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    Financial Aid: How to Pay For Your College Education

    A male college student holding notebooksFebruary is National Financial Aid Awareness Month and we want to make sure every student benefits from the many financial aid rewards, scholarships and free services available to save on education.

    According to U.S. Department of Education statistics, the cost of college tuition is five times more expensive than it was 30 years ago — making it increasingly important to take advantage of programs that can help you pay for college and advance your career.

    File Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

    The U.S. Federal Student Aid Office offers many opportunities to make education more accessible and affordable for Americans.

    • Federal Pell Grants provide aid to low- and middle-income undergraduate students and do not need to be repaid.
    • The Direct Loan Program lends money to students directly for undergraduate and graduate studies and can be subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on your financial situation.
    • PLUS Loans help parents pay for their child’s education expenses incurred in undergraduate or graduate programs.

    Filling out the FAFSA can be a complicated process but there are many resources available to help you apply.  The College Preparation Checklist can keep you informed on all the opportunities available, and the FAFSA4caster can show what federal aid you are eligible for.   FAFSA also provides directions to help you understand your filing options when you find the program that’s right for you.  Make sure to check all FAFSA deadlines here before you apply, since the earlier you submit an application, the better!

    Take Advantage of Tax Credits for Education

    If you are saving for or paying education costs for yourself or someone in your family, make sure to claim valuable tax credits to get money back that you deserve.  The American Opportunity Tax Credit allows taxpayers to claim up to $2,500 for qualified education expenses for each eligible student.  The Lifetime Learning Credit is also available (up to $2,000), and there is no limit for the number of years the credit can be claimed.

    Get more information on tax credits for education. »

    Make the Most of Freebies to Finance Your Education Expenses

    To cut down on education expenses and save some cash, check out these free services to help you become a cost-savvy student:

    • Financial Apps: Mint.com can help you manage your money and develop a budget to reach your financial goals. The site automatically compiles all your financial information (including college loans) into one place so you can finally see your entire financial picture in one place.
    • Tutoring: Struggling in a class?  Sites like Eduwizards.com offer free trials for online tutors who can help students across many subjects and academic grade levels, including college.
    • Books: For ferocious readers always on the go, Librophile.com and BooksShouldBeFree.com have audio books available for download. If you have an electronic reader like the Kindle or iPad, Gutenberg.org has over 33,000 classics whose copyrights have expired for free.
    • Tech Support: If your computer crashes right before a big test, don’t fear – TechGuy.org or 5StarSupport can help with your PC or Mac problems.
    • Business Advice: If you are working and pursuing a degree, check out Score.org to get free, confidential business advice from volunteer executives and business owners.
    • Coupons: Treat yourself to some great deals with Freecoupons.com and Couponsurfer.com/ that are arranged by category and are free to download and print.  Get great deals on school supplies, late night study snacks and more.
    Jenna Gebel
    GII Resource Development Specialist
    Read More Posts By This Author

    Your comment will be held for moderation until approved. For questions about Goodwill programs and services, please use our locator and contact your nearest Goodwill headquarters.

    • Wendy Kizer
      February 16th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Formally a full time employee of Goodwill, I am presently enr olled at Scott Community College in Bettendorf Iowa. I have 2 more semesters to receive my associates degree before going further earning my degree, hopefully at St. Ambrose University, as a Social Worker. Have utilizing student loans makes me very anxious to begin attempting to repay my current debt. I have been working as work study employee at Scott Community College however, its tough to see an end to my means. Any suggestions you may have for me would be appreciated,I truly loved working at the Bettendorf, IA. Goodwill, shop their often unfortunately do not see any openings at this location at the present time.
      Wendy Kizer

      • - GII National Resource Development Specialist
        February 16th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
        Jenna Gebel

        Hi Wendy –

        I encourage you to fill out a FAFSA application because you might be eligible for programs like the Pell grant where the money awarded to students does not need to be repaid. Also, you can fill out the on-line application for Goodwill of the Heartleand: http://www.goodwillseiowa.org/work-at-Goodwill.html and they will notify you of any job openings. Good luck!

        Jenna Gebel
        National Family Support Program Staff
        Goodwill Industries International

    • Kimaberly Van Etten
      October 22nd, 2011 at 3:48 am

      My 18 year old son (senior in high school) has been an employee of Goodwill for over a year and a half. My question is, are there any college grants available to employees of Goodwill? He just recently informed us of his desire to go to Tallahassee Community College in the Fall of 2012. We are going to help him fill out the FAFSA to see if he qualifies for a Pell grant (parents income is on the low side). I am just helping him explore all options. His father is also a Desert Storm veteran, but I am having difficulty finding anything associated with possible grants. Any advice on Goodwill grants or others is greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

      • Kimberly Van Etten
        October 25th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

        Dear Sir/Madam:

        Thank you for response. However, I do not see his local manager having this info. If there are any grants posible that he can apply for, it would seem that they would be at a corporate level. Unless,there are area grants. Is there a way I can find out a district or an area managers number. Please advise. Thanks!

    • Geh Charlaimagne
      December 30th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Dear Sir,
      I am a Cameroonian from a disadvantaged family.I was offered a place in the Tulane University of Public Health and Tropical Medicine,to study towards the master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.I lack finances to pay for my tuition.Please can Goodwill International help me? My admission expires in 2013.Please, kindly help me.
      Geh Charlaimagne.

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