Finding money for college

Next to finals week, one of the biggest challenges of college life is financing it. Unlike finals week, however, the search for funding never seems to end. I recently had a conversation with “resident pro” Debra Johnston of the Financial Aid Office at Holy Apostles College & Seminary to find out what advice she can offer students seeking money for college.

Q. Is financial aid available to HACS undergraduate students?

A. Many of our undergraduate students qualify for the federal Pell Grant program, which, in many cases, covers at least half the cost of tuition for an entire academic year. Federal subsidized student loans are available to cover the remainder. In many cases as well, our students are able to attend without borrowing the unsubsidized student loans which incur interest continuously. Some students may need to borrow part of the annual unsubsidized student loans available to them, but certainly most students leave HACS without an excessive amount of debt. Stewardship of resources is a vital part of educating our students at HACS.

Q. Are there any scholarships available?

A. Based on conversations with our own administrators and with my counterparts at other institutions, I can say with some confidence that HACS scholarships are built in to our tuition rates, which are substantially lower than other institutions. HACS may not offer all the “frills” that some larger colleges have, but by keeping our focus on academics, we are able to offer rigorous degree programs at a fraction of the cost. The great thing about this is that every student is awarded a scholarship, in a sense, without extra forms to complete or essays to write. By keeping our tuition low, we are able to put a faithful Catholic education within reach of more students than a few isolated “full-ride” scholarships would provide.

Q. What about external sources of funding?

A. Top-scoring students on standardized tests may qualify for merit-based scholarships such as the National Merit® Scholarship Program. Membership in organizations like Knights of Columbus may help some students qualify for a scholarship. Some organizations only accept applications from long-standing members (e.g., First Catholic Ladies Slovak Association considers applicants who have been members of the organization for 3 years). Others don’t require membership, but limit their applicant pool by some other criteria (e.g., Italian Catholic Federation).

Since there are so many and such various scholarships, scholarship search engines can help students identify sources of aid that may not have occurred to them. Again, I would emphasize that affordable tuition is the real scholarship.

The following sites are generally considered to be reputable sources of information on scholarships. Since scholarship “scams” unfortunately do exist, students are encouraged to exercise prudence before submitting any personal information online. Tip sheets like this Student Bulletin (published by may help students identify and avoid scholarship scams.

Scholarship Search Engines

College Board


College Resource Network


College Toolkit

College View




National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs

OMP Scholarship Directory


Scholarship Experts

Student Savings: The Ultimate Scholarship Resource Guide

Student Scholarship Search


Q. Where can students go for more information?

A. For more information, students and their parents can check out our financial aid information on the main Web site or contact me directly at or (860) 632-3020.

Holy Apostles College and Seminary
Financial Aid Office
33 Prospect Hill Road
Cromwell, CT 06416-2027
(860) 632-3020


Many thanks to Debra Johnston for the scoop, and happy “hunting” to HACS students!

Laura Brown (MA, ’14)
Director of Student Service Center
Alumni Association Member
Mobile: (331) 431-3930