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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page No.

Introduction 3

Chapter I School Is Free, College Is Not! 4

Chapter II Scholarship Websites 5

Chapter III More Scholarship Websites 7

Chapter IV Maintaining Your Financial Aid – The Do’s And Don’ts 8

Chapter V Work Study Programs 10

Chapter VI Free Education As A Company Benefit 12

Chapter VII Employee Waiver Programs 13

Chapter VIII Continuing Education 16

Chapter IX Conclusion 17

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Introduction

Private college education today can cost quite a bit – in tens of thousands of
dollars. High school graduates are often stricken by this stark reality only
when they start applying for college education. Due to this, students from
poor families are often compelled to put off their plans for higher studies or
even abandon them altogether. The fact of the matter, however, is that
anyone with a little ingenuity and confidence can complete their college
education virtually free or at a significantly lower price.

This ebook is meant to serve as a guide for fresh high school graduates in
their pursuit for cost-effective education. The information given herein has
been compiled from various sources including websites, survey of college
staff, students and educational consultants. This book has been written based
on the recognition that a great majority of the parents and students I have
discussed with are not aware of the various opportunities available to them
to make college education affordable.

This book seeks to give a complete picture of the various avenues available
for candidates to get free college education. Therefore, some information
given herein may be standard, that which you may receive while speaking to
financial aid counselors at private colleges. This book however is more
about the lesser-known facts, those that still remain closely guarded secrets
among a few privileged people for various reasons.

Here’s hoping that you will find this book useful in your pursuit of your
higher education goals.

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Chapter I
School Is Free. College Is Not!

As school students, we are all conditioned to take our education for granted
as it is offered for free by the State. However, college education is quite
different. In fact many students are struck by this reality only when they
complete high school and look for college education opportunities. Yes, high
school graduation is a time when the realization hits them that from that
point on education is anything but free.

Financial aid officers at various colleges whom I met as part of collecting


data for this ebook were unanimous that most often young high school
graduates react with shock and disbelief when told about the cost of college
education.

The financial aid office helps eligible students avail themselves of


scholarships, grants or loans. In a majority of cases, the aid comes in the
form of loans that must be paid back after the student graduates. In some
cases, the pay back can start while the student is still in school. It must also
be borne in mid that there is something called the shortfall which essentially
is the part of the part of the expenses that are not covered by the different
forms of financial aid. This results in a monthly payment that must be paid
by the student directly to the school itself. This can be anything from 10% to
50% of the total cost of the program. Thus, the shortfall itself can be a
sizable amount for students who do manage to get an aid of some sort.

This is where this book comes in. It lists in sufficient detail the many ways
to get a free or near-free college education. It equips you with all the
information and resources you need to minimize or eliminate altogether in
many cases the cost of college education. These are not theoretical ideas or
avenues available to a limited number of people. In fact we have several
examples of individuals who used the methods and ideas given in this book
to earn everything from Associates degrees right up to Masters degree or
higher. As such, we see no reason why these methods won’t work for you.
Welcome to the world of free college education!

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Chapter II
Scholarship Websites

Several philanthropic and charitable organizations as well as private parties


give financial aid to students who show the right commitment and drive. The
reason why they do this is simple: Education is a powerful tool to positively
influence the lives of people and thus effect social change. Money spent on
education is money well spent. This fact prompts them to set aside large
parts of their welfare funds for promoting education. To ensure the proper
utilization of such funds, they set suitable eligibility criteria. Some even
monitor the progress of the beneficiary students through the program and
insist that they score a certain minimum grade in examinations.

As a diligent student willing to put in enough effort at studies, this should


not be a concern for you. The challenge however is sifting through all of the
various opportunities so available and zeroing in on the legitimate ones.

Fast Web is a trusted source of information on such scholarships and grants.


The site gives comprehensive information on the various aids available to
students – local, national and college specific. The website states that they
have access to 1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.

How does one use fastweb.com to know which scholarships and grants one
is specifically eligible for? The site requires that you initially set up a
password-protected account for yourself. Apart from the usual information
such as name, address, email etc. the site collects information specific to the
candidate such as income, nationality, religion, age, likes and dislikes etc.
These seemingly superfluous and random questions are asked for a purpose.
They are designed to match your profile with the eligibility criteria of
specific organizations and give appropriate advice on this basis. Thus, the
site allows you to apply only to just the scholarships/grants you are likely to
get approved for and avoid the others. This is a useful feature in a situation
where there is a multitude of aid agencies with their own eligibility criteria
and conditions.

