If you were to sit down with 100 students who used financial aid and asked them how they were able to secure money needed for college, the majority would give you two answers – creativity and flexibility. By this, students mean finding and being approved for college funding requires you to be creative but also flexible about solutions. If we wanted to be perfectly honest, some people have a much easier time receiving grants from the Federal government, scholarships, or other forms of financial assistance. Unfortunately, for those who do not fare so well, many will simply give up on the dream of going to college.
If you are not someone who excels in academics or athletics, do not fall within a minority category, do not live with a disability, or you would not qualify for some of the other more common types of scholarships, or if you and your family make too much money to qualify for a Pell grant, help is still available. One unique possibility is by becoming a volunteer for the military. By doing this, you may be able to qualify for money from a GI Bill. Another possibility specific to volunteering in exchange for financial aid would be doing one year of community service for AmeriCorps for limited assistance with college tuition.
Today, the number of opportunities that have to do with volunteering in exchange for financial aid has grown dramatically from just a few years ago. Interestingly, even President Obama is working toward creating more programs associated with community service and college so this is definitely something you should not overlook. Although anyone could consider these options, even if they qualify for other more conventional scholarships and grants, this type of financial aid is exceptionally helpful for people who live outside the box. With the examples of military and community service involvement, you can see that people who might otherwise have no way to attend college now have hope of earning a degree.
Rather than feel frustrated when trying to find a way to pay for college, one of the best steps is to consider certain factors so you can move forward with information, ideas, and options. The following are just a few of the points that would be helpful if interested in volunteering in exchange for financial aid or trying to secure money through more conventional means.
• Be Realistic – In a perfect world, you would have control over the type of service volunteered for in exchange for financial aid but in truth, as mentioned at the start of this article you also need to be flexible. This means considering all options so if one possibility does not work out, you would have many more. The military, AmeriCorps, and various community services would certainly be viable options but if for some reason you did not meet the criteria, you may need to look at other forms of volunteering.
• Change of Mind – If you decide to get involved with volunteering in exchange for financial aid, you need to take this arrangement very seriously. One example would be getting involved with the military. If you were attending college on an ROTC scholarship, more than likely you could back out if in your first year. However, from the second year on, you would be locked in tight to a commitment to complete your military obligation. Another example would be using funds from a not-for-profit or for-profit organization. In most cases, you could stop volunteering after being approved for the scholarship but if the money has already been paid to you, funds would be converted to a private loan. At that time, high interest would be tacked onto the loan, which would then become your responsibility to pay.
• Lack of Funds – As you look at different options for volunteering in exchange for financial aid, it would be important to understand the amount of funding. Sometimes, the scholarship would cover only a portion of money needed for tuition, books, lab, and so on but in other cases, the amount of funds paid toward your college education would be enough for a full four years as in the case of the Montgomery GI Bill.