Paying for college is a huge concern for many students. A high sticker price may be enough to discourage students from applying. If you’re wondering about how you’ll pay for college, remember the sticker price is the cost before financial aid is applied.
Scholarships and grants are considered gift aid and can significantly lower this number. Gift aid is the best kind of aid because it’s free money you do not have to pay back. Gift aid can be one-time aid or renewable. Grants are typically based on your financial need determined by your FAFSA application (which you fill out each year).
As you explore scholarships, remember some are renewable, and some are even available for current college students. That means you can continue getting free money while you’re in college.
Here’s a quick breakdown of three types of common college scholarships.
Division I and Division II schools offer athletic scholarships. If you’re a student-athlete, consider researching schools that offer these scholarships. Once you find a few colleges you like, let them know you’re interested in playing for them, or have your coach reach out to the college on your behalf.
Merit scholarships are awarded to the strongest candidates in an applicant pool and typically consider a wide range of criteria/requirements, including grades, the rigor of high school coursework, ACT/SAT scores, class rank, personal statements, leadership, community service, and recommendations. You’re usually considered for merit aid when you submit your application for admission. Some merit aid is renewable.
Corporate scholarships support the pursuit of higher education for employees and their families and are more common in larger companies. It’s always a good idea to ask your parent(s)/guardian(s) if their employer offers scholarships to employees’ children. If you work and want to continue with the same company while in college, check with your employer to see if they offer this program.
Don’t be afraid to search online, but be aware of scholarship scams. You shouldn’t have to provide your social security number or pay for a scholarship application.
Searching for scholarships takes time and patience, but they’re worth the effort. Consider setting aside time each week to work on scholarship research and applications. Be sure to use your school counselors as a resource as well! Don’t let college costs discourage you from attending college. Use scholarships and grants to help you get there and stay there!