You are not alone if you were hoping that your child's education would be paid for by scholarships and it didn't turn out that way. Merit-based aid is exceedingly difficult to get these days and the standards for awarding this aid are growing more competitive. Unless your child is attending a school whose students typically have academic credentials below your child's credentials, then you probably don't qualify for campus-based merit aid.
Luckily, financial aid - such as grants and need-based scholarships - may have reduced your total costs. But if you are like most families, you will probably still have to shell out a significant amount of money in order to pay for tuition and fund other costs such as living expenses and books.
Your primary goal should be to limit the amount you borrow. Every dollar you borrow needs to be paid back with interest. It's easy to say, "what's the difference if I borrower $11,000 or $12,000?" Sometimes thinking about a large sum of money like that - especially one that doesn't have to be paid back right away - makes it feel less than real. But think about all of the things you can pay for with $1,000. Think about if you had that $1,000 stuffed in your wallet. It's getting more real, right?
This is where local scholarships come in. They can really help reduce the amount you borrow and they are often not as competitive as national scholarship programs or campus-based merit or athletic scholarships.
The amounts may be small: $200, $500, maybe $1,000. But some of these scholarships are not even awarded each year because no one applies. Just by conducting a thorough search, you could get enough local scholarships to pay for a year's worth of books and fund some of your living expenses.
A great place to start your search for local scholarships is RIScholarships.org. This database of local scholarships contains hundreds of scholarships that often don't have academic criteria. Some of these scholarships are awarded to students based on financial need. For example, the College Planning Center's Paul Sherlock Scholarship is awarded randomly to students who apply that have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $7,500 or lower. All you have to do to apply is submit a short application by May 15 to potentially be one of 25 recipients to receive a $2,000 scholarship.
Other local scholarships may be awarded to students who have an interest in a particular hobby such as fishing, bowling or knitting. Scholarships may be awarded to children of employees of particular companies, or be awarded to students for having a specific quality such as social leadership.You will never know what you might qualify for if you don't search.
Other places to search for scholarships:
- Your school guidance office. They likely have a binder of scholarships available to students at your school. These will mostly be local scholarships with less competition.
- The library. Talk to the librarian and check the bulletin boards for local opportunities.
- Your local newspaper. Some local scholarships are advertised to get applicants.
- Family friends, neighbors, the mail man. Ask everyone you know if they are aware of any scholarships you could apply for.
Remember, a scholarship search isn't something you can just conduct in one night. Students should dedicate a few hours a week to searching. It can pay off so get started before it is too late.
Local scholarships can often be dismissed by students because of their comparitively low values to national scholarships. While a local scholarship from the local Elk's club may be for $500, a national sweepstakes may offer a full ride. But it is very important to consider the number of applicants when applying to scholarships. With fewer applicants, as is the case with local scholarships, you have a much higher probability of winning the award. A few local scholarships could cover the costs of book and living expenses, reducing the amount you need to borrow and easing the burden of funding education costs.
Local scholarships aren't only for high performing athletes and straight-A students, mind you. They come in all shapes and all sizes. Let's say you are interested in fishing, bowling, painting, or playing the clarinet. There may be a local scholarship out there for you. Some scholarships are only awarded to students who can prove financial need, or have a FAFSA Expected Family Contribyution (EFC) below a certain threshold. For example, Rhode Island residents may consider RISLA's Paul Sherlock Scholarship. This is a scholarship awarded based on need. If you meet the need threshold, your chances of receiving the award are just as good as the other applicants. No high GPAs or SAT scores are necessary.
With that being said, it is important that you dedicate a considerable amount of time to your local scholarship search. You can start your search at RIscholarships.org if you are a Rhode Island resident. This College Planning Center tool will match you to scholarships that fit your interests and profiles and provide you with the information you need to apply.
Another great resource is your guidance counselor's office. Many schools keep a large binder of scholarships that are available to local students or even just to students from that school.
If you are going to be successful with your local scholarship search, it is best not to try to complete your entire search in just a single day. Dedicate a few hours a week over the course of a few months searching and applying for this free money.
Don't be shy about asking your neighbors, family members, and others about whether they are aware of any local scholarships you could apply for. The company they work for may have a special fund for children of employees or other relatives.They may have read something in the local paper that they could tell you about.
Most importantly, once you start your local scholarship search, be diligent about meeting deadlines. Free money could go right out the window if you aren't careful to send in your application by the specified date.Good luck!
Now that you have received your college financial aid award letter, you may be wondering, "how am I going to pay for this?" Scholarships, even small ones, are a great way of reducing the amount you need to borrow for college. When looking for scholarships in Rhode Island, keep in mind these key places:
- RIScholarships.org - The College Planning Center's free website of local scholarships. Input your personal attributes and view a list of scholarships you could potentially qualify for. Start your search.
