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Gift Aid -- Grants and Scholarships

Gift aid refers to grants, scholarships and similar funds that do not have to be paid back.

Grants

The largest source of money, the Federal Pell Grant program, is aimed at undergraduates whose families meet certain income requirements.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are for undergraduates with exceptional financial need.

Individual states often have their own grant programs. Check the U.S. Department of Education's list of states' higher education agencies; some have their own Web sites.

If you or your spouse are a veteran or the dependent of a veteran, check with your local Veterans' Affairs office to see if special educational benefits are available.

Scholarships

Scholarships, which usually are merit-based, can come from the government, private organizations or educational institutions.

The FastWEB service offers a free, personalized and comprehensive list of scholarships that might fit your circumstances. An alternative service, also free, is offered by The College Board.

You also should check with your high school's guidance office and the public library, as well as your employers, unions and associations.

But be careful. While you are hunting for money to pay for college, don't get taken by scholarship search scams.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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