Tips on getting cash for college

5 Critical Steps Every College Bound Family Should Do - ASAP! - from Dan Bisig of College and Beyond LLC

1.  Calculate your family's Expected Family Contribution (EFC)  - ASAP: This is the amount of money the Department of Education tells each family they should be able to write a check for to send their son or daughter to college, regardless of the price of the school.  Families are often shocked and awed by this dollar amount because it is never a true reflection of what they can do within their budget.  This is exactly why families need to calculate their EFC……ASAP so that they can put together an integrated and coordinated Game Plan on how they and their student are going to pay for college.

2.  Do your Homework on the Requirements Needed to Qualify for Scholarships at your Student's Chosen College:  So many families are caught by surprise when their student is notified that they didn't receive the big scholarship they had hoped for from their selected colleges.  How could this be after years of hard work by their student in AP classes and many extracurricular activities?  The fact is that Not All Schools play by the same rules.  This is especially true when it comes to how they hand out their endowment funds so you must know the rules in advance!

3.  Have the "Money Talk" with your Student:   Many families are so busy that they forget to have a conversation with their daughter or son about the financial side of paying for college.  Families often have a limited amount of money they can afford to spend on their student's College education without compromising Mom and Dad's future needs and those of other siblings.  By giving your student a reality check as soon as possible on what your family can realistically spend on College per year and explaining how the student is going to financially participate, future stress and anxiety can be minimized when the Award Letters start rolling in to your mailbox.

4. Help your Student Apply to both Public and Private Colleges and don't getting Paralyzed by the Sticker Price:  Choosing the right college FIT for your student and your family takes time.  In addition, families can become paralyzed by the Sticker Price of each of their student's chosen Colleges. The college selection process can be extremely competitive when it comes to getting admitted to certain schools and qualifying for scholarships.  That is why it is very important for a student to apply to multiple schools:  2 to 3 REACH, 50/50 and SAFETY schools.  If a student has done their part on their academics (GPA, Test Scores and curriculum) and community involvement (and extracurricular activities), not only will they have a better chance of getting accepted to the school but they may be able to pay for a Private College….. at a Public College price tag.  Don't allow the Sticker Price of the schools scare you away from applying!  You may be pleasantly surprised by the terrific offers your student receives!

5.  Have a Backup Plan.  -  What are you going to do "IF______?"  (You fill in the blank).  Things happen.  Students apply to colleges and either don't get accepted or don't get enough FREE Aid.  The money you had saved for college gets hit by a crashing stock market.  Students go away to college on scholarship and then change their mind or fail to meet the renewal requirements.  What is your Backup plan?  How are you going to handle the problems and obstacles that may come along?  Having a Backup Plan is key to having a successful College Experience and covering all the bases if circumstances change!

Scholarships: The Top 10 Strangest Ways to Pay for College - from Dan Bisig of College and Beyond LLC

Scholarships are a great way to pay for college education. The problem is that scholarships are typically merit-based, which means they are usually reserved for students with 4.0 GPAs or star athletes.

Thankfully, there are scholarships that rely on other kinds of distinction. Some of these scholarships might be called "non-traditional"; others are downright strange. Here's a list of ten of the more unusual ones out there.

1. The Patrick Kerr Skateboarding Scholarship. You remember when your mother told you that skateboarding was a waste of time? Well, not anymore. Any high school senior-skateboarder with a 2.5 GPA and serious plans on attending college can apply for one of four scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 dollars each.

2. Carnegie Mellon University Bagpipe Scholarship. This scholarship is truly one-of-a-kind — literally. Carnegie Mellon University awards exactly one applicant every year a $7,000 scholarship to study bagpipe. William Wallace would be proud.

3. Chick & Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship. This scholarship needs no explanation. If you know how to call ducks, get yourself down to Stuttgart, Arkansas, to compete for a $1,500 prize for college.

4. The Klingon Language Institute's Kor Memorial Scholarship. Yes, this is a real scholarship based on the popular alien race from Star Trek. The good news is that you don't have to be a Star Trek devotee to be eligible. In fact, you don't even have to speak Klingon. You just need to be an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in a language or linguistics program at an accredited university.

Incidentally, there are also several Starfleet Academy Scholarships, also of Star-Trek origins, also $500 each. The Starfleet Scholarships are named for popular actors/characters in the television series and include the Dr. Leonard McCoy Medical Scholarship, the Montgomery Scott Engineering Scholarship, the LeVar Burton Educational Scholarship, and the Patrick Stewart Scholarship for the Performing Arts.

5 & 6. Billy Barty Foundation Scholarship for Dwarfism and the Tall Clubs International Scholarship. Whether you're big — over 6'2" for men, 5'10" for women — or small — 4'10" to be exact, with a medical form of dwarfism — you could be eligible for a $1,000 scholarship. They even have a scholarship for left-handed students at Juanita College. In fact, there's a scholarship for nearly every physical condition — well, almost. I'm still waiting for a scholarship for people who are "big-boned," if you know what I mean …

7. Duct Tape "Stuck at Prom" Scholarship Contest. This scholarship is open to all students who are attending a high school prom. Applicants enter as a couple and attend high school prom wearing complete attire or accessories made from duct tape. The first place prize consists of a $3,000 scholarship for each member of the winning couple and a $3,000 cash prize to the school that hosted the prom.

8. Michigan Llama Association Scholarship. If you're studying veterinary medicine at Michigan State University College, and if you're interested in learning about and working with llamas, you could be eligible for a $500 scholarship sponsored by The Michigan Llama Association.

9. Excellence in Predicting the Future Award. This is not exactly what it sounds like. Any would-be Nostradamus need not apply. Any would-be Alan Greenspan, on the other hand, should. The "Excellence in Predicting the Future Award" is actually a contest for students interested in economics. Participants "buy and sell" future predictions in the manner of buying stocks. A $400 cash gift is awarded every two months by Troy Studios to encourage students to pursue economics or simply to learn more about the world they live in. And finally …

10. Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation Scholarship. Before you make any snarky remarks about "sucking-up" this scholarship, be advised that it awards $5,000 annually to one lucky student pursuing vacuum coating technology at an accredited university. I don't know about you, but suddenly vacuums seem much more interesting than Klingons or llamas.

The moral of the story? Basically, it's that there are innumerable scholarships out there for potential college students. So whether you are a Trekkie, an aspiring Tony Hawk, a bagpiper, or even if you like ducks or duct tape, there's a scholarship for you. In short, if you can't find a little extra money for college, then, frankly, you're just not trying.