I use a lot of room on this blog criticizing the current condition of the financial aid system in the Oughout. S. and the sticker price of college nowadays. However , this time of year, I tend to consider the things for which I am thankful. Regardless of all my griping, I am thankful that there is a system — of any kind — that makes an attempt to easing the financial journey into higher education.
In spite of the paperwork and hurdles involved in obtaining aid, as well as the cost of the education by itself, it is still often worth the trouble. One other element of financial aid that we can be thankful for, apart from the government portion, is private scholarships.
I know college students are thinking about turkey and final exams and a long winter break; but it’s not just the chill up that sets their hands to trembling as they clutch backpacks and courier bags stuffed with hundred-plus-dollar publications and all the electronica required to finish 21 st century college coursework. As thankful as students and parents may be to have the opportunity offered by a university education, there is a lot of worry associated with thinking about how to pay for it.
Even before they get to college, senior high school seniors are applying to schools. These people, or their parents, are sweating each individual application fee they send in, only so they can eventually decide which institution of higher learning will have the opportunity of holding them up by the feet and shaking all the loose change out of their pockets for the next four (if they’re lucky! ) years. Meanwhile, parents are considering mortgages, second jobs and, possibly, pulling out their own hair.
The main reason all this higher education planning is really chilling is the unchecked rise in attendance costs over the past two or three decades. With this time period, the cost of post-secondary education provides risen at a pace greater than those of most other economic yardsticks, including household income, individual rates of saving and, of course , the stock market.
According to the College Panel, the cost of attending a public university, with favorable in-state tuition rates, averaged nearly $21, 500 during the 2011-2012 academic year. Over the exact same period, a year of school at a reasonably priced private college would have cost almost twice as much, averaging $42, 224 per year. While such quotes do include associated expenses such as fees and books as well as college tuition, the reality is that there are many schools out there whose annual tuition rates alone exceed these averages. Chances are, provided the trends of the past a long period, the numbers are not going to start coming downward.
One way to restrict your stress, as well as free up some money for holiday shopping, is to use scholarship or grant money to cover some of your university expenses. Hundreds of scholarship sources exist out there. Many are left untapped each year. Sit down at your computer, your local library or even, preferably, both, and start applying for every single scholarship for which you think you might meet the criteria.
Will My Student Qualify?
You may be considering to yourself that scholarships are just for the brightest of students or the most talented of athletes. That will, however , is a misconception. Scholarships are awarded every year based not only upon athletic ability or GPA but additionally on just about every affiliation or pastime or interest area under the sun. You could practically turn applying for scholarships into a job on its own merits. With respect to the school you wish to attend, doing so may not be such a bad idea.
Several categories of scholarships exist for which you or your children may be eligible. A good suggestion of a starting point would be to compile a listing of anything you like, have interest in, people you know, can do well, and start digging.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, type of scholarship are those awarded for educational achievement. Such awards can come from the variety of sources that range from the university your applying to, your high school or even academic honors organizations like the Nationwide Merit Scholarship foundation. If you think you may qualify for this type of scholarship, work hard to have the best grades you can, but don’t forget to portray yourself as a well-rounded student by participating in extracurricular school activities and becoming involved in your community. Even if your grades are not great, strong essays, leadership skills and the work you do in your community can get you noticed by organizations that will award scholarships.
Athletic scholarships are also a strong possibility if you’re gifted both academically and physically. The good thing is they’re not just limited to the big Division I sports like football and basketball; you could get a scholarship in anything from sailing to fencing to dance. If you can do it, there is certainly likely a scholarship for it. An additional alternative for athletically-gifted students is to look at smaller schools that have lower than stellar teams but excellent educational credentials. Even a partial athletic scholarship or grant to a smaller school can go a considerable ways to giving you a leg up on your career and your financial well-being right after graduation – chances are, you weren’t going pro anyway.
Awards Based on Creativity
The same is true for artists and creative students. Dozens, if not 100s, of scholarships exist for gifted visual and performance artists, writers and most recognized creative pursuits. If you have a creative bent, practice your auditioning skills or put together a portfolio representative of your best work.
Other scholarships include those based on sex or ethnic background. These can be more competitive than some other types of scholarships because they, like academic scholarships, usually attract the best and brightest. If you think you’re one of them don’t hesitate to apply. Many guides and services are out there to help you track down information on trying to get scholarships. A few cost money or cost a subscription fee; good, totally free resources include:
A little hard work on your part can help you defray some, if not all, of the costs of going to college. A scholarship or grant may ultimately mean the difference among attending the school you want as opposed to the 1 you can afford. You’ll be thankful you did it.