The price of higher education in America is increasing at an alarming rate and many people are left to wonder how they will be able to afford college. Most people have to resort to different means of financial aid and scholarships. Not many students can just pay the entire cost of higher education out of pocket. The first step in paying for college is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is very helpful for students and colleges. The FAFSA is pretty simple to fill out as long as you have the right information from your parents. The main purpose of the FAFSA is for colleges to understand your financial situation and what financial aid you are available for. If you plan on receiving the HOPE or Zell Miller scholarship, then you must fill out the FAFSA because that is what the state uses to determine if you receive these scholarships. The HOPE and Zell are both merit-based scholarships that are funded by the Georgia Lottery for Education. To be eligible for the HOPE scholarship you must graduate from a HOPE-eligible high school, which includes HHS, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and have passed at least 4 rigor courses. These courses can be found on the HHS website. To receive the HOPE scholarship every year of college, you have to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. The Zell Miller scholarship is more rigorous than the HOPE scholarship. To be eligible, you have to graduate from a HOPE-eligible high school as the valedictorian or salutatorian or “graduate from an eligible high school with a minimum 3.7 grade point average (as calculated by GSFC) combined with a minimum score of 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a minimum composite score of 26 on the ACT test in a single national test administration and meet all HOPE Scholarship eligibility requirements” (GAfutures.org). Both of these scholarships only cover a certain amount of your tuition. They do not cover the entire cost of attendance. The HOPE covers only a portion of your standard tuition up to 15 hours while the Zell Miller scholarship covers your full standard tution up to 15 hours. These amounts are for public universities and colleges in Georgia. Public institutions have different amounts that are often lower than public institutions. Most people will either receive one or the other of these scholarships, but you can still receive other scholarships that will cover other areas of your cost of attendance. There are a ton of scholarships that you can apply for. Some scholarships are super easy to apply for because you just put in your basic information and you are automatically entered. These types of scholarships, however, are most of the time like a drawing and are for small amounts. Don’t let that stop you. You should apply for as many scholarships as possible because any amount of money can help you. There are also scholarships that are really weird and specific like being related to someone with a disease or being part-Cherokee Indian. Like I said before, apply for these too because any amount helps. Most other scholarships are merit-based meaning you have to meet certain academic requirements and usually offer bigger award amounts. Our school counselors are very helpful when finding scholarships. They have a huge list of ones on their website with due dates, who’s eligible, and where to apply. If you’re not a senior, then use this article as a guide for your senior year. If you are a senior, then I would encourage you to seriously use this information and advice so that you’re not in debt after graduating college. Deadlines are approaching so you better apply for as many scholarships as you can.