Parents of Sophomores and Juniors:
💰Along with earning merit aid and being awarded scholarships to pay for college, there are two ways to apply for college financial aid: the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile).
There are about 400 colleges, universities, and scholarship programs that require families to complete the CSS Profile to award institutional aid.
Knowing what to expect will help you avoid scary surprises if your student is interested in Baylor, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Hillsdale College, Patrick Henry College, Michigan, Notre Dame, or hundreds of others.
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Firstly, know that the CSS Profile is a more detailed look at your family’s finances.
Among the larger differences between the FAFSA and CSS Profile are how they treat your assets (ex. FAFSA ignores home equity), your income (ex. CSS expects students to contribute up to $6,000 per year), and your family (ex. FAFSA considers income and assets of custodial/non-custodial parents/stepparents).
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Secondly, know that you will need a lot of your financial documents and information.
These include your tax returns, W-2 forms, untaxed income and benefits, assets, and bank statements (cash on hand). A complete list will be given after you register.
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Finally, know that the CSS Profile is not free like the FAFSA.
Along with the college application fees, the College Board charges an initial $25 registration fee with one free school report. Beyond that, you will be charged $16 for each additional report required.
Visit https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org for more information.
All of this to say…
🏫You and your college-bound teenager need to start considering potential colleges today. For a sophomore and junior, an ideal list would have 4-10 options. For the colleges that require the CSS Profile, you can plan ahead and be prepared.
Summer can be the best time for students to recharge, explore, and think about their future. High school students, especially freshmen and sophomores, should use the break to unwind, but also plan for the next academic year. You'll also have time to fine tune your higher calling while exploring your options. Opportunities worth mentioning include summer programs at universities, campus visits, internships, part time jobs, and volunteering. Let’s get started!
Summer programs are designed for high school students to experience a field of study before pursuing it as a major. For example, if you think engineering might be a good major to pursue, it would be wise to participate in an engineering summer program where you would get a feel for what the major actually entails (hint: lots of math and science). You will also get to spend a week or more (depending on the program) on campus, which would introduce you to college life.
The downside to summer programs is that they tend to be fairly expensive. So, if your family isn’t able to afford a summer program and scholarships are not available, an alternate way to experience college would be to visit campuses. A college visit could be as simple as a day trip with your parents where you tour the campus and speak with university representatives, or if your schedule allows, you could make multiple campus visits over the period of a week. Oftentimes, visiting a campus is the best way to determine what you desire in the college experience. Remember, it isn’t only about academics.
But, if you have already visited campuses or plan to do so in the fall it might be better for you to focus on working this summer. Part time jobs are a fantastic way to gain an understanding of business and establish a solid work ethic, or you could think about internship opportunities with local companies and organizations. Internships are great for students who have an idea about what they want to study because they introduce you to people and companies that are doing what you’re interested in. For example, if you want to work for a magazine one day and you get an internship with a local periodical or newspaper, you will get to see what your potential future career looks like on a daily basis.
If internships and part-time jobs aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, and you desire a more altruistic summer experience, see if there are any volunteer opportunities near your home. Contact schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations to ask about age and experience requirements, and you will be well on your way to getting involved with something philanthropic this summer.
From summer programs to college visits, part time jobs to internships, the most important thing for high school students is to make the most of your summer! Think about how you’d like to spend your time, and get started because the next school semester will be here before you know it. Download TeenLife’s Guide to Overnight Summer Programs for more ideas. Have fun planning for college and your future career this summer!
The US Department of Education updated the earnings data on the College Scorecard in September 2018, and as Clare McCann (New America) shared, “deleted some valuable details off the consumer website designed to help students and families make informed choices about where to go to college.”
The USDOE deleted net price, graduation rates, repayment rates and typical earnings. If you are not familiar with those terms, think about what you consider when shopping for cars. You review MSRP and fair price, resale value, and loan repayment rates. However, a college education, whose value appreciates over time, may have a sticker price of $100,000 for a public university.
