How to secure financial aid for college

How to secure financial aid for college

Nicole McLaren Campbell

Saturday, November 12, 2016

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The US and Canadian college fairs held at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston at the beginning of the month have left many young Jamaicans excited about the many possibilities that exist for studying in the US. Generally speaking, the US provides more scholarship and financial aid opportunities for undergraduate study than any other country, so here are some tips to ensure you get a piece of the pie!

Apply as early as possible

Many universities won’t tell you that they award scholarships and financial aid on a first come, first serve basis, and if your application is too far down in the pile their money may run out before they even have a chance to discover how amazing you are. I have definitely heard this in off-the-record conversations with college representatives. Even if students apply before the official deadline published by a university, it can still be too late!!

Do your Research

"When it comes to financial aid for college, what’s true for some families at some colleges in some years is not true for all families at all colleges every year." Sage advice from
Forbes magazine. Some colleges care about the income of all parents and step-parents (if applicable) when determining what a family can afford to pay. Depending on the situation, some colleges may expect parents to spend up to 47 per cent of their income on financing their child’s college education. Other colleges don’t care about parents’ income in determining aid awards (for merit-based scholarships). Parents must be very clear about what they are willing and able to spend then apply only to the schools that are most likely to fit their budgets. There is little point in applying to a school that it is literally impossible to afford.

Hold off on that remarriage

Well, I just told you that colleges will incorporate the income of any step-parent in determining a student’s need-based financial aid package, so, if parents can put off another marriage until AFTER the student graduates from college it could help increase a financial aid award ...

I know, I know, not very romantic, but hey...

Nicole McLaren Campbell is the founder and CEO of Aim Educational Services, an independent college admissions counsellor, and public speaker. Contact her at

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