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© 2007, Tamara Wright

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Table of contents


I have been a student at a private college and I currently work for another private college.

When I worked in the financial aid department of one career based college I would sit down face to face with potential students and their families.

I have seen first hand, time and time again, while a private college education can cost tens of thousands of dollars, anyone with a little ingenuity and a lot of self motivation and confidence can get their college education at a drastically reduced price and in many cases even for free.

Almost all of the students and parents I have sat down with to explain the options available are not aware of what is available for them to use to further their college education.

Some things we tell students about is standard information that everyone receives when they speak to financial aid counselors. A chosen few, usually based on their needs are informed about a few other closely guarded secrets.

You can now learn those secrets as you read this report, Free College.

This book is dedicated to all current and future college students young and old who would like to get their college education for little or no cost.


Chapter One: The First Twelve Years

Free education is a luxury all to often taken for granted by children as well as young adults barely coming to the end of their senior year of high school. Yes, high school graduation is a time when the realization of the fact that they’re about to be catapulted into the “real world” a place that creates fear and trepidation of the unknown, a time when the value of all those years of free education suddenly comes crashing down like an icy cascade of water that jolts a person from a deep sleep. It is when the knowledge of how they utilized or didn’t utilize their free gift will be put to practical use. It is also a time that finally puts a real dollar amount on education; yes after high school many have the rude awakening that from that point on education is anything but free.

Most often when a person, especially one right out of high school is sitting in front of a financial aid officer at any college the reaction is the same. Facial expressions of shock and disbelief and sometimes even anger are the normal fare for the poor officers who often have to take a “Don’t kill the messenger” approach to the shocking news that there is no such thing as a free education.

Financial Aid is just that, aid or help in the forms of grants, scholarships, loans, and other programs designed to help select persons achieve their educational goals. However, many times most of the help or aid comes in the form of loans that must be paid back after the student graduates, and with some loans payback actually has to start while the student is still in school. You also have to remember something called the shortfall or the part of the expenses that are not covered by the different forms of financial aid thus leaving a monthly payment that must be paid directly to the school itself. This too is something that is forgotten about or not even thought of in the first place by many.

But do not lose heart! There are many ways to get a free college education and this report will provide you with the information and resources you need to minimize or eliminate altogether in many cases the costly expense of education. We present real examples and tactics being used by real people to earn real degrees. The ideas and procedures found in this report have helped them to earn everything from Associates degrees all the way up to Masters degree or higher and there is no reason why these ideas won’t work for you.

The following information will touch upon and examine in detail many if the individual ways of obtaining a free education. We will look at websites, programs, scholarships and many other opportunities that are not widely known; yet they are highly effective. So prepare to be catapulted into the very real world of free education.

Chapter Two: Fast Web and Other Scholarship Websites

There are literally thousands of philanthropic organizations as well as private parties who are ready and willing to give financial aid to students who show even the slightest degree of commitment and drive. The challenge is taking the time to sort through all of the possibilities to successfully identify the legitimate opportunities.

That’s where Fast Web comes in to play. Fast Web claims to be the most complete source of local, national and college specific scholarships, Fast Web states on their website that they have access to 1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.

How does Fast Web know which scholarships and grants you specifically are eligible for? First you go to and set up an account. The usual information is required of course, such as, name address, etc. However the next few pages ask you for very specific input, such as income, nationality, likes and dislikes. These seemingly random questions are not at all just for general information. They are designed to pinpoint which specific organizations that offer grants and scholarships will benefit you personally.

Questions that may not appear important or better put, necessary, are sometimes very pertinent to obtaining certain scholarships. For example, stating the nationality of one may open the way to obtain a scholarship aimed specifically at minority or tribal groups.

Then, based on your survey, you will receive more information on how to apply for the scholarships you personally qualify for. Some organizations require that you write an essay explaining why you should receive the scholarship. Others simply ask you to provide proof of income or provide more information depending on which institution is granting the scholarship. After your initial survey you will find that from that point on, you will receive, for years to come, e-mails on new scholarships available to you already connected to the information you filled out about yourself. Then you decide if it sounds like something that interests you and if is an opportunity you would like to apply for, but the option is always yours.

At any rate, as you learn the system, you will find that you should apply for as many grants and scholarships as you can and there is no limit to how many you can potentially qualify for. There is no guarantee of receiving the funds but the odds are very good that you can be among the hundreds of thousands that do receive this type of “Free Education”.

For more information visit

Following are a list of additional websites that will inform you of grants and scholarships available.

