Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Free Money for College Now Available to Next Fall’s Students

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Sallie Mae Fund announced today that its scholarship application season is now open and invited students attending college in the fall to apply for scholarships it will award for the 2009-2010 school year. Applications, eligibility and deadline information are now available at

Scholarships are one of the four components of financial aid for college: scholarships, grants, work-study and student loans. The Institute for Higher Education Policy estimates that there are billions of dollars in college scholarships available each year. Awards can range from a few hundred dollars to a full ride for all four years, and best of all, they do not need to be repaid.

Erin Korsvall, vice president of The Sallie Mae Fund, reminds students that, to qualify for a scholarship, they must take the first step and apply. “Don’t miss out on scholarships by not applying. Get organized, note key deadlines, and give yourself plenty of time to find scholarships, request applications, complete them, and submit them. This free money will be well worth your time and energy.”

The Sallie Mae Fund offers students tips for finding free money for college:

* Don’t rule yourself out. Scholarships are not limited to class valedictorians and star athletes. They are awarded based on a number of factors — from your career goals to exceptional writing skills displayed in an essay contest.
* Apply for as many awards as you qualify for. Even small awards can be helpful in covering costs, such as books.
* Pay close attention to deadlines. Missing a deadline is a sure way to become disqualified.
* Look for scholarships offered by a variety of sources, including companies, unions, foundations, community organizations, churches, and more.
* Tell family, friends, teachers, and others in your community that you are looking for scholarships. They may know something you do not.
* Understand the conditions of an award, such as maintaining a specific GPA or participating on an athletic team.
* Make use of free scholarship directories and searches offered by reputable organizations, such as The Sallie Mae Fund.
* Watch for scholarship scams. You should never pay for scholarship advice or information.
* If you receive a scholarship, be sure to write a thank-you note to the organization. You may want to reapply for the scholarship in the future so it is important to leave a good impression.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, by 2016, colleges are expected to see a 45-percent growth in the number of Hispanic students enrolling and a 29-percent growth in the number of African-American students, many of whom will have greater financial need. To help meet this challenge, The Sallie Mae Fund provides scholarships through a number of its own programs that address a common barrier to higher education access: financial need. With deadlines ranging from April 15 to May 31, these scholarships include:

* “American Dream” Scholarship Program: The American Dream program was developed in partnership with U.N.C.F. and offers scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 to African-American students with demonstrated financial need. (Deadline: April 15)
* “First in My Family” Scholarship Program: This program, developed in partnership with the Hispanic College Fund, offers scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 to Hispanic-American students who are the first in their family to attend college and have financial need. (Deadline: April 15)
* “Unmet Need” Scholarship Program: Open to families with a combined income of less than $30,000, Unmet Need scholarships provide a “last-dollar” resource when no other funds are available. (Deadline: May 31)

* The Sallie Mae 911 Education Fund: Created in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, this program provides scholarship dollars to children of those who were killed or permanently disabled in the attacks. (Deadline: ongoing)

The Sallie Mae Fund also has online resources to help students research scholarships available from other organizations:

* A free, comprehensive database with billions of dollars worth of scholarships available at
* Latino College Dollars, a directory of scholarships for Hispanic students, developed in partnership with the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California, available at
* Black College Dollars, a directory of scholarships for African-American students, developed in partnership with BET Networks and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, available at

For the 2008-2009 academic year, The Sallie Mae Fund awarded $2 million in scholarships to nearly 800 deserving students enrolled in colleges across the country. A record number of completed applications, more than 24,000, were submitted by college-bound students. For a complete listing of 2008-2009 scholarship recipients and the schools they attend and to access 2009-2010 scholarship application materials, visit

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