Finding Free Money for Your Child’s Education

Last year, Wall Street published an article stating that in 2030, the cost for a four-year college degree will be somewhere around $231,000. The author of the piece was trying to calculate just how much he would need to save (between 2011-2030) in order to send his newborn daughter to college. The figure that he came up with was $8,250 per year. If that doesn’t inspire a parent to start hunting for creative ways to get free money for their child’s education, nothing will.

So, now that you have a reason to do a bit of “free money digging”, here are the tools that will ensure that you won’t be pinning away for fool’s (tuition) gold, but for the real thing.

Look up scholarships. Even if your child is still in elementary school, that doesn’t make this a fruitless effort. The fact is that millions of dollars are overlooked every year simply because people don’t make the time to research what scholarship monies are available. Sure, there are some that are only merit based and so obviously when it comes to high school transcripts, your son or daughter will need to be teenagers in order to apply for academic scholarships. But there are also those that are given to people based on their gender, their race, their religious affiliation and even where they live. And many of these scholarships have been around for decades, so there’s a good chance that they’ll exist for a couple of more. In other words, no matter what your child’s age may be, look some up. It’s definitely not a waste of time to find potential college funding.

Find some grants. The great thing about grants is that while scholarships are usually merit based, grants are not. Grants are financial awards given for the pursuit of college education or business development. There are various kinds of grants. A Pell grant ranges from $400-4050 and is given to students in the greatest (documented) financial need. A grant that is similar in nature is the Federal Supplement Educational Opportunity Grant which offers grant awards ranging between $100-4,000 annually. State grants are monies that are given, also to students who have a really challenging time paying for their tuition, but they must live in the state for which they are applying. Institutional grants are grants given by the college or university themselves. It is money that’s offered to compensate for what financial aid may not be able to cover on its own.

Get with the UPromise program. Are you familiar with It’s a program that gives money to its members through the spending that they do via the participating online stores, restaurants, drug and grocery stores that are affiliated with UPromise. The varying percentages that you get back from your purchases goes into a UPromise account that you are able to withdraw from once your child is enrolled in a college or university.

Do some community service. It probably depends on how you look at community service when it comes to deciding if this is actually a “free money option” or not, but there are organizations like Peace Corps and Americorps that will give your child about a year’s worth of tuition in exchange for a year’s worth of service within their community or abroad. These commitments must be completed beforehand (you can apply for undergrad or even to help pay for a masters program), but there are a variety of ways to serve and you’re considered to be a member of their team indefinitely following an accepted application.

Do your research. Money For College is a website that is devoted to providing parents will innovative ways to pay for their child’s education. Indeed, when it comes to finding additional funds, there are a lot of avenues just like that one. Check with your church and place of employment to see if there are scholarships or fellowships available. Definitely encourage your child to speak with their guidance counselor if they’re of high school age. Sometimes, there’s a temptation to think that certain things—like free money for school—do not exist, but it’s all about being patient, diligent and seeking until you find it.