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How else can I pay for college besides financial aid?

QUESTION: I am a senior in high school and have found what I think is the perfect school. I have visited this college three times and I really feel like I belong there. It is in another state and will cost around $23,000 a year. I'm applying to about 45 scholarships and for financial aid. What else can I do to get the money? Signed, Show Me The Money

Dear Show Me The Money: A lot of students think that once they turn in their college applications, they are done. But something that you have realized is that there really are two steps to getting onto a college campus. The second step is paying for college.

You are on the right track in applying for financial aid and scholarships. When you apply for financial aid, be sure to fill the paperwork out completely and to provide the financial aid office with other information that may be helpful such as extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances may include extraordinary medical expenses, educational expenses of other family members or a change in the status of your parents' employment.

You are applying to quite a few scholarships. Make sure, however, that your background and achievements fit the purpose of each scholarship and focus on spending some quality time on your applications. It's better to apply to fewer scholarships and submit stronger applications than to apply to too many with weak ones.

The last thing you can do is investigate student loan options. If after receiving your financial aid package and scholarship awards you still have trouble making ends meet, a loan may be the help you need to attend your dream college. Private loans are more expensive than federal loans but can help you get the extra funds that you need.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.