Nitro Contributor Updated on March 8, 2017

Whether you just want to borrow less going forward or are short the funds for next year, here are a few ways to try and boost the amount of free money you receive.

1. Call the school financial aid office.

There is almost nothing more important that you can do to get more money than to contact the financial aid office. Why? They can tell you if there is a scholarship award you could still receive. There may have been applicants who turned down their scholarship money, freeing it up for someone else to receive. Why not you?

The financial aid office can also recommend community scholarships you could apply for, or possibly give you an emergency loan while you wait for other loans to arrive. Take the opportunity to discuss your financial strategy for next year's scholarships.

2. Do a vetted google search

Googling can be a great way to find scholarships, but it can also be tricky navigating  an overwhelming list of results. Beware websites that try to collect your personal information--social security number, bank account numbers, etc. Do a targeted search for scholarships specific to your interests or characteristics. For instance, you can seek scholarships for piano players or individuals with red hair. Copy and paste scholarship and website information into a doc, then bring it to your high school counselor to make sure they’re legit and a good fit for you. If you’re already in college, talk to your financial aid counselor.

3. Fill out a special circumstances form

The special circumstances form available from financial aid offices is a great helper for students in need of funds. Why? FAFSA forms go by your income from a previous year. Incomes and financial need change. If your parents were laid off or had an income reduction, notify the financial aid office of the change. You may get additional grants or need-based scholarships you didn’t previously qualify for. If you reported your income on the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) form, notify them if your income drops. If you never filled out the FAFSA, do so now. You can’t get money for college unless you ask for it.

 Check out 6 Tips for Winning Scholarships for more ways to earn scholarship money.

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