By AMY MILLER

amiller@tnonline.com [1]

With the new school year just around the corner, college students and parents are beginning to prepare for a whole new chapter of life.

Besides moving out of their parents' home and into the world of dorm-living, these soon-to-be small fish in a very big pond are finding themselves worrying about what they need to bring, who their friends will be and how they will pay for the next four years of college.

But students and their parents shouldn't worry too much. There is help out there in the form of scholarships, where companies are throwing money at students who meet the qualifications and apply. Websites like fastweb.com can help you score hundreds, or even thousands in free cash for college.

Fastweb.com helps students find scholarships by bringing the offers to them. All you have to do is sign up for an account, provide your interests, areas of study, and a few other details, and voila, offers that are available to students begin to pour in.

According to my fastweb.com account, which I signed up for a few years back to help me find scholarship offers to publish in the TIMES NEWS annual graduation edition, I have 26 potential sources of free money based on my interests, areas of study and personal demographics.

Each potential scholarship varies in amount, from a $500 blog scholarship offer to a $25,000 academic ambassadorial scholarship. This goes to show you that you or your parents don't have to get a second, third, or fourth job to pay off your college education. You just have to find where the funding sources are.

Some of the featured scholarship opportunities available are a study abroad scholarship; fine arts or performing arts scholarship; Pennsylvania Farm Show scholarship; and more. Below is just a few of the hundreds of scholarships out there. Take the time and help yourself (and your parents) make your college education and experience a little less costly.

If you are interested in spending a year abroad, the Academic-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship may be for you. This $25,000 scholarship is awarded to students who plan to take one academic year of study in another country. There are requirements that you must meet to be eligible for entry so check out http://www.rotary.org [2], keyword ambassadorial scholarship.

The GO! Study Abroad Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship that is available to undergraduate students who plan to study abroad during their college career. This scholarship requires two essays or a video essay. Full details can be found at http://www.go-study-abroad.com [3].

In the Vacancy.com Blog Scholarship, students who blog are eligible. To apply, you must write an essay on why an apartment you found on vacancy.com is your ideal apartment and post it to your blog. If you do this, as well as meet all the other requirements, and the company chooses your blog, you can score $500 for your education. A complete list of requirements can be found at http://www.vacancy.com/scholarship [4].

For those who are current or previous members of 4-H or National FFA Organization, there is a scholarship available to you. If you have participated in the Pennsylvania Farm Show, you are eligible. A complete list of rules can be found at http://www.farmshow.state.pa.us/page/scholarshipfoundation.aspx [5].

These scholarships are just a few of the thousands available to you. You just need to find them.

So remember, if you are a soon-to-be college freshman, or even a sophomore, junior or senior, it's never to late to start looking for financial help.

Now get out there and score some free money!