Finding the Funds for College

Are you thinking about college – and concerned about its ever-rising costs?  At CCFA, we understand the impact of medical expenses on a family budget, but don't let fear of finances stop you from pursuing your educational ambitions to the max. 

You can certainly find ways to make college affordable, as long as you're prepared to do some serious homework. We've compiled a brief guide to locating and pursuing America's huge array of scholarships, grants, loans, and other combinations of financial aid.  

Getting a Grant

The most desirable types of financial aid are the categories you won't have to repay. As a flexible guideline, grants are usually based on financial need; scholarships are awarded for "merit."

Among leading grant sources are two large, need-based federal programs. Pell Grants currently provide up to $5,775 per year.  Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOGs) are up to $4,000.  To qualify for either, applicants fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. 

Many states have their own programs, basing allocations on your family's financial information. One is CalGrants, a state-funded agency to help California students pay their college expenses ( To learn more about your state's program, as well as SEOG and Pell grants, check with your high school's counseling office.

The nonprofit Foundation Center, a leading philanthropy clearinghouse, tracks grants and fellowships, often at the graduate level.  You can find a wealth of free information on their Web site ( and at their five regional libraries.

Seeking Scholarships

Hundreds of thousands of scholarships are offered in America, many by individual colleges as well as those not connected to a particular college. Awards can be as modest as $100, or as generous as full tuition at a respected university.  Whatever their value, scores of scholarships go unclaimed because people do not know about them.

How can you qualify?  Scholarships may focus on academic or athletic achievements, community activities, aspirations, background, type of disability, disease or other factors.  Locating them is literally a treasure hunt. Your high school's college office has information on large, well-known awards like the National Merit Scholarship. Discovering less-known, potentially appropriate awards invites ingenuity and persistence.    

Investigate scholarships in your career interest. Aspiring news anchors searching "Broadcaster" + scholarships will find over 100,000 sources, including state and national broadcaster associations, and many individual colleges.  

Some religious or ethnic groups offer scholarships. Since 1975, the Hispanic College Fund ( has awarded over 68,000 scholarships, worth more than $144 million, in all 50 states.  The American Chemical Society ( awards up to $3,000 per year to qualified black, Hispanic, or American Indian students who plan to become chemists, biochemists, chemical engineers, etc.

Children of veterans, union members, and employees of major corporations are often eligible for scholarships. Check with the Veterans Administration ( or the Human Resources office of your parent's employer. The AFL-CIO's huge "UnionPlus Scholarship Data Base" describes over $4 million in available awards and includes applications  Nearly 38,000 local U.S. unions offer scholarships, too; contact your state's AFL-CIO office.

Many major companies, such as Coca Cola,, Target, and Starbucks have generous scholarship and college achievement programs.

Explore your hometown for possibilities. The Chamber of Commerce might help identify prospects, which can include local businesses, fraternal organizations, charities, community groups, and other entities.    

There are also scholarships available for people with disabilities and chronic diseases such as Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis including:

  • The AbbVie Immunology Scholarship will offer recipients who are chosen by the sponsor AbbVie, an award of up to $15,000 dependent on the type of degree pursued. It is available to students who are seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited U.S. university/college or trade school. To learn further details, please visit:  
  • The Intense Intestines Foundation offers a $500 scholarship to help patients overcome the challenges to school with IBD.  Legal residents of the USA who have been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease or ulcerative colitis, who are pursuing higher education or a trade/technical degree are eligible to apply.  To learn move visit: 
  • The Patient Advocate Foundation offer scholarships to individuals under the age of 25 diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis and other diseases.  They offer twelve $3,000 scholarships per year.  Visit to learn more.

Some scholarship Web sites charge fees to subscribe. However, with many excellent free sites available, your search doesn't need to cost a cent.  (With "free" registration, the sponsor usually shares your contact information with colleges and student marketing firms.) Some excellent resources are  and      

Masses of scholarship information are in hefty, expensive print directories.  If you'd rather not buy one, find them at your public library or high school college/career office.  Scholarships are classified by subject (e.g., biology), type of sponsor (e.g., corporation), location (e.g., state programs), application characteristics (e.g. heritage or disability), and other categories. Annually updated, the best-known guides include Peterson's Scholarships, Grants and Prizes (Thomson-Peterson's), The Scholarship Book (Prentice-Hall), and the Scholarship Handbook (College Board). 

Don't narrow your opportunities. Applying for several different scholarships improves your odds of receiving at least one. Any scholarship is a point of pride and an impressive resume entry. 

Financing 101

The prerequisite for most types of financial aid – from either government or individual colleges – is the detailed FAFSA form, which you can download or complete on-line (  Once the government determines your award, each school incorporates that information into setting your financial aid package. If you need assistance with FAFSA, try to get help at a college or high school financial aid office.

Over half of students pay at least some college expenses through a loan. The most desirable are subsidized loans, which have lower interest rates. Repayment does not begin until after graduation. The U.S. government runs two subsidized loan programs, the Stafford and the Perkins. An unsubsidized Stafford loan category accrues interest, but the student can defer all interest payments while still in school (
For a good round-up of commercial student loans, visit either College Funding Services ( or  The College Board has a series of clear, straightforward articles about all types of loans under "Loan Center" at

Other Resources

In addition to scholarships, a new resource for support and education for college age students is our Campus Connection program.  At this website college students will find tips for adjusting to their new environment, can learn how to participate in local chapter events and how to volunteer and become an advocate for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) mission, as well as find and connect with other students through our interactive map.

Finally check out other resources for teens and young adults including our brochure, A Guide for Teens with IBD and the fact sheet Young Adult and IBD

For further information, call Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's IBD Help Center: 888.MY.GUT.PAIN (888.694.8872).

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation provides information for educational purposes only. We encourage you to review this educational material with your health care professional. The Foundation does not provide medical or other health care opinions or services. The inclusion of another organization's resources or referral to another organization does not represent an endorsement of a particular individual, group, company or product.

About this resource

Published: January 1, 2016

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