Another missing feature will be the national comparison to other schools. They showed you if the school was above or below the national average. What once benefited the consumer now benefits the college. While parents and students can compare up to ten colleges, you won’t see the national median. A USDOE spokeswoman said the change reflects a desire for students to compare similar colleges and programs rather than national averages.
In 2015, the College Scorecard was designed to allow families to make informed choices, especially if they didn’t have access to a school counselor or educational consultant. The intent was to measure access, affordability, and performance of each college to inform prospective college students about their choices. This may still be a disadvantage if the parents don’t know how to compare majors, costs, or test scores.
McCann continues by asking if students can compare colleges using the scorecard. She shares that one prominent researcher, Nick Hillman, wrote to the Department about his research, “[i]n education deserts where there are no public broad-access options, prospective students are likely to find colleges that are either too selective to attend or that charge high tuition without commensurate labor market returns.” For students without good higher education options nearby, he wrote, “regulators have an even greater responsibility to protect consumers.”
It seems that the College Scorecard may not be the reliable source needed to keep colleges accountable and offer students a way to compare their possibilities. This is one reason why private companies, independent educational consultants, and large non-profit organizations remain relevant. Consumers need a way to make wise financial decisions, especially where the scorecard falls short.
I discovered that the search for cost by major may not yield the desired outcomes. I’m was expecting that history majors, mathematics majors, and education majors would have different salaries (as identified by IRS documents) after ten years. This was not true. The College Scorecard does not differentiate by major. If they offer that program (theology), the school will appear on the list. While the NAICU is fighting this data point citing privacy concerns, I think comparing colleges by major/program is a good idea. It’s going to be hard since 100% of psychology majors are not working in the psychology industry.
Richard Vedder observed that the jobs earning data could be helpful to consumers and colleges alike. “If a college is turning out large number of, say, sociology majors whose earnings after attending average only $33,000 (in part because many take jobs as baristas or Uber drivers), but a smaller number of economics majors average $50,000 a year, perhaps the school should redirect more of its resources to training economists, and less to promoting sociology.”
We are all in favor of improving the College Scorecard. McCann writes that “updates to the site should come in the form of better, clearer information to consumers, not less transparency or harder-to-parse information.” To the Department of Education, she recommended that it’s critical to “[e]stablish a reference point for outcomes data on the Scorecard,” because “[r]esearch has shown that comparative information is more effective as a disclosure than information provided in a vacuum.”
As a consumer, you can use the College Scorecard as a springboard to view of the college landscape. As you are praying about your decisions, discuss your questions and concerns with a professional like a certified financial planner, independent educational consultant, or your school counselor. We want you to make the best decision for your student!
Student Aid shares how to accept financial aid (free, earned, borrowed) when preparing paying for college. Read the three tips and the descriptions below.
First, accept free money (merit aid, scholarships, grants).
The best way to pay for college is with merit aid! Merit aid is distributed by each college based on your academic performance in high school (GPA) and on your standardized tests (SAT, ACT). Improve your scores to qualify for more merit aid using test prep and tutoring! What are you waiting for?
The Domestic Undergraduate Need-Based Aid and Merit Aid chart by Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy from EducateAbroad (2017) shows you how each college distributes merit aid. Public schools offer around $5,000 in merit aid while private schools offer around $15,000. Actual aid is determined by the individual college based on the students GPA, test scores, and other factors (in some cases).
Don't fall in the "guaranteed trap!" Authentic scholarship search websites will not guarantee a scholarship since the winners could be selected at random, be 1 of 14,542 entries, or by popular vote of students with curly hair. They will not charge you an entry fee for a scholarship search. They do not have exclusive rights or secret money left by your ancestors in a cave.
So finding and applying for scholarships is your responsibility. Through your junior year, bookmark and save the scholarships you want to apply to as a senior. Then you can work toward meeting the recommendations. Christopher Penn, Chief Media Officer of Edvisors, recommends that you "set your expectations by the rule of 10 - for every scholarship you are awarded, you have to apply for 10. For every scholarship you qualify and apply for, you'll need to research 10 opportunities." So starting in August of your senior year, apply for 3-5 scholarships a week. Consider this a part-time job. When you are awarded a $500 that you spent a few hours applying for, you just saved 50 hours of real work! So don't overlook or dismiss the small dollar offers.
