Most families will apply for financial aid.  You must file your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and list your colleges on it.  The FAFSA application opens on October 1.  You use your tax return from the year that is 2 years prior to the fall when you will attend college.  So, if you are starting college in the fall of 2018, your FAFSA will be based on your family's 2016 tax return.  Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov  to apply.  You will need information for yourself and your parents/guardians:
  • your social security number
  • student permanent resident card (if you are not a citizen)
  • your tax information (Federal 1040) and W2 forms
  • records of untaxed income (child support, interest, etc.)
  • savings and checking account information
  • stock, bonds, real estate (not retirement accounts and not the value of your home) 
  • 529 account information which must be declared.
The government will email you your EFC (Expected Family Contribution).  Then the college you decide to attend, takes that information and puts together a package for you that most likely will contain:  grants (free money), work-study, and loans.
 
Some colleges (particularly private ones) may require the CSS Profile that can be found at www.css.collegeboard.org Colleges impose their own deadlines for receiving the FAFSA and the CSS so check their websites for those dates! 
 
You can also conduct a Scholarship Search in several ways: 
  • On your Naviance account, go to the Colleges tab and scroll down to the lower right. Click on National Scholarship Search.  It will bring up a list.  Click on the ones in which you are interested, and if you are eligible, click on their websites. 
  • Check the Financial Aid pages of each of your college's websites to see what in-house scholarships they offer.
  • Register with FastWeb.
  • Try Cappex and CollegeXpress.
  • Log onto HESC.ny.gov (Higher Educational Services Corporation)
  • Barnes & Noble also has national scholarship search books that you can peruse.
  • Google your religion, race, and country of origin to see what might be available.
  • Try large corporations like Coca Cola, McDonalds, etc.
  • Ask your employer and union to see if there are scholarships set up for the children of employees.
  • Try fraternal organizations like The Elks Club.
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