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Getting the most bang per buck: Financial aid tips for college students

As all Elon students know, tuition, room and board can add up. What many don’t know is that financial aid is not only available for high school seniors. There is a multitude of scholarship opportunities through the university and other organizations geared toward students that are already in college, and Elon can help with the search for some college “green.”

Contact the financial aid office
The people working in the financial aid office don’t assist with non-need-based aid, but they can help find information about other scholarships.

Financial Aid Director M. Patrick Murphy estimates that of all Elon students, only about 55 percent apply for financial aid. Of the 55 percent percent, between 38 and 40 percent are awarded some kind of aid.

“Don’t make the assumption that you’re not eligible,” Murphy said. “You won’t get any if you don’t apply.”

The financial aid office can help uncover scholarships that no one would ever think of — from Daughters of the American Revolution to Blondes Only.

Check your campus box often
Many on-campus organizations offer scholarships for women, minorities, men and specific majors. Some scholarships cover the cost of books and some are just a little extra to help take the bite out of a $25,000 tuition check. Every little bit helps, so keep on top of the scholarship deadlines.

Currently, Sigma Phi Epsilon is holding interviews for its Balanced Women Scholarship. The deadline was weeks ago, and information was distributed through campus boxes. The ladies still in the running are there they checked their mail. There are also departmental scholarships that may become available depending on the classes one takes.

Log on
Found under the “Admissions” tab on the Elon Web site, the financial aid site breaks down the types of scholarships into the following categories: endowed scholarships, merit-based programs, talent-based programs, ROTC, engineering and scholarships for high school juniors.

The merit-based programs are only awarded to incoming freshmen, but the talent-based programs are renewable each year and can be an invaluable opportunity.

It is never too late to apply for need-based aid. Completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile was a requirement for first-time freshmen, and those applications can be updated and resubmitted for a chance at earning government loans or grants. Elon also offers an application for need-based financial aid specifically for returning students.

There are dozens of Web sites devoted specifically to finding non-need based scholarships.

These scholarship search engines match applicants with scholarships best tailored to their interests, backgrounds and needs to help students find scholarships that are both unique and carry a great payout.

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