Everyone knows college is expensive, and tuition costs are rising every year. This reality isn’t going away anytime soon. Hopefully you’ve already begun saving for your child’s college education or looking into avenues for financing. However, there is one avenue no parent or student should overlook: scholarships.
Scholarships are one of the best ways to fund your child’s college education. Unlike student loans, they do not have to be paid back and are earned through your child’s abilities. These can save you thousands of dollars in tuition, board, books, and more, but only if you start applying early.
Below are six different types of scholarships your child may be eligible for and how you can start applying and saving today:
Merit-based scholarships are some of the most common and most comprehensive scholarships for college students. Recipients are selected based on academic accomplishment or talent in a particular field, and are incentivized by the university to attract top students to their schools. Some merit-based scholarships include a full ride, which are highly competitive for any school. However, this doesn’t mean your child can’t receive other partial merit-based scholarships to help them pay for tuition, books, or extracurriculars related to their degree.
Athletic scholarships are common at large public universities to attract top talent to their teams. Sports are a top money-maker for most college campuses; if your child has athletic promise, they might have a good chance of receiving scholarships to fund their education. Many athletic scholarships will offer either a full-ride or the cost of tuition as long as your child is playing for the university and maintains a required grade point average.
The military is eager to fund education for active duty, reserve, and veteran service members, and will often fund some tuition costs based on need. Some scholarships can even be granted to children or spouses of active members and veterans, so be sure to explore your options if you or your child is part of any military branch.
Certain scholarships are created to help underprivileged students pay for college expenses. These scholarships are typically given to students whose families meet a certain income threshold, and may be selected based on grades or other talents. However, even if you believe you make too much, you should still apply through FAFSA and your child’s university of choice as many students can receive partial scholarships based on need.
Many local and state governments as well as the federal government provide scholarships for students who are in need or who meet specific academic requirements. For example, the state of California offers scholarships to those in foster care, while Massachusetts provides scholarships to “heads of household” or students under 18 who are at risk of homelessness. Each state offers different programs, many of which can be found when filling out the FAFSA and applying for other student aid programs offered through the college.
Identity-based or minority scholarships are given to underrepresented students in specific categories. These may be given based on race or nationality, gender, or if they are considered a minority in a certain field, such as women in tech and engineering. While many of these also have academic requirements, you should explore all of these options with your child if you think they may qualify.
Tips for Scholarship Application
In all likelihood, your child will be eligible for scholarships in one or more of these categories. Even if they don’t qualify for a full ride, you can find smaller scholarships to help pay for partial tuition, books, or provide them with a starter fund of a few thousand dollars to help them transition into independence successfully. As they begin the application process, remind them of these simple tips for success:
- Apply for the FAFSA first – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid should be the first step in any application process. It can help you identify student loans and government aid based on your financial need.
- Apply to every scholarship you can find – Applying to as many scholarships as possible increases your chances of covering most of the cost of tuition without loans. Even a small scholarship of a few hundred dollars can help you save on books for your first year.
- Keep track of deadlines – Most scholarship applications have annual deadlines, so put these all in a calendar, so you don’t miss your opportunity.
- Spend time on your essays – Many scholarship applications will require an essay in addition to submission of academic records. The more time you spend on these, the more likely you will make an impression that could help you get selected.
- Ask for help – Applying for scholarships is stressful! And if you don’t get the support you need, you may find yourself putting in half effort to get everything done on time. Help proofread your child’s essays and encourage them to stay on top of deadlines so they can stay on top of their goals.
With these tips, your child can successfully receive more scholarships and make their way through college a little easier. However, if you’re looking for other ways to help support their education, talk to OneAscent about college investment strategies today.