Knocking Down Scholarship Barriers
There’s plenty of money available for you to pursue a post-secondary education for either you or your child. Here are several barriers that could be getting in the way of securing money to pay for school.
Scholarships are only for top scholars and athletes. Many of the splashy news stories are certainly about high-profile students who snag a fully-paid-for scholarship. There are an unbelievable number of scholarships, however, that do not take grades or athletic ability into consideration whatsoever.
Scholarships are only for students attending college. Enrollment in vocational and trade schools has nearly doubled since 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And the good news for prospective students is that scholarships for vocational and trade schools are just as plentiful as scholarships for four-year colleges and universities.
You have to be a great writer. Winning scholarships is more often about what you write than how you write. And for some scholarships, following the application’s directions and answering the questions that are asked is more important than how well you write.
You have to be a high school student. Scholarships aren’t just for soon-to-be high school graduates. Many schools have degree programs – and corresponding scholarships – aimed at older adults who are looking to learn new skills or make a transition in their career. Scholarships are also available for graduate students.
Finding scholarships takes too much time. Yes, you’ll need to invest a certain amount of time to find and apply for scholarships, but finding financial aid may not require as much of a time investment as you may think with tons of available online tools.
What to do
Follow the directions. You’d be surprised how many applicants don’t read or follow the rules of the scholarships. Take the time to read through all instructions, and thoughtfully answer the questions that are asked.
Apply every year by January. For every year that you’re attending a post-secondary school, consider setting aside some time in the fall and early winter to complete scholarship applications for the upcoming school year. Many applications need to be completed by January for the following school year.
Ask your school. Nearly every college in the U.S. offers some form of merit-based financial aid. You’ll likely need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as many colleges have all students apply for scholarships by completing the FAFSA. This includes students who may qualify for only merit-based scholarships.
Ask local businesses. Many local businesses, civic groups, foundations, and religious or community organizations offer scholarships. So ask around in your community about available financial aid.