College tuition is known to rise at approximately twice the rate of inflation. From 1958 to 2001, the average annual tuition inflation rate was between 6% and 9% according to FinAid.org. As colleges and universities try to function on endowments that may be hurting from the recession, scholarships opportunities may feel as though they’re far and few between. If you’re about to start college this fall, you’re probably feeling the effects of the rising costs as you work to make sure your financial aid package is complete. As a way to beat the rising costs of education, your search for scholarships and grants should be in full gear all year round, not just in the months leading up to the scholarship deadline. Making small preparations and doing research throughout the year can help to lower your bill in the fall. It can also help you stay away from student loans , which can really be a burden later. How to Maximize Scholarships and Grants for School 1. Apply for federal grants and financial aid When applying for federal aid, you’ll need to make sure you complete your FAFSA , which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Once you’ve completed your FAFSA, notify your financial aid office at your school and complete any additional steps. You’ll need to complete your FAFSA so that you can apply for the Pell Grant , which is a federal grant issued to undergraduate students that does not need to be repaid. The maximum Pell Grant is $5,550, but the actual amount you can receive will depend on your financial situation as well as the cost of the school you plan on attending. 2. Search your school’s website for scholarships While it may sound obvious, it’s really important to know what your school offers in terms of scholarships. Visit their financial aid page and search for their scholarship listings. You might even call the financial aid office to make sure that the website page has been updated recently. They may have other scholarship resources that aren’t listed. If you know the area of study that you’re going to pursue at school, call or visit that department to see if any departmental scholarships are available. While most departmental scholarships are available only for returning students, you may stumble across a few that will allow you to apply as an incoming student. 3. Seek out private scholarships in your community One of the best resources for local scholarships is your high school guidance counselor’s office. Call the school or visit the office to search for application for rotary scholarships, women’s auxiliary scholarships, or awards from local businesses. While the amount may not be as great as the scholarships from your college or university, they certainly can add up. Every dollar from a scholarship is one less dollar that you have to repay in student loans! 4. Search for scholarships and grants online The information is out there, you simply need to find it. With hundreds of scholarship articles out there, it can be hard to sift through the good, bad, and the ugly. Here are a few sites that I’ve researched and looked through for scholarship and grant information: College Board Scholarship Search College.gov | How to Pay Students.Gov Federal Student Aid FastWeb FedMoney.org Hopefully these tips can help you or your student maximize the scholarships and grants that are available to them. Be sure to share these tips via facebook and twitter – you might just save someone thousands of dollars! You never know! Maybe you’ve already been through college. Did you receive any scholarships or grants? How did you pay for school? Meet us in the comments! Related Articles: College Debt & The Student Loan Trap How To Avoid Taking Out Student Loans 8 Reasons Why The Best College Savings Plan is a 529 How To Get More Value Out of Your College Education What You Need to Know Before You Get a Student Loan Should You Use Retirement Savings For Your Kid’s College? Should college students be issued credit cards? Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook . The articles on this site are for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as financial advice. Please contact a financial professional for specific advice regarding your situation. Also, many of the CPF articles help us pay the bills by using affiliate relationships with Amazon, Google, eBay and others. Find out more here .