- Your guidance office - It's likely your high school guidance office maintains a binder of local scholarships, some of which may be only available to students from your school. Check with your guidance counselor and make sure they know you are interested and motivated to apply for local scholarships.
- Your local libary - Check the bulletin boards, ask the librarians, search and check out scholarship books. These are all great places to find scholarships.
- Your parent's workplace - Many employers offer small scholarship programs to children of employees. Have mom and dad check with their employers to see if they have a program or know of any family programs.
- Your hometown newspaper - Check for advertisements on local programs. There may also be listings or articles on scholarship programs in your home town. Scan through every issue and make sure to pay attention to deadline dates.
FreemMoney for college comes in two basic forms: grants & scholarships. Free money for college does not need to be paid back, unlike loans, so it is best to maximize your free money before turning elsewhere.
Grants and scholarships are awarded by the federal government, states, institutions of higher education, and private organizations & companies.While you may have missed the deadlines for qualifying for state or institutional aid at this stage in the game, there is still plenty of private free money available so don't get discouraged!
Federal Free Money for College
The Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (often referred to as the FSEOG) are the most common federal grant types. These loans are both need based loans, only available to students who can prove financial need. Only the neediest students qualify for FSEOGs.
In order to qualify for a federal student aid grant, you are required to fill of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Keep in mind, you should never pay a fee to file the FAFSA. You can file for free at www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you need help, you can make a free appointment with the College Planning Center of Rhode Island.
State Free Money for College
Your state may offer a state grant or scholarship program. In Rhode Island, you must file the FAFSA by March 1 in order to qualify for a Rhode Island State grant but deadlines vary from state to state. Awards also range from state to state so check with your state for details.
Institutional Free Money for College
Your college may offer both grant and scholarship programs. While grants are most often awarded to students who prove financial need (again, you may be required to file the FAFSA and possibly an additional financial aid form required by the school such as the CSS PROFILE or a school form.) Scholarships may be awarded based on need, academics, talents or some combination. Pay attention to school deadlines for applying for scholarships and grants! May are as early as late fall. You must submit your financial aid materials by the school's deadline to qualify for institutional grants and scholarships, in most cases.
Private Free Money for College
Private money can come in both grants and scholarships but scholarships are more common. There are millions of dollars in scholarships available to students each year just waiting to help you pay for college.
Scholarships are NOT just for straight-A student and off-the-charts athletes. There are scholarships available to students with all types of talents, skills & qualities. For example, do you like to fish? There may be a scholarship out there just waiting for you. Or maybe your parent's workplace offers a scholarship to children of employees.
Search everywhere and talk to everyone when conducting a scholarship search. Remember to search locally. Local scholarship aren't as competitive as national scholarship so they have many less applicants which means you have a better chance of getting the award if you do the work of applying. If you live in RI, you can use RIScholarships.com to start your free, local scholarship search. Otherwise, check out free websites like, www.collegeboard.com to get started on your private scholarship search. Don't forget to check your guidance office, local newspaper and library for other opportunities available to those in your community.
And remember, $500 may not seem like a like in the grand scheme of college costs, but it could mean borrowing $500 less and funding personal expenses or books for the semester! It's worth it!
Are you looking for free money for college? College scholarships and grants abound, but how do you establish yourself as a recipient? The simple answer to this is: Those who do not apply will not receive. Money will not come to you unless you tell it you are there and waiting.
What do I need to do?
The first step for most college aid is to apply for the FAFSA. The FAFSA allows you to establish eligibility for – and to be considered for – federal grants and awards such as the Pell and FSEOG. These do not need to be repaid and are awarded based on your family's need.
In addition to establishing eligibility for federal grants, many institutions use the FAFSA to judge eligibility for institution-specific grants. These grants can extend well beyond the grants the government will provide. This is especially true at more expensive private institutions, which may cost more on the surface, but also have larger endowments and understand the value of attracting motivated students. Usually, once you are accepted at such colleges, these colleges will tell you what kind of financial package they can offer you, including scholarships and grants.
If you need help completing your FAFSA, free appointments can be made at www.collegeplanningcenter.org.
So what to do once you have applied for the FAFSA and other need-based awards through the government and individual institutions?
Other than need-based awards, most awards are merit-based – but merit-based does not always mean you need to have a 4.0. Many scholarships have GPA requirements as low as 2.0, or do not judge based on GPA at all. In these cases, you only need to demonstrate sufficient skill or involvement in other areas such as community service or involvement.
Scholarships can also focus on different geographic regions. Nation-wide scholarships tend to be more competitive, while local scholarships are usually easier to obtain. Rhode Island Scholarships' scholarship database can help Rhode Island students find local scholarships that may be difficult to locate otherwise. Other more general scholarship engines also exist that can help locate other scholarships.
Once you have received all possible scholarship and grant awards, the next option are loans, which need to be repaid, or paying out of pocket. So while you have time, give yourself the resources to apply, apply, and apply for that free money for college that's waiting for you.
