I’m pretty sure that most of you know by now that college can be quite expensive. Even a local college can put a rather large dent in your bank account, especially if you do not qualify for federal grants or other need-based aid. Yes, you can get a part-time job or take out student loans to help cover your expenses, but there may actually be a better solution…Scholarships! Here’s the catch, it actually takes some time and dedication to win, but wouldn’t you rather spend several hours writing scholarship applications at home than taking someone’s order at a drive-thru? Think about it; you could spend about 20 hours and win a $1,000 scholarship (or more), or 125 hours (at $8 an hour) tossing fries for roughly the same amount; it seems like a no-brainer to me. So, where do you find all of these college scholarships? It’s simple; click your heels together three times and say, ‘Show me the money!’ Just kidding…If you really want to find free money for college, check out these resources.
1. Guidance Counselor
Your guidance counselor is not just there to give you grief when you do something wrong, he/she is actually invested in helping you succeed in high school and beyond. Do yourself a huge favor and stop by your counselor’s office and ask about local scholarships. Most guidance counselors have either a three-ring binder or file on local opportunities, and some of the more savvy ones actually host their own websites and social media forums, too.
Are you a member of a school or community club/organization? Chances are your local chapter or the national office may offer college scholarships. Organizations that are either academic or service-based typically provide awards for outstanding members, especially those who have served as an officer or participated in projects. Be sure to check with every organization that you are a member of or have volunteered with over the past year. If your parents belong to an alumni, career or other association, have them inquire about possible scholarships, as well.
Some employers are not great about letting their employees know about available scholarships and tuition reimbursement opportunities. You should check with not only your employer (if you work), but also your parents’ and grandparents’ employers, too. If any of your family members are retired, ask them to contact their plan’s administrator to see if any scholarship opportunities exist.
The Internet has a wealth of scholarship information, but not all of it is good. Stay away from services or scholarship programs that require you to pay a fee, and be sure the scholarship provider lists contact information, such as an email, phone and/or mailing address. Use several free scholarship search services, like ScholarshipExperts.com, to ensure you don’t miss any opportunities. You can also find scholarships using Google, by simply using a few keywords, such as ‘music scholarships’ or ‘2013 essay contests.’ Other good online resources include Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Reddit.
It’s important to start your scholarship search as early as possible, but if you’re already in your last semester of high school, don’t give up hope; there are still plenty of opportunities out there for you. Start incorporating scholarships into your weekly routine, allowing enough time to search for programs, complete the applications and have someone edit your work before submitting the final product. It may take some time before you win, but those who keep at it are usually rewarded.
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