Student loans can add up quickly. In 2010, students owed $25,250 on average upon graduation. With college costs increasing significantly each year, it can be nerve wrecking to think how much you’ll have to pay back shortly after you graduate.
How College Scholarships Can Help
College scholarships can drastically reduce the burden of student loans. When you receive a scholarship, you do not have to pay it back. That means you reduce the amount you have to borrow from a lending institution and the anxiety of high debt upon graduation.
Five different types of scholarships exist to help students pay for school. They are based on:
- Academic achievement – students with exceptional academic performance in high school or college may be eligible to receive scholarships based on these achievements and their need for financial assistance.
- Financial need – Students with a low family contribution level may be eligible for scholarships that help low-income family students pay for school.
- Ethnicity – Minorities and students with specific interests may be eligible for certain scholarships.
- Career – Students wanting to pursue a certain career might be able to receive a scholarship to prepare them for that career through higher education.
- College – Some colleges provide scholarships to students with financial need, and want to attend their institution.
Places to Find College Scholarships
Start with the Federal government for college scholarships and grants. The Pell Grant is the most popular one students apply for with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form.
By filling this form out, students are also applying to the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Academic Competitiveness Grant and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant.
Students should check with their education institution’s financial aid office. They will have a list of the school year’s scholarships offered by the college and organizations.
Use the Internet
Students can also use college scholarship search engines, such as Fastweb, find available ones.
The Internet is a resourceful way to browse associations to find ones scholarships that aren’t advertised. Simply do a search for associations having to do with your major, ethnicity, or aspired career to find ones that may want to help support you college education.
Contact Local Government
Your county or state may have available college scholarships. Check with your high school’s guidance counselor or main office for information as well as the department of education for your state.
Associations and Organizations Offering Annual College Scholarships
To help you with your search, start with these associations and organizations:
- National Scholarship Providers Association
- Association on American Indian Affairs
- Elks National Foundation
- National Business Association Scholarship
- The National Society of High School Scholars
- Attention Deficit Disorder Association
- AXA Achievement Scholarship
Tips for Applying for Scholarships
When you find a college scholarship you are eligible for, make sure you read the application requirements thoroughly. Most students do not receive a scholarship because they did not include the necessary information.
Keep all of the information on the college scholarships you are applying to in a binder and write the deadlines on a calendar. As deadlines come up, you’ll know exactly what you need and when you need to have it.
Also, don’t become discouraged if you don’t receive a scholarship right away. The more you apply to them, the higher your chances of getting one.