When it comes to finding scholarship money, high school seniors and their parents need to look for ways to make themselves stand out. With all the competition out there for limited scholarship and education funding, serious students need to write strong essays that approach the topic from a different angle. There are plenty of private scholarship opportunities available. A general list of strategies that differ slightly from the usual may include some of the following.
College and University Scholarships
Do not bypass the traditional school scholarship route when looking for different school funding opportunities. Perform some research about each institution offering funding. Appeal to their tastes by showing interest in what drives them. For example, if a school works with disadvantaged youth, join an organization to demonstrate that you align with their business philosophy.
Find out how your local schools, and others of interest, interact with their communities. Attend local events to meet the most influential people of the education community. Arrange to volunteer in programs that are sponsored by colleges and universities. This can be a great way to network with people who can guide you toward finding school scholarship funding options.
Special School Scholarships
Consider applying for a scholarship associated with an art, social or other skill that you have. For example, if you perform music, look for scholarships that involve music. The same holds true for any other skill that you have. Apply for every scholarship that you may be eligible for. For example, the Steve Silver Foundation offers its annual "Beach Blanket Babylon Scholarship for the Arts." When applying for this kind of opportunity, be sure to read the instructions carefully and submit everything that is asked for.
Socially Designed Funding
There are educational funding opportunities for students of all kinds. Examine your heritage and see if you might qualify for a specific opportunity. For example, if you have a bloodline that includes American Indian or Eskimo lineage, look for ways to capitalize on that. Carefully craft your essay to explain how you qualify, and be very specific about how you might use your education to help your race and the community. If your studies will be directly related, such as with social services, this could serve to put you at the forefront.
All kinds of groups serving the best interests of society offer free cash for school. Find out what programs exist in your community by becoming an active participant in community service. For example, volunteer as a youth mentor at a youth club. Visit with those who serve the community to find out about how you may contribute. Many of these people will have information about educational funding, especially if you make your education goals known.
An example of a socially focused educational funding opportunity might be the "Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship." Graduating high school seniors who have made an effort to promote vegetarianism can apply for a chance for sponsorship money for school. Winning students for this kind of scholarship usually must exhibit a genuine, ongoing commitment to the subject of each contest, rather than participating in just one major project.
Check with your local businesses and at the Chamber of Commerce to find out about money for education. Many businesses offer students a chance to compete for available scholarships to use for college, technical school and universities. Some companies may offer stipends in connection with internships. For example, if you work part-time, ask your employer if they offer any money for schooling.
If you are a Rhode Island resident, view use or site of school scholarship opportunities that come from all kinds of different places. It really is just a matter of finding and applying for them.
Need more help with planning for college? Make a free appointment with an experienced college planning counselor.
Many students think that the only way you can get scholarships
for school is by getting good grades or doing well in athletics. However, this is not always the case. Some organizations offer free money for other students, especially those who have a financial need, to go to college and get a good education after high school.Matching Grants
Some states offer scholarships that give matching funds to low-income families to use toward college. These matching funds provide students with twice as much money as they would otherwise be able to bring to the table for going to school. This allows you to go to a better school than you could otherwise afford, giving you a better chance at making a better life for yourself. Search for these grants online to see if you can qualify.Employers
Employers are another good source for students in search of scholarships. Some employers, especially larger ones, offer scholarship opportunities for employees and their dependents who want to go to college. Inquire with your employer to find out if they have any programs for which you can apply to obtain free money to go to a better college. Different employers attach different requirements to their programs to determine who qualifies.Websites
Some websites, such as RIScholarships.com
for Rhode Island students, can help you look for scholarships that best match your situation. These searchable websites ask questions about your grades, extra-curricular activities, financial situation and other pertinent information, including school choices. They then match you up with programs for which you may meet the requirements for free money. It is still up to you to complete the application process to find out if you qualify. Some of these websites can also send you an alert if a new opportunity arises for which you may qualify.Colleges
Check with the colleges which you hope to attend. Some colleges offer scholarships to students who want to come to the school. Some of these programs are for those who have good grades or participate in sports during high school, but others are meant to help low to middle-income students afford to attend the school. If the college you hope to attend offers this type of program, apply to it as early as you can because there are likely plenty of other students who are after the same money you are.Other Qualifications
Seeking scholarships from organizations that specialize in specific qualifications can be useful if you fall into one of their qualifying categories. For instance, if you are a member of a minority group, certain opportunities are available to you. Other common qualifiers include being in the military or a parent in the military, women, international students and physical disabilities. In addition, if you are going into certain fields, such as nursing or teaching, you may qualify for those programs.
Finding the right scholarship that fits your needs can take time. Start looking for scholarships early and check back often. These programs often have strict deadlines so it is important to check websites and other resources at least once a month to ensure that you don't miss any deadlines for a scholarship for which you may qualify. Even if you don't fit the criteria for an academic or athletic scholarship, you can still find free money for your schooling.