Coming up with the tuition money for your college degree can seem like an impossible task, especially for parents and working adults. Fortunately, there are lots of resources available to help make that college bill more affordable! Here are some important steps you can take to find and secure scholarships.
Step 1: When to begin? It is a good idea to begin your search for scholarships the summer before your senior year of high school. That will give you enough time to search for and apply for as many scholarships as you can. If you are not going to college directly out of high school, start this process as early as you can.
Step 2: Narrow down your list of colleges to just a few schools. This will help focus your time and attention.
Step 3: Find out what aid you can get from each school specifically. Check the financial aid section of each school’s website, and call/email the financial aid office to learn about what scholarship opportunities may be available. This will help give you a better sense of what your tuition will cost after factoring in what your college can offer you.
Step 4: Fill out the FAFSA—the Federal Application For Student Aid. The FAFSA is a government program specifically designed to help undergraduate and graduate students afford their degrees! You can get two kinds of aid from the FAFSA: loans, which you have to pay back, and grants, which you do not. Check out this detailed financial aid guide to learn more about loans, grants, and other FAFSA-related things.
Step 5: Use scholarship search engines and databases to find additional outside scholarships. Many people need additional aid on top of what they receive from their school/the FAFSA. If this is you, that is okay! Here are some major scholarship databases to help find additional funding for your degree:
These search engines allow you to enter information specific to you, such as major, demographic, need, etc. They will search and consolidate lists of scholarships relevant to you that you can apply for.
Step 6: Meet deadlines! Read each scholarship application carefully, taking note of the due date and all of the items that are needed. Gather all the relevant paperwork and submit your applications on time!
There are also scholarships available specifically for student parents! Here are some scholarships designated for:
Finally, the most important thing to remember when finding and applying for scholarships is to be patient and persistent. There are virtually endless opportunities to apply for scholarships, but also virtually endless people who are looking for and applying for them! Aim to apply for 1-2 scholarships per day and keep track of them. The more you apply for, the greater chance you have of being awarded a scholarship. Don’t give up! You CAN afford your education! There are scholarships and financial aid out there for you.
By Megan Clancy