April 2, 2010— -- The economy is in a downturn and jobs are hard to come by. And now even those hoping for a college education may find it extremely difficult to get financing or scholarships.
In the last year, the nation's private colleges have laid off staff, shelved construction projects, slashed sports teams and turned down thermostats to cut costs.
The weak economy is forcing some institutions to limit their generosity after many of them doubled or even tripled financial aid over the last decade to attract more applicants and reduce student debt.
Still, there is funding out there. Students just need to be diligent about their search, and wary of scholarship scams.
Here's a list of resources to for scholarship and financial aid information:
• Council for Opportunity in Education. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities.
• Institute for College Access and Success. A nonprofit organization that works to make higher education more available and affordable for people of all backgrounds through supporting nonpartisan research, analysis, and advocacy.
• FinAid. The Web site provides free comprehensive information about scholarships and financial aid.
• U.S. Department of Education. A source of information, provided free by the government, on preparing for and funding education beyond high school.
• Scholarship America. The organization's mission is to mobilize America through scholarships and educational support, making postsecondary education possible for all students.
• College Scholarships.org. Students can search numerous scholarship opportunities on the Web site.
• FastWeb. This Web site offers a free scholarship matching service.
More Resources for College Scholarships
• Student Aid Alliance. An advocacy group pushing for increased funding for federal student aid.
• Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation supports more than 1,400 college students annually with scholarships totaling $3.4 million.
• The United Negro College Fund. This private organization provides operating funds for its 39 member colleges and administers scholarship and internship programs to benefit low- and moderate-income families.
• IBRinfo. This nonprofit provides information about the Income-Based Repayment program, through which federal loan repayments are capped to a reasonable percentage of the borrower's income.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.