Scholarships are the best way to make college affordable! The largest scholarships are generally the academic scholarships which are determined by GPAs and test scores received from college exams such as the ACT, the SAT and now the CLT. Being awarded multiple scholarships is an opportunity for high school students to make college affordable without the stress of having to take out huge loans or requiring students to work several jobs while in college. Below are links to independent scholarship opportunities as well as articles that are subject appropriate.
Raising Scores to Earn More Money: When students take college exams seriously then raising their scores in order to earn higher scholarship amounts is a goal that can be reached. Take early tests such as the PSAT and the CLT10 because they come with scholarship potential (and, generally, the more times a student takes a test the more relaxed they will be and they will perform better)! There are multiple free tutorials on-line as well as practice tests available. Two programs that many homeschooling families use are 36 University (register with the code word Bryan and save $3 per month, reducing the price from $15 to $12) and College Prep Genius. Many families have found it worthwhile to invest in preparing their students for these tests by hiring private tutors, or by taking part in test prep classes.
There are several types of scholarships, as follows:
State Grants: Before (or when) your students enter high school, research the grants and scholarships offered by the state in which you live and compare them to the scholarships and grants in the state where the college is located that your students may want to attend (if outside of your state of residence). These scholarships are based on test scores, GPA and/or community service. Students will usually only qualify for state money if they have been a resident of that state during the students’ senior year (or for a year prior to attending college). For some, moving to the state where a college is located in order to qualify as in-state residents and to receive state grants is worth relocating! Knowing ahead of time what is offered will give families time to jump through required hoops or to make a move! We moved back from Florida to Tennessee before my 7th child’s senior year so he would qualify for scholarships specific to the county and to the state. (Bryan College offers a large scholarship to local seniors who attend Bryan and when we coupled that with state and federal grants his tuition was covered.)
Federal Grants: Every student (and their parents) should fill out the FAFSA in October of the senior year. The amount of money a student is eligible for is determined by the EFC (expected family contribution). Some money is limited and distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis so filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible is advised.
College Scholarships: Almost every college offers a variety of scholarships. Some stack and some do not. Research the scholarship possibilities at the top colleges of your choice to find out what your students might be able to receive. At some colleges the academic and athletic scholarships do not stack. A word of advice: If your student can earn an equal amount with an academic scholarship as with an athletic scholarship, take the academic scholarship. Athletes get injured or dropped from the team and there goes the scholarship. At Bryan College the athletic and academic scholarships stack so students do not have to choose between the two. You might be surprised at some of the scholarships offered by colleges. Because Bryan College is a Christian college, they offer scholarships for students whose parents are in full time ministry. In addition there are scholarships for children of alumni, homeschooled students, and more. Bryan also has a full tuition scholarship for students living in Tennessee whose parents make less than $35,000 a year. Bryan College has scholarships related to music, theater, martial arts, the honors program and more! This is another reason to have your top college choices narrowed down, in order to compare apples with apples once you are familiar with the scholarship possibilities from each school.
Work Scholarships: Many businesses will reward high school students with financial aid for college. If a student is going to have a steady job during high school then finding a company that will help with college would be a bonus. In the past I have heard that Chic fil A, Publix and UPS have such programs, but I have not confirmed that information. If you know of businesses that do this, send me a message or comment on this post!
Independent college scholarships: Before you even begin applying for independent scholarships, set up a separate email address. Why? Because you will be bombarded with emails and offers and your contact information will be shared with other organizations. Is it worth applying for independent scholarships? Absolutely! Every little bit helps. Below are links to get started, but be sure to research your area for local scholarship opportunities that might not be offered anywhere else. Ask friends and family members if they are aware of any local businesses that offer scholarships. It may take some time and effort, but the payoff could be huge. And this article includes a list of independent scholarships. Below is a list of additional links as well as some articles to consider.
Additional Outside Scholarships (Scroll down this page to see numerous additional scholarships.)
Added Bonuses: Check with the colleges you are considering to see if they have any offers unique to their schools. Bryan College offers students the possibility of earning a tuition free Masters Degree if they come to Bryan after high school and graduate with a 3.5 GPA.
By the junior year in high school students should have a few top choice colleges in mind so that they will be aware of scholarship potential, both from the college as well as the state where the college is located (assuming they will reside there during their senior year). It is okay to apply to several colleges so that one can better compare the offers that come from the financial aid departments. Remember to ask about any specific scholarship opportunities available to seniors. Pursing each and every opportunity available could pay off big time. As we tell our children, “Work hard and sling mud because some of it is bound to stick.” Go get ’em!