With so many scholarship search engines available, start with CareerOneStop, Scholar Snapp, Scholly, Student Scholarship Search, Chegg, Cappex, Fastweb, and FinAid. You'll need to create a profile but the search is free (Scholly has a small fee). Some will offer scholarships that may not be listed on another site. Some will sell your personal information, so read the fine print.
You can also search for scholarship opportunities on a general search engine (Yahoo, Bing, Google) and social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest).
You can search using many scholarship categories: academic, athletic, institutional, private, local, and regional. For more ideas, read my blog about finding obscure scholarships.
While some colleges have grants, there are typically two types of federal grants: the Pell Grant and the TEACH Grant. Similar to scholarships, grants are one-time offers that must be renewed.
Some students qualify for Pell Grants. Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree.
A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is different from other federal student grants because it requires you to take certain kinds of classes in order to get the grant, and then do a certain kind of job to keep the grant from turning into a loan.
Next, accept earned money (work study).
Some students are given the opportunity to participate in work study through the college. This allows you to work on campus for a designated amount of money. If you marked work study on your FAFSA, it should be a part of your award package. When you register for college, visit your school’s financial aid office and sign up. Don’t procrastinate. The best jobs fill up quickly. Some jobs give you the opportunity to work in your field of study; many are in service areas such as at the library, in the cafeteria, or admission office.
BONUS EARNED MONEY TIP: Learn how to become a Resident Assistant (RA). Colleges will compensate you (including free room costs!) to live and work on campus.
Last, accept borrowed money (loans).
Loans are a part of financial aid. Loans help you fill in the gap of your need-based aid and merit-based aid. There are many loan sources: institutional, federal student, federal parent, state, and private educational loans. Federal Loans include: Federal Perkins Loan (<$5,500), Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan ($3,500-5,500 - no charged interest while in school), Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan ($6,000-20,500 - interest charged while in school, begin payments immediately), Direct PLUS Loan for parents (up to yearly cost of attendance - begin payments immediately). You should also use this loan calculator to estimate your potential repayment schedule.
Consider federal loans first before selecting state loans, institutional (college) loans or private loans. And read the fine print!
Two companies that provide information about private financial aid loans are Edvisors and College Raptor.
One more tip, with all of the free, earned, and borrowed money, learn how to set up (and use) a budget.
You may not have considered budgeting for college yet. Some families work with a financial adviser, local banker, or software to create a budget. Here are a few tools that will help you think through the college budgeting process.
Preparing yourself to pay for college is an essential step towards your higher calling.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
– Antonie de Saint-Exupery, pioneer aviator
In her book, “How to Graduate Debt-Free,” Kristina Ellis shares a few can’t-miss financial principles. Here are five principles to consider as you start planning financially for college.
Principle #1: Start Early
Procrastination. It’s the quickest way to avoid getting things accomplished. And when you wait, you lose valuable time to consider all your options. So, since you’re interested in attending (and graduating from college), mark that down as your goal.
Too many students wait until their junior year or even senior year (gasp!) to begin planning for college. We recommend that students begin planning for college in the eighth grade. Some financial planners recommend starting in elementary school – especially when it comes to financing higher education.
Why is starting early important?
If you find out as a junior that your favorite college requires three years of the same foreign language, and you’re in French 1, your application would be denied. While most colleges only require two years, a growing number of selective colleges require three.
Since college admission officers are reviewing your 9th – 11th grade GPA, you’d want to make sure you are taking challenging classes and getting high grades as a freshman.
If you’re just getting started as an upperclassman in high school, that’s okay too. While your options may be limited, don’t procrastinate any longer. Work with your school counselor or an educational consultant to develop a strategy and get started.
Principle #2: Make a Plan
The Bible says that "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty" (Proverbs 21:5).
