My son is starting college this fall and we have begun in earnest for that ever elusive pass to a better education and an easier one on our pocket books. I’ll explain some things about scholarships and college grants plus the things you should watch out for.
College is expensive; my son will be spending about $5,500 a year for his start into adult life and the education he wants. He is going to North Dakota State University and has been applying for scholarships and grants like crazy. Some of the things he has been getting into and receiving have been just a little too good to be true though. And with his parents that are both wary of anything that sounds too good to be true he has a good head start on his college years.
We will start off with your student’s current school and the help they can give you. After you figure out where your student wants to go and what they want to take at college you have to apply for student loans and scholarships. That is assuming you can’t whip out the check book and sign on the dotted line for your kid’s college. For those of us that can’t we have many helpful places and the first stop you should make is your child’s school. The school’s counselors will have applications for both FAFSA and other places to apply for loans and scholarships. But before we continue with some of that I want to add some words of warning.
DO NOT PAY FOR ANY STUDENT AID APPLICATIONS OR SCHOLARSHIPS
Any scholarship you apply for or grants should not cost you a dime. The idea is that you get money, not give it away. If you apply for any kind of grant or scholarship and they ask you to pay for it, then it’s not a grant or scholarship. Funds for students to help them go to college are not supposed to cost them to apply for. They should be free and should help you get not give money. This is something that I cannot stress enough, grants and scholarships are money going to the student, and should be free. I don’t care what the email or letters tell you, any grant or scholarship from legitimate or real places are free. We have received many emails and letters in the mail and they have gone to either that real or digital waste basket because they start out by saying how much money your student can get and then how much it will cost for you to apply. Applications are free to all legitimate student aid, colleges will tell you this as well as I can. So if you don’t know about anything you get in the mail, either electronic or your home box, ask your college admissions office or even your high school counselors. They are the ones who know the most about this and can give you all kinds of help. The only things you should be paying for are the college admissions and things related to this, grade transfers from the high school, testing scores like SAT and ACT, etc. If your student does well in school you will get all kinds of other things like scholar registration and honor student stuff that does not have anything to do with college. This kind of stuff is to get your money and not your student into college. If your student gets very good grades you will get something from the National Honor Roll Society or maybe others but these are not to help your student get into college, they are to publish in their own things the grades of your student. They will not help you get into a better college. The only things you need to apply for and get scholarships and grants will all be free of charge. Well, enough about that and on to the good stuff.
FAFSA is the Federal Student Aid from the Department of Education and this is your first stop on the road to college. Here you will get a pin number and a student number to apply for things like the Pell Grant and federal grants and loans. This is the main source of student loans for anyone that is a US citizen and even for many who are not. It’s easy to apply for your student and all the information can be found here: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ You and your student will have to apply for a PIN and use your students information to fill out the application and start the process for all the loans, scholarships and grants available from the Department of Education. This is the most important place to start and your school will require you to do this to apply for their college unless you’re paying for it all by yourself.
A few other good sources for student scholarships and grants are local large businesses. Your school will probably have a list of local area businesses such as Best Buy and McDonalds that offers student scholarships. Many businesses have legitimate scholarships that just have an application to fill out and you will find out if you will be awarded any before college starts.
Many of the places you want to look on the internet will be ones that do not ask you to do anything other than apply for the site to get a password. They will not have any fees to sign up for student aid or scholarships. Here is a list of places that have good research and lists for scholarships, grants and other student aid for your college bound student. Simply go to the site and read how to use the various things they have but be careful, just because they list things does not mean they are totally legitimate. Again if you have to give money to get money it’s not a good thing.
College Computers: http://www.college-computers.net/scholarship/scholarship-form.shtml
Easy Aid: http://www.easyaid.com/computer/scholarship.html
All Scholar: http://www.allscholar.com/
Many places will also have scholarships or grants if your student belongs to organizations such as 4-H, FFA, Scouting, sports or many others. Get your student involved early in high school, say their freshman year, in some type of good organization and not only will they benefit as a human being from helping others in ones like this they will get the added benefit of using their community support and involvement for applying for college and student aid. Many organizations will have scholarships from them or know places to get some. Churches, Veterans organizations such as American Legion and many other places that you or your family, friends or relatives may be involved with may know of some places to go for student aid. There are also some special awards and scholarships available from places that specialize in volunteerism and other things like this. Here’s one for community leaders who make a difference in their community called Do Something.
Do Something Brick Award: http://www.dosomething.org/awards/brick/apply/
There are many others that you can find from some of the web sites I have mentioned earlier; awards and grants for special achievements and involvement are common from organizations that want to honor the achievements of youth who are going to college. Just check to make sure they are legitimate and don’t require fees to sign up for them.
The best place for you to start applying for scholarships and grants is your school and the college you will be attending. They have all the best and legitimate places. There are many places that will want essays or other work from the student on various topics and you should encourage your student to apply, even if you don’t think they will get it. You should apply for as many scholarships and any that you have any chance of getting. If you meet any criteria or requirements for the scholarship or grant apply, it can’t hurt and you just might get it. Any dollar amount towards your student’s education will help and you should not count out the smaller aid or the ones you don’t think you can get. Many times just being a minority or having some other obscure qualification is enough and you may get something from the application. You don’t always know what they are looking for and you may get money or other aid from a place just for applying. My point is the more places you apply the better chance you have of receiving help towards college. So get out there and work towards a better future for your student and they have to sit down and get to work themselves.