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There Is A College Scholarship Out There For Everyone
Regardless of your economic and family circumstances, you can better yourself academically and economically by getting a college education. But how will you pay for it?
Do you live in an urban school district, or one that does not send many students to college? If so, your district may have special programs to encourage college attendance. Some start in middle school, so you should ask your counselors. With a recommendation and decent grades, you can get up to 4 years of tuition. But you must apply on time.
Many scholarships are based on your high school grade point average and your ACT or SAT scores. This means that grades are important in every class, starting in 9th grade. Again, check if your district has special programs. In any event, better grades and higher test scores will always be helpful. Try to be the best student you can be. Even if you are not at the top, better performance will make colleges more interested in you, and if interested, they are more likely to give you scholarship dollars.
There are about 100 Promise programs in the US in various stages of development, that offer scholarships just for living in a particular school district or a particular city. For example, the Detroit College Promise requires only registration in 9th grade, Detroit residency and Detroit public school enrollment. Some of these programs are new, so check with the district, and follow any rules. Every spring, we have to turn away students who would otherwise be eligible for scholarships because they didn't fill out a short registration on time. Make sure this doesn't happen to you.
Be sure to check into local scholarships. They often have fewer applicants. Incredibly, some cannot be awarded because nobody applied. Those who do apply have a much greater chance of winning a scholarship than the large national scholarships, with thousands of applicants.
A good source of information is high school counselors. But you may want to get multiple opinions - different people are aware of different organizations. Also check with the financial aid often at the college you are attending. If they want you to attend, they will help you find the dollars. If you don't get money the first year of college, keep asking.
Colleges need to boast of the success of their students. If you are doing well in college, they will try harder to find you money to keep you there.
The biggest problem for students with scholarships is missing deadlines. At one major university, the financial aid director lamented that students frequently lose scholarships for 4 years tuition worth up to $40,000, simply because they didn't get their application in on time.
As a parent, what can you do to motivate your child to hunt for scholarships. Some children ignore the process, assuming that their parents will pay anyway. Perhaps you can give extra money to your children for scholarships they receive, to use for entertainment, or graduate school, or something you would not ordinarily pay for. Teenagers are inherently distracted, so as parents, we have to keep them focused on helping to pay for school.
Most colleges and universities want you to complete the FAFSA, the free application for federal student aid at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
Many organizations have their own unique scholarships. If you have a connection to a religious group, a fraternal organization, a professional organization, or an employer, check out their scholarships. They often have a limited number of applicants, which makes your chance of qualifying and securing a scholarship very good.
Applying for scholarships can be a difficult, time-consuming, and tedious process. In addition, scholarship applicants often face stiff competition. However, by applying certain methods to your application process, you can greatly increase your chances.