Even if you're in a lucky position where your parents can afford to pay for your college tuition, it's worth looking into scholarship possibilities, either need-based or merit-based.

College is expensive, so it certainly makes sense to check out any possible financial assistance. And hey, you can brag that you are a scholarship recipient! But if you haven't even chosen your school, why should you worry about scholarships now? Because some scholarship applications require essays and it's important to ensure that you meet deadlines.

Need-based aid: Here are just a few common starting places from the many websites that list scholarships. Think creatively about who you are and what you offer - there may be a scholarship out there for you.

FastWeb (www.fastweb.com) Student Advantage (scholaraid.studentadvantage.com) Scholarship Search Engine (www.studentaid.ed.gov) Merit-based aid: Many schools offer merit-based aid. This money is for the top applicants or for applicants that bring something the school needs: a talent, like athletics or music, for example. What do YOU do? Go to all your favorite colleges' websites and look at the financial aid section. If there are scholarships, you'll see them listed along with the policies on how they are awarded. Think creatively - perhaps get a list of all schools with such scholarships and add one or two new schools to your list to increase your chances of earning one.