College is expensive – probably a week doesn’t go by that someone mentions paying for student loans ... but does it have to be that way for you? The simple answer is no. The difficult answer is you will need to look at the scholarship process as a part-time job. It can be time-consuming and exhausting, but the benefit can be huge!
Here are some simple ways to navigate the process:
- Consider what is at your fingertips: Are there any seminars being held in your area that discusses how to acquire scholarships? This may be something your student’s school is sponsoring, or a parent’s club, etc. Be wary of sponsored events that will ask you for a sum of money to help you with the process.
- Who are you? Consider your uniqueness, what sets you apart from others? Make a list. What are your talents? Do you have unique physical traits, unique religion/region? It’s amazing what types of scholarships there are. Thousands of scholarships are available, you just need to have the tenacity to find them.
- Consider your college choice: Every college has scholarships, there might be one that is major-specific, based on region, or ethnicity, etc. Look on the college website or become familiar with admissions, ask them to help you navigate the process so you can maximize your reward.
- Explore locally: Some smaller businesses and clubs have funds set up specifically for scholarships. Also, consider corporations in your area, many times places will provide scholarships for children of their associates, they just need to apply.
- Search online: The fact that the sky is the limit on the web is a huge positive, but the fact that the sky is the limit is also a huge negative. Sit down and make a list of types of scholarships you feel are easy hits (such as academic if you have good grades) and then reach for more difficult scholarships that have more stringent criteria (which might include an application fee and essay). Determine what to apply for and keep a running list so you don’t waste your time applying multiple times.
- Commit to applying to 20 scholarships a week: This is no fun, but neither is paying for student loans for 20 years after college. Remember that this is like a part-time job time wise and the more you apply, the higher your chances of securing funds for college. Also, don’t get hung up only applying for large scholarships, those are highly competitive. Smaller scholarships add up quickly and are easier to secure.
Finally, one important key to all of this is (and preparing your kid for college) – organization – keep a spreadsheet with the name of scholarship, details (address/website/email), date you applied, amount and the potential award date. It’s a numbers game, the more you apply, the more you will receive.
Want more scholarship tips? Download PropelU's free ebook, The Ultimate Scholarship Guide.