It is important here to not that questions that may not appear important or
necessary, are sometimes very relevant in the context of obtaining certain
scholarships. For instance, stating one’s nationality may stand one in good
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stead to get a scholarship or grant aimed at certain specific ethnic groups or
nationalities.

Once you complete the survey, the site will give you information on how to
apply for the various grants and scholarships you personally are eligible for.
In some instances, you may be required to write an essay explaining why
you should receive the scholarship. Some may simply ask you to furnish
proof of income or provide some additional information. In any case, after
you complete the initial survey you will find that from then on, you will
receive, for many years, e-mails on new scholarships available to you
matching the information you filled out about yourself. The option is
entirely yours to decide whether to apply for those scholarships based on
your requirement and interest.

As you learn the ropes of the system, you will invariably find that you
should apply for as many grants and scholarships as you can. This is
facilitated by the fact that there is no limit to how many you can apply and
potentially qualify for. As there is no guarantee that you will qualify for
individual scholarships, the more organizations you apply to, the better are
your chances of getting one.

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Chapter III
More Scholarship Websites

Fastweb.com is of course the most popular among the scholarship websites.


However, there are more websites that help students find scholarships and
grants for their education. The list given below is thought to comprise
legitimate ones as it has been prepared with the help of the financial aid
officers of private colleges. Fastweb.com tops the list as it is the first name
mentioned by everyone. However, please don’t discount the usefulness of
others. They too are known to have helped several students find legitimate
scholarships and grants to help them through college.

www.bestofcolleges.com
www.fastweb.com
www.collegescholarship.com
www.fastaid.com
www.freschinfo.com
www.salliemae.com
www.scholarships.com
www.gocollege.com
www.scholarshipshop.com
www.college-scholarships.com
www.collegenet.com
www.wiredscholar.com
www.collegefunds.net/free-scholarships.htm

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Chapter IV
Maintaining Your Financial Aid – The Do’s and Don’ts

As students, many of you are apt to falling prey to the temptation of skipping
classes for no justifiable reason. If you are on a scholarship or grant and are
overcome by this desire, just banish it! For, the cost of doing it can be huge.
As mentioned earlier, most organizations that offer scholarships and grants
diligently follow up on the progress of their beneficiaries through college.

For federal financial assistance, there are two conditions that the students
must meet and maintain to continue receiving it. The first one is the
student’s completion (attendance) rate. Most of the students who skip classes
do so without realizing how financially devastating it can be for them if they
fall short of the required minimum completion rate.

For instance, if you do not complete the required amount of your class time
you will be removed from and not qualify again for a very long time for
federal financial funding. The government requires you to maintain a 65%
completion rate to continue supporting your education. Many uninformed
students just bunk their classes and get a rude shock later when the college
informs them that they have lost their federal aid and must now apply for a
private loan or look for own means to continue their studies. This situation
can last for one or several semesters until the average completion rate
reaches 65% again and stay there.

Another lesser-known fact about the completion rate is that the school must,
drop a student on federal assistance, if a certain amount of classes are not
attended, as per government regulations. This can set off a chain reaction
often with disastrous consequences. While such an unfortunate situation is
not impossible to recover from, if you find yourself in one, it can seriously
affect your studies and delay your graduation. It is therefore in your interest
to concentrate most of all on your studies and keeping up good grades.

This brings us to another very important factor in receiving and maintaining


financial aid, that is, maintaining a good grade point average (GPA). Many
students, admittedly, are concerned about their grades. However, they are
not always aware of the consequences in terms of financial assistance, if
their grades drop.
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For reason of lack of awareness about the importance of maintaining the
required course completion rate and keeping the required GPA, many
students have had to either arrange for private loans or leave school before
graduation. So the next time you feel tempted too miss class for whatever
reason, remember that you are putting your education in the line by risking
the continuity of your financial assistance.

If, however, you have an unavoidable situation that requires you to miss
some classes, immediately contact the proper department of your school so
they can take remedial action so your funding is not affected. Remember it is
both your and your college’s interests to keep you in school. They will do
anything possible to save you from such unfortunate eventualities as
withdrawal of financial assistance or discontinuance from the program.

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Chapter V
Work Study Programs

An important way to cut down on the cost of education and receive financial
aid while attending college is to enroll for a work-study program offered by
the school. In fact many educational institutions offer such programs for the
benefit of their students. Students who meet an accepted level of
competency usually in terms of a GPA of at least 2.0 or higher and who have
an adequate completion rate can take advantage of such programs. This will
assist them in cutting down the cost of education further and in some cases
even help them earn money while they study.

