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Find and Apply for Financial Aid: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tuesday | January 3, 2017 | by Kaitlin Ramby

Potential student calculating financial aid

Finding and applying for financial aid can be an overwhelming process at times. Although it is tempting to apply for everything you find to increase the odds, it is more important to be organized in your search. Instead of over applying for scholarships, we’ll show you how to narrow down your scholarship choices to make it more manageable.

Follow the steps below to create more quality applications to increase your chances of receiving financial aid for your studies:

1. Research Early

Your search for financial aid should begin the same time you start researching schools. Before beginning any applications, you should become informed on the scholarship application process, document requirements, and typical selection criteria. These are all important elements of the scholarship process, so make sure you are well-prepared in advance. You can read about these items and more in our scholarship basics post, and examples of some items you may need for your applications include:

  • Financial documents (personal or from parents)
  • Academic documents (transcripts)
  • Test scores (for example, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT)
  • Essays
  • Letters of recommendation

2. Check with Your Government

See if your home country or local government offers financial incentives for its students to study abroad; you may be surprised by what you find. There are many countries awarding aid to its students, such as the King Abdullah Scholarship Program in Saudi Arabia. You may even uncover scholarships particular to your country or region.

The U.S. government may also have financial aid options available to you. For federal student aid options, see what you qualify for on the U.S. Department of Education website.

3. Ask Your School

One of the best and most probable ways of acquiring financial aid will be through the university you attend. Luckily, many schools require that you apply for financial aid at the same time you submit your application to the school.

When you are narrowing down your school choices, be sure to check what types of aid are available to you, from work-study programs to need-based aid to program-specific scholarships.

4. Search Other Sources

After you have exhausted government and university financial aid options, you can begin looking elsewhere for other sources of financial aid. It is important to know there are many private scholarships and grants, both big and small. You can find plenty of financial aid options through websites such as:

Once you have narrowed down which financial aid options you qualify for and collected the materials required for your application, you are ready to apply for financial aid! We wish you the best of luck with this process.

Was this blog helpful to you? Do you have anything you would like to add from your own experiences? Let us know in the comments section below.

Kaitlin Ramby

Kaitlin Ramby is the former Digital Content Producer and a Contributing Writer for World Education Services.