Have you fallen for the common misconception that scholarships are only for academic stars? Don't feel bad because many prospective college students are under the same false impression. Ironically, that bit of misinformation prevents thousands of people from applying for scholarship money every year, and millions of dollars go unclaimed simply because no one applies for it. If you're aiming for a four-year degree program or planning to attend community college for the first two years of your post-high school education, it's important to learn the facts about scholarships. First, you'll likely be shocked to discover how much money is available to students of all abilities.
Additionally, if you'll be helping your child pay for college, know how to find money to help with college savings now, and also know where and how to search for free money before dipping into your own savings or applying for loans to cover the rest. And if you do borrow, find out about the best resource for parents who want to supplement their child's educational expenses. There are equally relevant facts about scholarships that you need to know before choosing a school, picking a major, or beginning classes. In fact, the sooner you begin your search for scholarship cash, the better.
There's More Money Out There Than You Think
Why is there so much more money available than most students and parents are aware of? It's because scholarship programs are not required to advertise. Many are low key affairs that only get attention via a word-of-mouth network. That's just one of the reasons it's critical to start early and use a professional search service to uncover financial resources that you could help offset your total cost of college attendance.
Sending Kids to College? Timing is Everything
Timing is a critical element in the college financing quest. Consider using a scholarship search service to locate funding resources before putting your own cash into the equation. Realize that some major fields of study, like engineering and English, offer subject-specific financial rewards. Before you send the kids off to college, thoroughly explore all potential sources of money.
One little known fact is that some scholarships are only available to sophomores and juniors, so you can't even apply for them until after the first two semesters are complete. The smartest way to cover educational expenses is to apply for low-rate Private Parent Loans so that your child need not graduate with instant debt. Keep in mind that with parent student loans, you get the convenience of fast applications and minimal red tape compared to bank borrowing.
Some Scholarships Have Conditions
When reviewing scholarship applications, pay close attention to the ‘Requirements’ section. About half of all apps come with specific conditions like, "applicant must be an English Literature major," "funds are only available to students who attend state universities or community colleges”, or other restrictions. Read carefully, and don't waste your time filling out apps outside your area of interest. However, at least half of all scholarships are open to anyone, regardless of the major field of study or type of school they plan to attend. You may have had to write a personal essay for your college application already but also, be aware that many scholarship applications will ask you to submit a short essay stating why you believe you deserve the monetary assistance.