Scholarships Can Help You Afford College

If you are preparing to head to college soon, then I’m sure you’ve been thinking about how on earth you’re going to afford it.  Given the current economic crisis, high school graduates are discovering that they’ll have to contribute in some manner to their college education.  Their contributions can come in a variety of different forms.  Some college bound high school students take out student loans, some apply for college scholarships or grants, and others apply for certain work study programs.

In this article, I’ll discuss some key items that you need to know about financial aid at the college level.

Obtaining Financial Aid is Tricky…

The first thing that every high school senior needs to understand is that financial aid is tricky.  Since this is the case, the best approach is to apply early and often, and keep a record of everything that you send to the college’s financial aid office or to any scholarship program.  While the internet has made things a lot easier, it has limited the person-to-person interaction that can sometimes be helpful when dealing with random mishaps that arise during the college application process.

There are a ton of federal financial aid opportunities available; however there are also a lot of other college funding opportunities that will allow you to get an education that does not revolve around government funding.  These “other opportunities” are also known as SCHOLARSHIPS! However, you’ll need to spend the time to search for them.

Check Your Local Community…

Your local community is a great place to start looking when it comes to discovering scholarships.  Civic organizations and local businesses love giving out scholarships to local students who have excelled in high school.  However, many of these have very specific requirements so you should pay close attention to this before submitting an application.

You should always aim to obtain scholarships rather than loans, since you do not have to repay the scholarships back after college.  College loans can really take a huge bite out of your income for the first several years after graduation.  The fewer loans that you can manage to take out the better.

Check for College Departmental Scholarships…

If you can’t find any scholarships at the local level, you should check with the school that you plan to attend.  There are a lot of excellent resources at the school level when it comes to financial aid.  At many colleges, they will offer departmental scholarships based on the program that the student decides to enter.  For example, if you are entering the college’s school of engineering, you should consult with the department head of engineering to see if there are any specific engineering related scholarships.  You might be surprised at the number of scholarship that you may qualify for.  Yes, competition is stiff for these types of scholarships, but you never know when your application might spark the interest of one of the scholarship committee members.

Take Your Time…

When applying for scholarships, remember to read all of the directions carefully, provide all of the required documentation, and double check everything for accuracy and clarity.  Taking the time to thoroughly review your application can oftentimes be the difference between you being awarded the scholarship and the award going to another student.

Scholarships are by far the best way to go when it comes to applying for financial aid, but you should also consider work study programs, grants, and loans (if necessary) to fund your college education.

In this article, I’ve only briefly introduced the topic of scholarships.  For even more useful information and advice, please refer to my following posts:

1. College Scholarship Applications – Provides a link to 42 scholarships that you can apply for now!

2. College Scholarship Money – Learn a step-by-step approach to applying for scholarships, along with a list of websites that you can use to search for scholarships.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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