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      — In, “Veronica” wrote:
      still have a 4 year old at home all day. I do qualify for financial
      aid so I am looking for a school that takes that in payment. *I have
      heard sooo many horror stories about people having to pay student
      loans for YEARS after they graduate!*

      Hi Veronica,

      You haven’t indicated whether these are courses for a BA or higher
      up, but *generally speaking*, students run into problems and need
      student loans when they find institutions that cost more than the
      grants and scholarships they’ve been awarded. Financial aid is
      indeed taken in payment. The challenge lies in your finding a school
      that doesn’t cost more than that financial aid, which is usually
      awarded each year/semester, depending on the package you get.

      Some of the names of the packages have changed in the years since I
      went through this, but the basic financial aid package started with
      the Pell Grant. Nearly every educational institution knows about
      this particular grant which is awarded for financial need, but you
      must take a certain number of hours in order to qualify. Full time
      is considered 16 hours, but they will award for your taking 12
      hours. Less than 12, to my knowledge, has never been applicable.

      The next step is to find out whether the school in which you’re
      interested (what courses are you planning to take?) has additional
      scholarships and grants for which you can apply privately. But you
      don’t even have to stop there. I’ve just asked you what courses
      you’re planning to take because there are scholarships available
      through many organizations related to individual fields if you
      qualify according to their criteria.

      One of the things you’ll want to do next is to check out the online
      web sites like FastWeb, but there are several out there where you can
      learn more about the scholarships available. I would also visit your
      local high school (I recall many areas of AZ were going to year round
      status, and this should work to your advantage if that’s the case in
      your area.) and go to the guidance office. Find someone to take care
      of your four-yo for *several* hours and sit down with one of their
      books that list all of the scholarships available. Take a notebook
      with you so you can copy all the information because we’re talking
      about a *huge* book you’ll want to try to scan as much as you can!
      If you can do this in several visits for several hours, do so. The
      potential value here is worth *thousands* of dollars. The book has
      well over 1000 pages!

      The Federal Government (I don’t have the information handy at this
      time) has its own grants and awards site you’ll want to look at.
      This is another priceless avenue since it’s based on more Federal
      grants that aren’t always known by the student who could qualify.

      What kind of scholarships are available? There are government
      scholarships as well as the private ones, and they’re out there in
      abundance. Some scholarships are given if you have financial need,
      but others that may or may not include these needs are given for
      (this is a pick one kind of thing) any other factors like age, career
      choices, race, religion, even if you’re left-handed or if your name
      is (pick one here…it’s not just the names like the one I’ve
      mentioned) Smith or Jones or, yes, even Peterson! You may qualify
      because you live in (this is just an example, not intended to be
      specific) Bisbee or Jerome or ShowLow, or–more generally still–in
      Maricopa County or in the Four Corners area. You may qualify because
      your father had belonged to the AFL-CIO or your husband works for
      AMTRAK or you’re a single mom, or you’re over 35 (Clairol has one
      specifically for women who are over 35), if you’re native American,
      Ileut, Navajo, Yaqui, Mexican or less specifically Latino/Chicano,
      Black, Asian, Lutheran, Danish, German, Jewish, Italian, Polish,
      Hmong, a member of the Knights of Columbus, have written a dynamic
      letter in response to a scholarship competition about a problem in
      the average American community, if you want to be a nurse, a doctor,
      a lawyer, an engineer, work in multicultural education, be a teacher
      or address a specific social (community) problem…you simply have to
      do the homework to find these scholarships, and unfortunately, even
      the local guidance office and, for that matter, even a higher
      institution doesn’t always know these things because there are so
      *many* scholarships out there. Talk to a guidance counselor, and you
      may well hear all kinds of negative things.

      The bottom line is the scholarships are out there and plentiful; but
      you need to do the legwork because only you will know where you have
      a chance to qualify by poring over that huge huge book and these
      financial aid sites. It’s hard work, but it’s far from impossible.
      You can do it, but it will take time and determination.

      Some years ago, I discovered a wonderful story published in Parade or
      one of those magazines, about a 14-yo girl in Florida, as I recall.
      By the time she was in the 9th grade, she knew she wanted to become a
      doctor and her family didn’t have the resources. She did what I’ve
      advised you to do here…and ended up with *all* of her education
      paid. In fact, *going into college,* this girl had more than
      $125,000 in scholarships! I don’t recall whether that was enough to
      pull her through med school or she was going to need to get more for
      that track to the certification, but it was a powerhitter article
      that drove home the fact that dedication and drive to find these
      scholarships was the key. And just think, she had 3-4 years to go
      before she graduated high school, so she had still more time to
      increase that package!

      As funny as this sounds, I love reading those scholarships because
      there *are* so many incredibly unique ones, some of which are really
      fun qualifications! I have a dream that perhaps someday I’ll be able
      to return to school to realize my dream at last of having a Ph.D in
      English. My dissertation demands have even been met, drastically
      cutting down the number of years I’d need, so maybe I’ll do what my
      mother did and finally do just that when I’m in my 70s (honest, she
      went back to school–to college–when she was 72!).

      One last thing, Veronica, if you can attend a couple of classes
      locally, the opportunity is priceless as well! ASU and U of A are
      two of the finest schools in the nation.

      Education does not have to be an unreachable thing. Reach for your
      star in the way I’ve described above, Veronica, and please let me
      know how you do!

      Budget101_ moderator and Ethnic Inexpensively columnist

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