Whether or not you’ll qualify for need-based aid is pretty much outside of your control. There are many factors, like your parents' income, competition, diversity policies of the college, etc.
You should however definitely file a FAFSA form. Worst case, you will get an 'unsubsidized loan', which means your loan is not interest free during your time in college, but at least you have something.
You have much more control over getting private scholarships and merit-based aid offered by colleges themselves. The real power lies in how you perform on standardized tests and, of course, your GPA. But just how valuable is your GPA and test scores when it comes to winning scholarships?
3.5 is the first magic number.
A 3.5 GPA doubles your chances of getting scholarships! The U.S. government has been tracking high school student performance in a nationwide study that began in 2009. As of 2013, their findings showed that students who have an unweighted GPA of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) are twice as likely to win private scholarships as students with a lower GPA, according to Mark Kantrowitz, a student aid expert and publisher of the scholarship search engine Cappex.com.
If you are struggling with your GPA, come talk to us. We can help you improve your GPA. Get to the magic mark of 3.5!
30+ ACT is the second magic number.
Your ACT score might be an even better indicator of whether or not you’ll qualify for merit-based financial aid, says Joseph Orsolini, a college aid planning expert based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
“At many colleges, an ACT score of 30+ is sort of a magic door to maximizing scholarship money,” he tells Teen Vogue.
At the University of Alabama, for example, in-state students are eligible scholarships, valued at $3,500 to $10,470 per year. You’ll need at least a 27 ACT score or 1280-1300 (new SAT) score to have a shot at the lowest award available. But students who have a 30 ACT score are immediately eligible for the most coveted of all academic awards — a full-ride scholarship worth a total of $41,800 over four years.
Some colleges have online calculators to estimate how much merit scholarship you can get based on your SAT, ACT and GPA. Examples: Pace University in New York, Bradley University in Illinois, Arizona State University in Arizona.
Improve your ACT and SAT scores. Make an appointment with us and we will guide you through our Assessment Prescription Method (APM) and our ultimate learning tool, the Smart Scoring System. The Smart Scoring System can identify your academic strengths and weaknesses and help you understand your learning style. It is the ultimate guide for discovering the most effective methods and strategies that make you learn faster and succeed in less time.