Educational institutions that offer these programs do so to support diligent


students who are committed to their education. Discussions with students
and college officials suggested that many students are not aware of the fact
that they can work at their college and receive compensation. The student’s
compensation in such programs can come directly from the school itself or
from the government and as part of the student financial aid program. The
various opportunities available include tutoring, assisting in student services,
the library, information technology services and so on.

It must be stated here explicitly that to take advantage of these positions you
must be an excellent student. To know more about such opportunities, you
need to approach either the career development center or the financial aid
office, the latter since many of these programs are actually funded by
government financial aid programs. If you meet the GPA and completion
rate requirements, you need only to concern yourself with the things that you
do while applying for any job.

Among the few students who are aware of this opportunity, many think of
this type of jobs as less important and so do not give them a professional
approach. But this is not on. You should always follow accepted rules of
professionalism in your attire and the manner in which you conduct yourself.
If you dress formally, you will surely be preferred over a fellow applicant
who turns up in casual attire.

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An important and often overlooked additional benefit of attending a work-
study program is the work experience you will obtain from your job. This is
particularly relevant to the present times, where many fresh graduates feel
the frustration of having to wait on and on to get that perfect job in the field
of their choice due to its requiring a certain amount of real work experience.
A work-study program thus gives you a head start when you enter the job
market.

Additionally, many student workers get hired as permanent employees by


their colleges in due course. This of course depends on the student’s attitude,
work ethics and personality. Some are even offered managerial positions
immediately on graduation because the institution gets to assess their
interpersonal, leadership and communication skills while they do their work.
This shows that work study opportunities offer benefits far beyond
immediate financial relief, rather they can play a major role in shaping the
careers of the students.

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Chapter Six
Free Education As A Company Benefit

Free education can be part of the many perks a company offers to its
employees. With increased focus on human resources management,
companies go that extra mile in their search for the best talent and efforts to
retain them.

The additional advantage of offering free or subsidized education to the


employees is that the company too will benefit from the additional skills and
knowledge acquired by the employee. Free education, when properly
managed, is a win-win situation for both the company and the employee.

Companies offering such sponsored education programs pay various annual


amounts to the employees depending on their time on the job and the
relevancy of the program to their jobs. Another benefit to the employee is
the tax exemption they can receive for the expenses incurred on education.

The companies often set certain eligibility criteria for their employees to to
qualify for sponsored education programs. For example, you may have to
execute an undertaking that you are willing to remain on the job for a certain
amount of time after obtaining the degree. Some may insist that you
maintain a certain minimum GPA. Some employers may also require that
finish the program in a certain period of time.

While most companies set requirements an employee must meet to receive


support for their education, they are more often than not, laid down in good
spirit and well worth meeting for the employees.

The benefits of obtaining a higher education will be long lasting. Such


employees often have a faster climb up the corporate ladder if they decide to
stay on. They can, if they so choose, leverage their new qualification to their
advantage by opting for a more rewarding job in a new company. To know if
a company’s sponsored education program is right for you, you must
investigate the details of the plan and the eligibility requirements before
joining as an employee.

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Chapter VII
Employee Waiver Programs

Quite a few private colleges provide free education to their staff as an


incentive. Obviously, this is a perfect arrangement for both the institution
and the staff. While the employee gets free education in a certificate or
degree program, the school gets a better employee and loyal student. This
can create a positive impression about the school among other students too
as they see the employees themselves attending the school.

Isn’t it then a cool thing to get free college education by securing a job at
private, career-based college, which offers such a benefit to the employees?

It is a well-guarded secret that in many colleges, one of the employee


benefits is in the form of education. This can take different forms as
appropriate such as tuition remission, tuition waiver, employee waiver, and
tuition reduction. Before taking up a job in such an institution, you must
assess the college’s free employee education program as to its suitability for
you. For instance, does the college allow you to work flexi hours on the job
while you are enrolled on a program?

In fact this aspect of getting free education was not known to me when I set
about writing this book. It was a casual mention by a staff member of a
financial aid office that set me exploring this opportunity further. It then
turned out that many people actually take up jobs in career focused colleges
to avail of this benefit.

That begs the question: If so many people make use of this opportunity, why
is it still not so well-known? One reason is that these colleges are not so
liberal with their free education programs. Mind you, they make their money
out of the fees paid by the students and it certainly does not suit their
purpose to publicize their employee education programs liberally. So while
admitting new students a college prefers that they finance their tuition by
way of student loans, scholarships, grants etc. and not on their getting a job
in the college for availing of the free education benefit.

