The cost of college can seem daunting at times. And each year, colleges seem to be more expensive. But there are so many ways to combat the rising cost that can make attending college affordable and beneficial to you. Let’s focus on scholarships today, ok?

Just so that we are on the same page, the definition of a scholarship, according to dictionary.com, refers to:

  • a sum of money or other aid granted to a student, because of merit, need, etc., to pursue his or her studies.

I know you’re asking- but where are these scholarships? They are literally everywhere. Did you know that each year tons of scholarship money goes unawarded because students simply did not apply? So, let’s go over some.

  1. If your family has a particular college in mind, find out what scholarships are offered at the school. Many times, these scholarships are merit based; this simply means that the applicant (future student) must meet certain requirements to be considered for the scholarship. For example, you may see this – the highest tier award at a college requires a minimum 3.8 unweighted grade point average (GPA) and a 30 ACT or its SAT equivalent. Let’s break this down.
    – more and more colleges use the unweighted GPA so that all students are on a level playing field. I have received transcripts where high schools give “extra” GPA points if the student happens to be a class officer; this then boosts the “weighted” GPA. Honors, excel or advanced classes may also be considered “weighted” and the extra points received may not count toward the needed GPA of a scholarship. I recommend that you ask the college for clarification.- ACT  http://www.act.org/

    – SAT https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat

    NOTE: Quite a few colleges no longer require the SAT or ACT to be considered for admission into the college. However, the college may still require the score to be considered for a merit scholarship. Check with the college for clarification.

2. Need based scholarships – Many colleges consider the amount of “need” that a future student has. So, if a college costs $10,000 per year to attend and financial aid only covers $5,000, the college may consider the student for the remaining monies for a need-based scholarship. Scholarships do not have to be repaid but criteria must be met to keep the scholarship.

3. Athletic scholarships – I could write an entire blog just on athletic scholarships so if you are interested, please reach out to me and I will touch on this in more detail. An athletic scholarship is determined by meeting various criteria- the particular sport that a future student is interested in may have need for that student’s talents and decided to pursue the student for a scholarship. In addition to be a talented athlete, the future student has to meet the requirements to be admitted to the college AND meet academic eligibility requirements for the sports program.

All of the scholarships that I’ve mentioned so far are tied to a particular college or university – if you do not attend that college, then you don’t receive that scholarship. There are others that are NOT. For example, growing up, I heard about a scholarship that was specifically for left-handed people or there was a scholarship for students with a C average. Trust me, they really existed. These scholarships have the ability to go with you regardless of which school you choose.

4. Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com– I recommend that all who are interested in attending college register on these websites. They are basically databases full of scholarships that students can apply for; these included academic, essay writing, or talent based awards and many more. The scholarships may be a one time award or they may reoccur. Read the information carefully to determine this.

5. I’ll call this last category “hidden” scholarships. These are scholarships that are available through sources that many simply are not aware of- Walmart offers scholarships to the children of their associates; Coca-Cola offers scholarships as does UPS. Many are not aware of potential monies available through their employer. If not, check with Human Resources for more information.

As I wrap up, just remember- DEADLINES ARE CRITICAL. Please do not wait until the last minute to send your application and supporting information for a scholarship; anything can happen. Families, please position yourselves for success and apply early! The deadline can catch you off-guard.

On February 15, 2017 at 7 pm Eastern, I am having a financial assistance webinar and will mention more regarding scholarships and other forms of financial aid available to future students. This webinar is free; just log on and bring your questions!

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