What you Need to Know About College Scholarships: Part IMarch 26, 2019
Paying for College? Here’s Where to Find College Scholarships
So you’re going to college. That’s great! But now you need to find a way to pay for it. Lots of people have a successful college career by borrowing student loans for college, but scholarships for college can help lessen the amount you need to borrow. Here are some things you need to know about college scholarships and how to find them.
When should I search for college scholarships?
One of the most important things to know about searching for scholarships for college is that you should start early to make sure you’re meeting deadlines. The sooner you start looking for aid, the better. You want to be top of the pile when it comes time to apply, and you don’t want to miss out because you were late on a deadline. If you are late to apply to a scholarship deadline, chances are they won’t accept your submission.
If you know what degree you want and where you’ll be going to school, it cuts out the guesswork. Your degree and school will heavily impact how much you’ll pay for college. Any amount of schooling that can be paid for by a scholarship will be the best option. If you’re earlier in the process, here are some helpful figures on the average cost:
What does it cost to go to school?
School costs vary widely depending on multiple factors. Factors that impact schools costs include your degree, choice of school, and the type of field you’re going into. You may also be able to work while going to school, which can lower the cost.
|Average Cost – Public||Average Cost – Private|
|Associate’s Degree – Two Year||$3,570||$14,587|
|Bachelor’s Degree – Four Year||$102,352||$250,576–$341,184
(For-profit vs. Not-for-profit)
|Master’s Degree||From $30,000 to $120,000, depending on the program and school|
|Doctorate||From $15,000 to $50,000, depending on the program and school|
What should I look for in a college scholarship?
Scholarship qualifications can vary significantly based on the person or organization that created it. You might have to keep up a religious commitment or affiliation, meet performance requirements, or prove you are completing projects or work. Most commonly scholarships require that you need to maintain a certain grade point average and enrollment status. Don’t be surprised if other stipulations apply to a scholarship. It’s important to know the details when considering if you should apply or accept scholarships for college.
Secondly, you also need to look into how you are allowed to use the funds. Some scholarships cover strictly academic fees. Others scholarships may be used for room and board or general living expenses. Know the restrictions on funds before you accept any financial aid. The last thing you want to do is risk losing the money or having to pay it back.
Finally, be sure to find out what the worst case scenario might be. If you change programs or don’t achieve the grade you needed, what happens? It’s nothing that should scare you away from scholarships, but you need to know. Knowing if you’ll be on the hook later if something goes wrong is important.
The U.S. Department of Education has lots of tips on finding federal student aid and federal scholarships. Be sure you start your scholarship search for college at studentaid.ed.gov. In order to avoid taking out student loans for college, checking with government programs is a must. An added bonus is that the details and requirements are pretty clearly laid out. Using the U.S. Department of Education website is usually a quick search that’s easier to do, so we’d recommend starting your scholarship search there.
College Scholarship Categories
There are lots of different categories of scholarships. Here are some of the main ones you might qualify for. Narrowing down your search to a category can really help you focus on what applies to you and make your search more effective.
Scholarships for Academic Excellence (or even average performance)
As you can imagine, the top academic scholarships are highly competitive and only apply to the tip-top of high-performing students. Very few of us fall into that category. The good news is that whether you’re an ace or have more typical grades, you can still search for scholarships based on the level you’ve achieved in school and see if you qualify.
Are you good at a sport or activity? Search for those scholarships! From chess to volleyball to football and soccer, there are scholarships for lots of different types of athletes.
Your parents might have a connection to a university or organization that offers scholarships. Ask around the family and see if you can make that connection.
Most people are aware that the military offers money for college. There are lots of options from military reserves up to enlisting for a few years of full-time military membership. Check out this list of military scholarships and aid for active duty service members and veterans.
Scholarships for Parents
Single parents, working parents, and young parents are just some of the people who might qualify for this type of scholarship. Lots of organizations and schools want to promote education for all members of the community, and sending parents to school (or back to school) might make you their prime applicant.
Scholarships for Minorities
Scholarships for minorities often come from community organizations, colleges, and institutions, or even national and global groups that want to promote education for your ethnic or cultural group. Search this type of scholarships for college to learn more.
Scholarships for Women
Similarly to scholarships for minorities and parents, women often face barriers to attending school at higher rates than men. Scholarships for women offer extra help to make sure educating women is a priority.
Creative or Writing Scholarships
Essay contests, portfolio reviews, and performance arts-based scholarships exist for students in the arts. They often vary based on the school and focus of study, but there are many available. Don’t pass up searching for scholarships if you’re going into the arts or humanities, or even if you are a good essay writer and want to search for writing opportunities that might help you get a scholarship for college.
Community Service Scholarships
Community service covers a huge array of possibilities. If you’re passionate about helping your community, see if you can get involved with some projects, start one of your own, or search community service scholarships now to see what you could be doing that would make you eligible.
From scholarships for tall women to people with red hair to fans of HAM radio, there are all kinds of unusual scholarships for college out there. Check out lists like this one at Scholarships.com to see what you might qualify for that you never would have thought of!
Look for Upcoming Parts to This Guide
If you’re looking for scholarships for college because you want to save on your student loans for college, we’ll be posting more information soon to help guide you!
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