Scholarships and Financial Aid

Figuring out how to pay for a college education can be pretty daunting. But there are lots of financial aid opportunities to be found, including some that are specifically targeted to engineering and to high school girls.

Financial assistance can mean scholarships, grants, loans, or school-based employment opportunities (like campus work-study, paid internships, and co-ops). Here are some ideas for where to look.

An online search is always a useful place to start. You’ll find many sites devoted to helping college-bound students finance their education. For instance, FastWeb offers a free scholarship search. (Registration is required.) This resource will also help you search and compare colleges, as well as find jobs and internships.

The U.S. Department of Education
The Federal Student Aid program awards billions of dollars in grants, work-study, and low-interest loans to students and their families. You apply for these with one form, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is available in January (not before!) of the year you plan to enroll in college.

Your Own Backyard
Talk to your school counselor and teachers for ideas. Find out what engineering-related scholarships might be available through your high school. Most schools also publicize general scholarships that can be applied to engineering programs.

Your Prospective College
In addition to helping you acquire federal student aid, many colleges offer grants, scholarships, and other aid packages of their own. Be sure to check with both the engineering programs and the financial aid offices of the schools in which you’re interested.

College Planning Centers
There are many resource centers dedicated to helping students obtain information that will help you plan and finance a college education. A great example is TERI, whose Web site offers valuable college planning resources and information. TERI manages college planning centers that offer one-on-one student guidance. You can find similar access programs in your state by visiting the National College Access Program Directory.

Engineering Societies and Associations
Many engineering associations offer scholarship and other aid programs. Some may focus on a particular engineering field or on a particular group of applicants (e.g., women or minorities). For example, the scholarship program of the Society of Women Engineers offers financial assistance specifically to women admitted to accredited engineering programs.

You can locate engineering organizations by doing a Web search and by checking out the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center, which offers a comprehensive list of math, science, and engineering societies and associations.

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