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You've probably got a ton of questions about financial aid and paying for college. We know. We've heard 'em. And we've found answers to many of the questions you and your parents are asking.
Paying for college seems overwhelming. Where do I start?
Start with your guidance counselor. He or she will have plenty of resources available to help you get started. If you're homeschooled, or if you go to a small private school with limited resources, take advantage of the services of a local public school guidance counselor.
Ask your guidance counselor about the two broad categories of financial aid--need-based and merit-based. Need-based aid is granted to students who would otherwise have trouble meeting college costs. Merit-based aid is based on a student's high school performance--academic and otherwise. Ask your counselor any questions you or your parents have about the differences between these two types of aid, and how you go about getting them.
Also, talk to someone in the financial aid office at one of the colleges you're considering. Take advantage of their wisdom. They'll be glad to help.
Familiarize yourself with financial aid terminology. Many of these terms are defined on page 12. As you talk to the experts, you'll have a better understanding of what they're talking about as they mention things like the FAFSA and Pell Grants and SEOGs. (Whew!)
There are tons of excellent books on the subject of financial aid. Here are two we'd recommend: College Money Handbook 2003 (Peterson's) and Parent's Guide to Paying for College (College Entrance Exam Board).
The federal government is a good source, too. Get a copy of The Student Guide, a free book on …