It’s no secret that the cost of a college education has grown over time. Finding ways to pay for college that don’t involve borrowing has become ever more important to students and their families.
A scholarship is money given to a student that does not need to be paid back. Scholarships are given out by foundations, nonprofit organizations, businesses, some colleges, as well as community members or philanthropists.
People are most familiar with scholarships that are awarded for merit in academic or athletic pursuits, but there are also scholarships for a great variety of skills and talents. The trick is to find them.
In honor of National Scholarship Month, we at Mascoma Bank would like to share some tips and tools for finding a good-fit scholarship for the student in your life.
- Apply, apply, apply. It’s recommended to apply for as many scholarships as possible. According to StartWithFAFSA.org, high school seniors should apply for two to three scholarships every week. They recommend starting with UCanGo2.org and OKCollegeStart.org.
- Put the power of the internet to work for you. Use your favorite search tool to search “scholarships,” “financial aid,” “paying for college,” and don’t forget to include search terms unique to you. Do you play a musical instrument? A sport? Want to study abroad? Have a particular ethnicity? Want to study a unique subject? In all likelihood, there’s a scholarship for that. FastWeb.com is an online scholarship search provider that matches students who complete a profile with them.
- Pell Grants. This federal program awards money to students with high financial need who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. To determine eligibility and to apply, students or their parents must complete the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
- Talk to prospective colleges and scour their websites. Many colleges and universities have resources to guide prospective students, such as the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships at Boston University or Grants & Scholarships at the University of California system.
- Talk to your guidance department. Most high schools have a guidance department staffed by friendly, knowledgeable guidance counselors who want to help you find a way to pay for a student’s education. Remember to tap this resource.
- Don’t forget the military. In return for military service, there are a number of ways that the government provides financial aid to servicemembers. Visit the education section of Military.com to learn more. FinAid.com provides a list of links to many government programs, including a list of financial aid available to veterans and dependents
A college education opens doors and is generally considered an excellent investment. There’s a lot of help out there when it comes time to pay for that education, so do your homework and find the scholarships that fit your needs.