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How to get last-minute college financial aid

Published: Monday, Aug. 18 2014 3:05 p.m. MDT

Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 19 2014 6:12 a.m. MDT

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vetkit, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fall semester for college students starts up in just a couple weeks, but if you haven’t figured out exactly how to pay for tuition, don’t worry. Here are three last-minute financial aid options.

1. Fill out the free government FAFSA application

The government offers some surprisingly good deals on paying for college. Both loans and grants are given to students who fit the criteria. Most grants will cover full or close to full tuition for most students.

You may doubt your eligibility for government loans and grants, but you may be surprised, they are frequently doled out to nontraditional students.

Advice: Go for the grants over the loans. Grants don’t need to be paid back, so they’re the obvious choice. But if you’re in a position where you need some extra cash to get you through the semester, subsidized student loans from a reliable source are the smarter option over credit cards and bank loans.

2014-2015 deadline: June 30, 2015. National loans and grants can work retroactively. But remember, state loan and grant deadlines are much earlier, typically before October.

2. Last-minute scholarships

It’s a bit late in the game when it comes to scholarships, most awarded by mid-spring, but there are a few with later deadlines.

Ayn Rand’s scholarship essay contest is up and running until Oct. 24, 2014.

College is Power is a scholarship opportunity for anyone 17 and older, though it is not an option for non-U.S. citizens. Students have until Aug. 31, 2014, to apply.

College JumpStart Scholarship is one of the few merit-based scholarships still accepting applicants; students can apply until Oct. 17, 2014.

A great resource to find other scholarships that are still around for the taking is Scholarships.com

3. Appeal to your network

If you’re really in a bind, you may need to crowd-fund your education. Instead of asking one relative or friend for a loan to cover tuition, consider crowd-funding websites. Crowd-funding has helped make movies, pay medical bills and yes, pay for college.

There are three main websites that have shown success in raising money for college tuition. GoFundMe.com boasts being the most successful personal fundraising site.

GradSaveGift.org allows everything from last-minute funding to long-term savings plans for parents of young children. GiveCollege.com works a lot like Kickstarter for college students.

EMAIL: nshepard@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: @NicoleEShepard

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