Chapter Three: More Scholarship Websites

Besides Fast web there are many other websites that claim to help students finance their education through scholarships. To assure myself of which ones are legitimate, I visited a financial aid office of a local private college and asked for up to date information on where to obtain scholarships and grants. The financial aid officer handed me a paper that had a list of the following top websites recommended by them as well as other colleges. Fast web as you can see is the first on the list, however it is followed by others that are equally interested in providing assistance to students looking to locate legitimate sources of grants scholarships.

Chapter Four: Maintain Your Financial Aid By Being a Dedicated Student

You wake up one morning feeling no desire to get out of bed. Even though you’re not sick and you know that you have class in an hour you still just want to lie there and think it won’t hurt to miss today. While this might be true in a few unusual cases the reality is that missing class can hurt you economically in the long run if you aren’t careful. The fact is that in terms of receiving Financial Aid for education, there are two conditions that must be met and maintained by students if they want to continue receiving such assistance.

One criterion for receiving Financial Aid is a student’s completion rate. Most do not realize how financially devastating it can be to them if they make a habit out of skipping classes. Yes, if you do not complete a certain amount of your class time you will be cut off from and not qualify again for a very long time for federal financial funding.

The government will require you to maintain a 65% completion rate to continue loaning funds to you. Many uninformed students just “blow off” their classes and get a shock later when college officials inform them that they have lost their Federal Aid and now must apply for a private loan in order to continue their studies. This unfortunate situation can last for one or in many cases several semesters. Remember, the completion rate average has to be recalculated and must reach 65% and stay there for you to qualify for government assistance.

Another aspect of the completion rate is the fact that the school must, because of government regulations, drop a student if a certain amount of classes are not attended. Some students do not understand that a chain reaction can be started with the end result being the loss government funding. While such an unfortunate situation is not impossible to recover from, if you find yourself in such a condition it can be difficult and at best very distracting when what you should be concentrating on most of all is your studies and keeping up good grades.

This brings us to another very important factor in receiving and maintaining federal financial aid, that is, keeping a good grade point average. Many students are concerned about their GPA, however, they are not always aware of the negative impact it can have on their financial assistance if their grades drop. Failing to maintain their grades at acceptable levels has often caused many students to go into shock and shed tears when they realize that they must either get a private loan or leave school before graduation.

So the next time you feel tempted too miss class for any reason, please remember that you could be in danger of negatively impacting you education in general and especially putting yourself at risk of losing some of the free money that could be potentially available to help you reach your educational goals.

If you have an unavoidable situation that makes it necessary to miss some classes, immediately get in touch with the proper department at your school so they can attempt to keep you in good standing with your funding sources. Remember it is to both yours and your college’s mutual benefit to keep you in school. They will do anything and

Chapter Five: Reap The Benefits of College Work Study and Student Worker programs

One of the major ways to cut down the cost of education and receive financial aid while attending college is through the numerous college work-study programs that most if not all institutions offer to qualifying students. Students who meet an accepted level of proficiency usually a grade point average of at least 2.0 or higher and who have an adequate completion rate can take advantage of such programs to assist them in cutting down costs and increasing their financial aid.

These programs are designed to support diligent students who really apply themselves to their education. Many students are not aware of the fact that they can apply to work at their college and receive compensation. Opportunities available include programs where the student’s income comes directly from the school itself or comes from the government and is a part of the student financial aid program. Positions available include but are not limited to, tutoring, assisting in student services, the library, the IT department, the list goes on.

To take advantage of these positions you must first and foremost be an excellent student.

Then you need to approach either the Career Development Center or the Financial Aid Office, since many of the in school work positions are actually funded by government financial aid programs. If you qualify because of GPA and completion rates then you only have to worry about the same things you would be concerned with when trying to get a job elsewhere.

Many students think of this type of job as less important and thus give it a less than professional approach. While it is true that generally students attend school in various casual forms of attire i.e., jeans and t-shirts etc. you should always follow accepted rules of professionalism in dress. You will definitely get the preference over a fellow applicant if you apply for a position wearing professional dress or business casual attire and he is dressed like a student.

Student workers enjoy many benefits while working for the school they attend. For example some of the more obvious benefits are you will be “close” to work after class is out. Think of how much commuting time you will save when all you have to do to get to your job is in many cases walk down a hallway or maybe take a few flights of stairs or the elevator and at most you may have to drive over to another part of the campus.

Another benefit is the work experience you will obtain from your job. Many times recent graduates feel the frustration of having to wait to get that perfect job in the field of their choice due to needing a certain amount of real world work experience. However, if you have worked while attending college you will have a head start that can make a big difference in how a potential employer views you as a valuable employee.