The payoffs of getting a free education at the college where you work are
many. The work experience adds further value to the education you receive
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and help you excel in studies. The fact that you do not have to drive or
commute between your place of work and study helps you save time and
money. Also, working for a school and becoming eligible for free education
will even allow you in many cases to receive your training online if this is
available, another great convenience. Plus you will be in a more
advantageous position vis-à-vis the others for promotions or even a career
change if you so decide.

Recognizing their value, lately, even traditional colleges and universities


have started offering tuition waivers to their staff. Such institutions show
their commitment to continuing education and programs that promote
employees’ education are actively encouraged and supported.

There may be instances where a degree is a qualifying requirement for


getting a job at a college. Don’t let this discourage you; in fact there are
several colleges which offer entry level jobs to high school graduates. Thus
one option is to look for other colleges where your current education is
enough to secure a job.

However, even in schools that require you to have an Associates or


Bachelors degree to be considered for a job, a tuition waiver benefit can still
help you attain a higher degree, if that is offered at the college. So you can
first take your AA degree using a scholarship, grant or loan as appropriate
and then go on and earn a masters or doctorate degree tuition free at the
college of your choice.

An online search will give you plenty of colleges who are hiring. A visit to
their websites will give additional information on the employee benefits they
offer. If free education is not mentioned as a benefit, don’t assume it is not
offered. As previously mentioned, this is not liberally publicized
information and in such instances, you will have to do a little undercover
investigation to find out all the relevant facts from people you know or
“meet” who work for the college you are interested in.

Thus, working in a college and receiving free education there itself has
several benefits as outlined earlier. And this is not fanciful thinking. Believe
me, this is a real possibility and thousands of smart people in our country
make use of this opportunity.

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If you qualify for a student loan or have other means to pay for your first
few months at the college while you are attempting to get hired and that is
how you feel comfortable doing it by all means get enrolled, start school and
apply for a job at your convenience.

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Chapter VIII
Continuing Education

Is securing an Associates or Bachelors degree the end of your education?


The answer is ‘No’ in many cases. In practice, graduation is by no means the
end of your education, just the beginning of your journey on the road to life
long learning.

What does this mean for your pursuit of free college? Many colleges and
universities have programs especially aimed at alumni to keep them abreast
of the latest developments in their respective fields and keep them fully
competent in their jobs.

These programs can take the form of tuition free retraining where graduates
can return to their schools and participate again in courses that were part of
their curriculum. Some schools, for instance, offer their alumni the
opportunity to audit a class that has been revised. (to audit a class in this
context means to attend it without receiving a grade or credit). Auditing a
class allows you to stay completely up to date with the latest information and
you don’t get left behind due to lack of knowledge.

Similarly, if an entire program is restructured or additional classes added


then alumni are also encouraged to take these classes. Of course, schools
differ from each other in how and to what extent they provide such services
to their alumni. Therefore, if this particular facet of free education appeals to
you, it would be wise to investigate before choosing a school to ensure that
you are getting the maximum benefit.

The costs associated with retraining are often limited to such expenses as lab
fees, books and material fees, parking and such. These expenses, however,
are usually minimal and really worth spending when compared to the value
of what you get in return- fresh education and information relevant to your
career.

Retraining can be especially helpful for graduates who work in fields which
are rapidly changing like information technology or where they now work in
a field outside their qualification but wish to refresh their skills so as to
increase their marketability in their areas of expertise.

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Chapter IX
Conclusion

I confess I have possibly not covered every possible way to obtain a college
education for free. However, the ideas and methods discussed in the
foregoing sections cover the most part of what is in the free education
domain. The choice of the most appropriate method is dictated by your own
personal circumstances and you may find that you could explore multiple
options in your pursuit for free education. In other words, you just need to
investigate, ask questions, and apply for every grant and scholarship that
comes your way as well as consider working for the college you attend to
receive a free education.

Remember that every year thousands of people receive free college


education through the various means we have discussed and there is no
reason why you too can’t do the same. Now that you have the right ideas,
talk to students about what they are doing and what types of scholarships or
grants they are getting. Talk to staff at colleges and find out about their work
study programs and employee education benefits. You may have exercise
discretion while probing about employee education programs as most staff
may not be that forthcoming on the relevant details.

To sum up, if you are determined to find a way of receiving your education
at a tremendous discount or even for free and willing to put in some effort
for this, you will most definitely succeed. And the time spent on it will be
more than made up by the savings you make.

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