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Obtaining Your Degree, Debt Free

So it's time to plan for college, and part of that means figuring out how to pay for it. While student loans may be a strong possibility for your financial solution, there's another solution that won't put you deeply in debt: grants! Here are four tips for making sure you get a piece of the grant money that's out there waiting to be found.

1) Be sure you fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. File it as soon as you can (the recommendation is to fill it out and send it in as close to January 1 as possible) and that you've filled it out completely. This form will determine your eligibility for federal student aid, which includes student loans and need-based grant programs, like the Pell grant.

2) Check the Federal Student Aid website for application and qualification requirements. Some grants are based on financial need, such as the Pell Grant. Others are based on qualifying High School coursework. For example, you can apply for the Academic Competitiveness Grant in addition to your Pell grant, if you meet the requirements for coursework presented in the list of requirements.

3) Consider pursuing a major in math or science. The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grant is for students who are majoring in fields such as physical science, math, engineering and physical science. A list of eligible fields of study for the SMART grant.

4) Check sites such as for lists of grant and scholarship possibilities. These sites are great stockpiles of collage funding ideas, from lists of available sources of funding, to ideas on how to score the most aid you can with your essay answers and application information.

Overall, the ultimate way to obtain the most financial aid possible is to apply, apply, apply. Spread your information around, and you're bound to come up with the right combination of financing options that will give you a debt-free start to the career you'll be working so hard for.