Students need to determine what career they want to pursue, what college they want to attend, and how they are going to pay for college. Even if adjustments need to me made, making a plan will alleviate stress and uncertainty.
If you are still reading this article, then you are interested in creating a successful college plan. You need to find a trusted professional or independent educational consultant that will help you create a personalized plan to help you discover the right career and college for you.
Be diligent. Make a plan.
Principle #3: Create and Maintain a Budget
When you start mowing lawns, babysitting, or serving customers, you also need to create and maintain a budget. There are many budgeting tools available online through your bank or other financial resource. Find one and get started!
The spending and saving principles you learn with a budget of $1,000 can also be applied when you have to manage $50,000 per year. When you attend college, they expect to be paid (for the classes, housing, food, fees…) at the beginning of each semester.
Ellis shares that “not monitoring your spending habits can cause you to pay out significantly more than you anticipated, further distracting you from your goals. Especially since college turns out to be far more costly that families expect” (p11).
This is one reason you want to work closely with your school counselor or an educational consultant.
Principle #4: Avoid Debt
There are many ways to avoid owing debt for your college education.
Earning high grades and getting high standardized test scores is the best way to avoid debt. Why? Because those two factors are used to determine how much merit aid a college will award a student. And since it’s renewable, you have a chance to reduce your out-of-pocket costs significantly.
Students are starting at community college to save money – and some two-year schools are offering free tuition to local students. One valedictorian started his college journey at a community college. They waived his tuition because they were so excited to have him as a student. He eventually graduated from Texas Tech and works as a pharmacist.
For those who don't want to start and transfer from a two-year college, should consider attending a public university (and commuting) to save additional money. To begin with, public schools are cheaper than private ones. Commuting means you're living at home and driving to school. It's a different experience - but you are avoiding lots of debt.
While some private universities have a sticker price of $70,000 per year, they offer the best merit aid. They have tuition discounts of almost 48 percent!
Apply for private scholarships. Lots and lots of scholarships. Earning lots of $100 and $250 scholarships will add up in the end. And that will keep you out of debt.
Just remember that loans are used to fill in the gaps and should not be considered until all other resources are exhausted. If you do get a loan, use your budgeting tools to devise a way to pay this off as soon as possible.
Principle #5: Use the Power of Compound Interest
In 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul instructed each follower of Christ to "set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up."
If you want your money to work for you, instead of you working for money, start saving early. As mentioned above, when you bring home your paycheck, you should start saving at least 10 percent of your income. Use the 10-10-80 Principle: if you tithe 10 percent and save 10 percent, you can live and enjoy the remaining 80 percent.
Then, when you invest that money in an account that is earning interest, you’ll see what compound interest does for you.
As you can tell from this article, it is important to start early when saving money and planning financially for college. Take the time to connect with an expert so you can make wise decisions.
If any of you lacks wisdom about career or college planning, pray to God. He will answer generously and without reproach (James 1:5).
These college admissions blogs offer expert advice and personal insight from coast to coast. Along with your school counselor or independent educational consultant, you can read these professionals to help you make wise decisions about planning for college.
Great College Advice - Representing the East Coast is former professor and administrator, Mark Montgomery, who shares his insider views about the college admissions process.
The College Solution - Representing the West Coast is Lynn O'Shaughnessy who has a comprehensive blog about all things college.
You may have 2-3 careers in your life. That's great! The first step is discovering your higher calling - and your major. Read these career blogs to learn more about what to study in college. Major. Minor. Double Major. Major. Minor. Double major. How will you get off to the best start in life?
Cracking the Career Code - Tom Henricksen shares insights in to finding a career that fits your personality and passion.
Exploring Engineering - Brown University offers a FREE pre-college course for students interested in a career in various fields of engineering. Look for other career focused blogs and summer programs at your local college or university.
NextStepU - Laura Sestito highlights Major Mondays, Trendy Tuesday, college tours, scholarships, and more. Its a fun look at life in college.
Get expert advice from a variety of professional college counselors.