Many student workers have been hired as permanent employees by their colleges after and in some cases even before graduation. This is because they are already familiar with the student’s work ethic and personality. Often times new graduates are even offered management positions. The former student worker already has a good idea of how things work at the school and thus has an easier time of transitioning in to such a role. Also many times a diligent student worker has learned a great deal of interpersonal skills, because career focused and private colleges are especially customer service driven entities. This brings us to another topic regarding free education. Attending college for free as a company benefit.

Chapter Six: Free Education as a Company Benefit

Many companies and corporations today provide benefits to their employees so they can attract, hire and keep the best-qualified people. Benefits such as dental and medical insurance and pension plans do a lot to make working for a company and remaining a long time loyal employee a winning proposition for its workforce.

While providing benefits for the worker many companies are interested in ways to provide both benefit to the employees and to the company its self. One of the many benefits that more and more companies offer today that help their employees and bring benefit to the company as well, are various Tuition Reimbursement and Employee Waiver Programs for employees who are attending college. Receiving a college education certainly is a great “perk” for a worker and a college-educated employee, in most cases, brings greater value to the job.

Company sponsored education programs pay various annual amounts depending on an employee’s time on the job and the relevancy of the program or studies to the employee’s job description. Check with your HR department for details on available tuition reimbursement benefits.

Another benefit to the employee is the tax exemption that they can receive as a student. Check with your HR department and your accountant to learn more about tax benefits.

In order to qualify for tuition reimbursement programs you may have to meet certain reachable criteria. For example, you may have to agree to remain on the job for a certain amount of time after obtaining your degree. You might also be required to maintain your GPA (grade point average) at a certain level. You may have to show proof of classes being taken. And some employers may also require you to finish the program in a certain period of time.

While there are usually requirements an employee must meet to receive free college (tuition reimbursement) from their employer, whatever the requirements, they are more times than not, very attainable and well worth the effort.

The benefits of obtaining a higher education will follow you long after you move on to a different job. In cases where employees choose to stay and climb the corporate ladder, they are helping the company as well themselves. Investigating your employer’s details and requirements for educational tuition reimbursements beforehand, will help you to decide if your company’s tuition reimbursement plan is right for you.

Consider the following. A very well known dental insurance company provides the best dental insurance to its employees. This pleases both the employee and the care providers and lends credibility to the insurance when each and every employee from building maintenance to the President of the company can say to the public at large, “I have this insurance and it is great.”

[Side bar: It was disturbing to me when I asked a hospital employee about the service at her hospital. Her reply to me was, “I really can’t say, my insurance doesn’t cover me to go here.” End of Sidebar]

Many automobile dealerships provide cars for certain valued employees to drive. This of course makes the employee very happy but it also helps the company’s image, when people see the employee driving the car the company sells instead of a competitor’s model.

Another example is Airlines providing free air transportation to its employees. This perk not only makes employees and their families extremely happy it helps fill airline seats with happy passengers.

What if the company you work for is a school?

In the same vein of the examples above many if not all private and career focused colleges provide free education to their staff. What a great win/win/win situation for all three; the employee, the college and the students all benefit. The employee gets a free education in a certificate or degree program. The school gets a loyal employee and student and other students see workers at the school attending the college where they work, “this must be a very nice college, even the employees attend here.”

In light of the above, next, we will discuss how you can get a free college education simply by getting a job at your local private, career based college.

Question: Do you put the cart before the horse or the horse before the cart?

Answer: In some instances you must put the cart before the horse. Read on to find out why.

Chapter Seven: Free Education as a Company Benefit When Your Company is a College

As we discussed in the last chapter there are employers that will provide its employees with a certain amount of reimbursement for college tuition. However, a well guarded secret is, many times at a college one of the employee benefits is being able to attend tuition free. This comes in various names such as tuition waiver, employee waiver, tuition reduction and tuition remission. The important thing to ask when considering these benefits in terms of free education is will they allow you to earn a degree while working flexible hours on the job.

There was a time when I did not know about the secret of working at a college to attend it as a student and receive a free education. Let me share with you how I found out about this aspect of free college. I was planning on attending a Career-Focused college and I made the necessary visit to the financial aid office to determine how I would finance my education.

The Financial Aid officer was running down the list of all the different options I was qualified to receive in order to finance my new career in Business Administration. She was friendly, knowledgeable and very talkative, that is until we got to a part in our conversation where I asked her about her being a student.

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