4 Ways to Boost Your Financial Aid Chances

Last Updated Jan 4, 2011 5:08 PM EST

Want to increase your chances of getting financial aid from a college?

Dumb question, right? Of course you do. In this video, I share four ways to boost the odds of capturing financial aid or scholarships from your dream school:


Choose test-optional schools.

If you bomb on the SAT or ACT, don't panic. More than 830 colleges and universities don't care what your scores are. Admission offices at these schools will evaluate you without the test scores. You can find the list of test-optional schools at FairTest.

Look beyond your home town.

About 50% of students attend colleges within 100 miles of their homes. Even if your academic profile isn't sterling, you may get a break from schools which are one or more time zones away. Schools crave geographic diversity among their student bodies.

Find the right fit.

Colleges don't have unlimited money to award students so most of them tend to save the biggest financial aid packages and scholarships for the applicants they really want. To boost your chances of this money, apply to schools where you'd be in the top 25% to 33% of the applicants. You can compare your grade point averages and test scores with recent freshmen classes by looking at college profiles on the College Board's website.

Leverage your gender.

Women can enjoy a gender advantage at schools that focus on engineering and technology. During a recent admission year, for instance, MIT accepted 22% of women applicants and just 9% of male applicants. In contrast, men can enjoy an advantage at some liberal arts colleges where the majority of students are usually women.

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