Get Into College - Steve Schwartz is a professional college admission counselor with over a decade of experience and the instructor of Udemy's most popular course on college admissions, and the moderator of Reddit's college admissions forum.
GPS College Guidance - Susan McCarter, Director of College Guidance shares a high school guidance counselors perspective on college planning.
The Ivy Coach - The IvyCoach offers advice for students wanting to enter a highly competitive college. It's good advice to meet the admissions requirements for the most difficult college on your college list. Then you'll be at or near the top of the class for every other college!
College Admissions Partners - Based in Minnesota, Todd Johnson specializes in the BS/MD admissions process. This is a great resource if you are interested in going to medical school.
Admit One - Hosted by MyCollegeOptions, this is another site with general college planning resources.
These blogs provide details about grants, loans and other ways to cover college costs.
College Financial Aid Advisors - Jodi Okun shares financial aid insights on her blog and #collegecash (Twitter).
Go Financial Aid was founded as a result of the difficulties surrounding the financial aid process. Their blog is current, but their social media posts are not.
Student Aid Matters covers timely news, developments and perspectives relating to scholarships, college savings plans, student loans, financial aid application forms and other aspects of planning and paying for college.
College Search Game Plan shares tips from a CPA's point of view.
Please share the college planning blogs where you gain wisdom.
You may have read about the high school senior from Memphis, Tennessee who was accepted to 149 colleges and offered $7.6 million in scholarships.
As a future parent of a teenager, I am thrilled for her and her parents. Her college bills are paid!
As an educational consultant, I want to help you filter through a few outcomes reported in her story.
Her school counselor shared a list of colleges that did not have application fees. This was a smart, money saving decision! She would have spent over $6,500 on application fees alone (the average is $45 per college). And 20 percent don’t charge to apply. What is not shared is if the student created a list of colleges that were good academic, social, emotional, or financial fits.
Students should apply to at least four, but no more than twelve colleges and universities. Many counselors would argue that four is enough. While there is no cap on applying to colleges, anything over 20 can be overwhelming. While the reporter shared that she was maximizing her college options, this can be a stressful way to select a college.
As of May 26, when the article was published, the student was still trying to decide where to attend college. Decision Day (when your decision and deposit are due) was May 1. So, some of these colleges made the decision for her.
It is recommended that you visit each campus you’re interested in attending before applying. You wouldn’t buy a car (especially your first!) without checking it out, driving it, and finding out that is a good fit. So, if you haven’t visited a campus, you shouldn’t attend the college. I have visited 28 colleges in four years. This student would have visited one college a week for almost three years. That’s a lot of walking!
Colleges and universities are in the business of higher education. So, everyone must pay for their service. I’m assuming that most of this senior’s financial aid came from merit aid (which is totally, totally deserved because it’s earned by her grades and test scores). Merit aid is the best way to pay for college!
She was also crowned the charter school’s top Million Dollar Scholar (out of 145 seniors). Altogether, the senior class received $30 million in scholarship offers. A neighboring high school had 51 students receive more than $1 million in scholarships; some received $4 million.
Earning her bachelor’s degree at her top choice university has a total cost of attendance of $81,000. She won’t need $7,539,548 she received. What will happen to the private scholarships she was awarded but cannot use? Did she earn more than enough? What about the students who fell short of winning that scholarship?
While this is an extreme case, every student needs to finding the right college, needs to visit the colleges they want to attend (unless cost is prohibitive), and needs to find a way to pay for college.
I truly believe this student will excel wherever she attends.
College planning philosophies will differ from high school guidance counselors to independent educational consultants. However, the goal remains the same. It’s not about graduating high school. It’s not about being accepted to college. It’s about coaching students through the college planning process to find a college or university where they can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years. This will result in a lifetime of opportunities including saved time and money (4 vs 6 year graduation), increased earning potential (2xs more than a high school diploma), and establishing a healthier lifestyle regardless of age, income, or demographics.
With that goal in mind, mastering Internet technology for college counseling is important. You should log every podcast, virtual tour, college search engine, scholarship search database, and more so you can guide your students with confidence. Here are some tips to become their digital filter.
