Secrets to The Scholarship Search
A college degree opens up great opportunities for a student-financially and personally.There is a greater likelihood of making more money and double in many cases-compared’ to those who do not hold a college degree. Another benefit is the security of retaining your job or getting another one if needed. Health benefits as well as retirement plans often come with higher-skilled jobs. College is a great discovery zone to explore passions and new things, even if a student doesn’t know what he or she wants to major in at the start.
Unfortunately, going to college today can be extremely expensive and can incur long-lasting debt that can follow a person for many years. The truth is, 50% of college is paid for by loans, 40% by grants and about 10% actually comes from scholarships. The good news is that college can be within the reach for just about everyone. There are many ways students can receive scholarships as well as FREE college!
Start your scholarship search engine! Begin at www.fastweb.com www.grantsnet.org and www.collegeboard.com/student/pay. Many scholarship websites have numerous contest/scholarship offers available. Make sure that you only apply to those that you are eligible for. Don’t forget the small scholarships, because they can
really add up, and there is probably less competition for them. Set up a separate email account only for college information as well as scholarship websites.
Scholarship contests are a numbers game in the sense that you may have to apply for a lot just to receive one-but it can be worth it if you leave college debt-free,so start applying early. They are also offered year-round, so make it your job to search for them daily or weekly. Keep a notebook of your scholarship search and status of each one-and, when filling out the application, don’t leave anything out or miss the deadline.
Use Big words! If you really want to find some littleknown scholarships, use words that most people don’t think about when searching on the Web. Being more detailed and using specific words can pull up scholarship information that isn’t readily found. Try adding these words in with your search: Endowment, Foundation, Honorarium, Trust, Fellowship, and Donors.
Ace the SAT/ACT/CLT! One of the best ways for students to get scholarships is through receiving a high test score on college
entrance exams. Students who receive high test scores can generally expect anywhere from a couple thousand dollars
in scholarship money to full-rides to the colleges of their dreams. Success, however, on college entrance exams does not happen overnight. Some of the brightest and most determined students do poorly on these tests because they do not understand how to properly study for these tests. The best way to help your student prepare for college entrance exams is to find a test prep program that teaches the formula of the tests. Standardized tests such as the PSAT and the SAT/ACT/CLT are logic tests that can be figured out if the students can understand the recurring patterns and strategies. Spending extra time on studying for these tests can help reduce the financial burden of college through high test scores and scholarships. Some colleges even allow students to raise their test scores after admission to receive more money.
Pay for college with milk money! Imagine getting back 1-25% for college on everyday purchases such as buying
groceries, filling up your gas tank, eating out, booking travel, shopping’ online and more. Upromise is a free
service with over 12 million members. To start receiving rewards, go to www.upromise.com. You can shop with 600
participating retailers and get up to 25% back. Eat out using a participating credit card or debit card and get up to 8%
back from more than 8,000 restaurants. Grocery and drug stores have thousands of eligible items, and when you scan
a Upromise registered card at the checkout, you could get up to 3% back. Make it a family affair. When your family
and friends join, their purchases can also go toward your Upromise account.
Be low-income! Not making a lot of money can work to your advantage when it comes to paying for college. There
are 72 colleges and universities who have replaced loans with grants and scholarships for low- or lower-income
families. (In some cases, colleges are counting lower income as less than $100,000.) Visit https://www.finaid.org/
questions/noloansforlowincome.phtml. Some of these are Ivy Leagues, and to qualify you just have to have earned
that amount the year PRIOR to your student applying to college. Here is another list of colleges who are capping
their loans, some for as low as $5000 total for four years (https://projectonstudentdebt.org/pc_institution.php).
Get in the Re-awards Pot! Many colleges have scholarship money that was previously awarded to a student who later
decided to attend another college. Check with the college to see their policy on this matter. After a student has enrolled,
they should ask to be considered for this money and have it re-awarded to them instead.
Appeal for more money! Students generally interview for college with an admissions counselor or the dean of their department. Sometimes they will inform students of the scholarships they will offer them, and sometimes they will send the student a letter. After receiving the news of how much money they were awarded, families can send a letter to the school and appeal for more money than what was originally offered. Check to see if they allow this and what forms you may need, such as income tax returns or outstanding medical bills. A formal letter may be the only documentation they require. Don’t sound desperate, just keep with the facts and display your desire to attend their school. Meet in person with the financial aid officer and discuss the idea of receiving more money.
Fill out the FAFSA ASAP! Every student going to college will need to apply for the FAFSA to see how much free money they can get. It is free to fill it out, and the earliest date to apply for the FAFSA is January 1st of the student’s senior year. This is first come, so apply early. For more information, call (800) 433-3243 or go to the website www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA opens up doors to scholarships, grants and financial aid. Filling out the form can take an hour, so be prepared before you start. Use the worksheet to gather important documents and don’t forget to set up a PIN number as soon as possible at www.PIN.ed.gov.
Continuing education beyond high school can be an expensive endeavor and searching for college money can be a daunting task; however, families who are equipped and prepared can take advantage of available resources that many others haven’t discovered yet and unlock secrets to paying for college.
Jean Burk is a homeschooling mother and author of College Prep Genius: The No Brainer Way to Test Success! She has been the featured SAT expert for FOX, CBS, NBC, and The Homeschool Channel. Both her children received full-ride scholarship offers because of their SAT/ACT/CLT and PSAT scores. Her revolutionary program is taught in schools and homeschool co-ops across the country and helps thousands of students raise their SAT/ACT/CLT scores as much as 600 points.
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