young Naturalists Rewards or the Intel Science Talent Search, two great scholarship programs," Ben said.

Ben will host a free event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in October.. He's bringing together scholarship and student loan providers and financial aid officers all in one place.