Podcasts give you a way to listen to relevant career and college planning content on your time schedule. Listen to a few before recommending them to others. Don’t be afraid of social media, it doesn’t bite. As a college planner, take the time to teach students how to interact and behave with adults using various social media platforms. Videocasts and videos are great ways to learn more about a specific career or topic.
The career search is missing from so many plans and usually limited to what major a student is interested in studying. Help students use personality, learning style, and career assessments to understand who they are and what they like. Look for a college search engine that does not focus on the best marketing campaign, but one that shares the best matches for your student. Before taking campus tours, virtual tours will give students insight, spark excitement, and generate questions to ask on their actual tour.
Since paying for college is at the front of everyone’s mind,helping students find and use quality financial aid, scholarship, tutoring and test prep companies is important. Financial aid sites will include federal and state aid. While students shouldn’t pay for scholarship options, they may find more value in paying for the personal interaction for tutoring and test prep.
Read. Take notes. Read. This is great advice for a student entering college. It’s also great advice for every career and college consultant. Books share planning tips and great stories. Blogs share ongoing, relevant information based on every subject mentioned above. And don’t be afraid to share your own personal experiences either. Write a blog for your local audience.
Once you’ve become your student’s digital filter, you’ve reached your destination. Success!
When thinking about where to find scholarships, consider where you work, play, eat, or volunteer. There may be a scholarship from your favorite place waiting for you. Some of these are for high school seniors, some are for students in college. With short application windows, you need to be prepared to apply when the application opens. Bookmark these sites and prepare to win. Have fun!
What Do You Drink?
Once you are in college, connect with Dr Pepper on Facebook, update your profile, and authorize the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway application. Create your goal by answering “What is your one of a kind goal and how do you plan to make an impact on the world?” Then get 50 people to vote for your goal so you can be eligible to submit a video. Finalists compete for up to $100,000 in tuition. Sounds refreshing!
Before you go to college, you can apply for the Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship. The CCSPS is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to high school seniors based on leadership and service that opens every August. This $20,000 scholarship it is awarded to 150 students. Winning Coca-Cola Scholars share a passion for social justice and many have overcome tremendous challenges to pursue their dreams. Coca-Cola also supports students in community college with two different types of scholarships. Have a coke and a scholarship!
What Do You Eat?
Asparagus Club Scholarship
If you are at least a college junior and are pursuing a career in the grocery industry, then put down those fries and apply for the Asparagus Club Scholarship. The winner wins $2,000 per semester for two years. And all the asparagus you can eat.
The KFC scholarship is not about eating chicken, but about serving chicken in a chicken restaurant. “The REACH Educational Grant Program™ helps KFC restaurant hourly Team Members and Shift Supervisors pursue their educational dreams. These $2,000 grants help Team Member recipients attend accredited four-year and two-year colleges, as well as trade/vocational schools.”
And for high school students who do not eat meat, fish, or fowl, you can apply for a vegetarian scholarship of $5,000 or $10,000. They are awarding students for promoting vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities. And many colleges offer vegetarian and vegan options on campus.
National Restaurant Association Scholarship
Do you love to eat? Do you want to work in the food industry? Are you a hungry college student? Do you have entrepreneurial ideas for a restaurant or grocery store? If you are hungry for something green ($3,500 - $7,500), then check the website for application details.
What Do You Wear?
Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program
Middle school and high school students who volunteer in their community can be nominated by an adult. Volunteer efforts must have occurred in the last year and must have benefited people not related to the student. Local winners will each receive a $50 Kohl’s Gift Card. Regional winners will each receive a $1,000 scholarship for higher education. National winners will receive a $10,000 scholarship, plus Kohl’s will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit of the student’s choice.
What Do You Use?
Duck Tape “Stuck at Prom”
High school juniors and seniors who want to creatively express themselves by making a prom dress and tux, can win up to $10,000 each and $5,000 for their high school. They also have honorable mentions for best purse, shoes, corsage, tie, jewelry and prop.
