FinAid.org was one of the original online resources for information about the financial aid and scholarship process. It is now owned by Monster.com, and still serves as a strong point of entry for learning the basic language of the financial aid process.
FastWeb is the most robust national scholarship search and match tool for high school and college students. When an applicant creates a profile on FastWeb, the company provides daily or weekly emails with information on relevant scholarships to apply for. This resource can quickly become overwhelming, and many scholarships are actually sweepstakes contests, but it is reputable.
FAFSA is synonymous with financial aid because the FAFSA is required of any applicant looking to receive any form of need-based financial aid from US colleges and universities. Contrary to what you may hear, the FAFSA process is not terribly complicated. Most families can complete it independently or with minimal support. Many communities offer FAFSA counseling days during the winter months. The FAFSA application becomes available in October for the following academic year.
The CSS PROFILE is a secondary common financial aid application many colleges and universities require of applicants. This online application is more complex than FAFSA and requires a great deal more information about a family’s finances. Be sure to confirm if any of your colleges even require this application before starting it. Note that you will need to use a College Board account to submit the PROFILE, and there is a fee associated with submitting it to each college. The CSS PROFILE application becomes available in October for the following academic year.
MEFA is the state of Massachusetts’ official educational financing management organization. MEFA is a great resource to start the student loan process. They help oversee Massachusetts’ 529 Plan program and provide reputable resources for families in need of information about college financing options. MEFA offers Massachusetts student loans with competitive rates.
The New England Board of Higher Education oversees the New England Resident Tuition Break Program. Through this program, New England residents can attend public schools outside their home state in New England at discounted rates if they select a major not offered at a public school in their home state. Over 800 programs in New England qualify.
The Federal Trade Commission monitors common consumer scams to alert the public to concerning activity. This article from the FTC outlines how to spot a scholarship scam. There are countless websites designed to trick vulnerable students and families. Beware!