What is your GPA (Grit - Potential - Ambition)? Sometimes life circumstances prevent students from their dream of attending college. For those dealing with personal responsibilities at home or in their communities, the Dell Scholars program, an initiative of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, recognizes students who have overcome significant obstacles to pursue their educations. Not only will you get a $20,000 college scholarship, laptop, and textbook credits, they will work with you throughout your college experience to help you succeed.
What Do You Drive?
Toyota Teen Drive 365 Video Challenge
Grab your phone or video camera and create a 60-90 second video that makes teen drivers think carefully above driving safely. The grand prize winner will get a chance to reshoot their video with a Discovery Film Crew. High school students (9-12g) can work alone or with up to 4 students for awards of $15,000, $10,000, and $7,500. That is serious cash! Just don’t film this if you are driving. Kinda defeats the purpose.
Where Do You Bank?
Regions Riding Forward Scholarship Essay Contest
Hopefully you have opened a bank account and are learning how to manage your money. For this scholarship, you’ll write a 500-word essay about a famous or local African-American that has inspired and motivated you. Regions will award a $5,000 scholarship to 16 high school seniors who live in states with Regions branches and will attend college in the fall. Regions will award a $3,500 scholarship to 16 freshmen, sophomores or juniors who currently attend college in or permanently reside in states with Regions branches. Make it count. You could earn $10 per word!
Now it's your turn to hunt for scholarships where you work, play, eat, or volunteer.
Need money for college? I think I know your answer. Even though the best way to earn money for college is through merit aid – earned with high grades and high test scores – some students won’t qualify. That’s okay!
Another way to earn money for college is with scholarships - a form of financial aid. There are scholarships for average students, vegetarians, tuba players, making duct tape prom accessories, drawing waterfoul, and thousands upon thousands of other options. Some have nothing to do with grades, and everything to do with you. People want to support your commitment to earn a college degree. So let’s start earning!
As a high school senior, Christopher realized that he could not afford to pay for college, even though he had excellent grades and test scores. On his own, he started searching for scholarships. As a result, he amassed $1.3 million dollars in aid including the Bill Gates scholarship. While attending Drexel University, he and two classmates created Scholly, a scholarship database to help other college-bound students find scholarships.
So since you need money for college, here are a few steps to start earning money searching for scholarships.
Search for and favorite 2 or 3 scholarship databases. Using multiple sites is important because some may have 2,000, 20,000, or 2 million scholarships, and not all of them will apply to you. Consider using bigfuture (College Board), Scholarships.com, MeritAid.com, FinAid, Supercollege, and other state and local websites.
Create your profile. A general profile would generate lots of leads but would be time consuming to search through. A specific profile allows the database to match scholarships with key words.
Hustle. Don’t wait for scholarships to come to you, because they won’t. Unless your dad is bringing you scholarship applications from the school office. But who uses paper anymore!
Organize your search results. Maintain a spreadsheet or journal of the scholarships to manage deadlines, expectations, offers, and more.
Leverage your time. Now that you have some favorite sites, are organized, and ready to hustle, divide your work into “chunks.” You won’t complete your search in one weekend, so leverage your time. As an example, spend 30 minutes every other day to search and apply for 10 scholarship offers. Now this is where you “get paid” to search for scholarships. If you spend 10 hours searching and win one $500 award, you just earned $50 per hour! So work in chunks to manage your time wisely. After each search session, reward yourself with a chunky chocolate cookie!
Apply for more. If you are hustling like Christopher, use the power of ten. Search for 100 scholarships. Apply for 10. Win 1. Now apply for more.
Remember, there are NO scholarship guarantees. Even if you pay $100 for scholarship results, you will be disappointed. If you’ve started late, you’ll become desperate and may not make good decisions. No one can guarantee anything for anybody at anytime. If you pay for access like Scholly, know that matches don’t equate to money. You have to apply, be competitive, and wait months to know if you won the $500 prize.
Following these steps will make you a scholarship SCHOLAR. (See what I did there?)
Next week, I’ll share how you can search for scholarships based on what you drink, what you eat, and what you wear.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.