I don’t know about you, but we needed help paying for college. Most parents today find they need some—or much—help with the astronomical tuition costs at most schools today.
Every little bit helps and every BIG bit helps. So Steve and I thought we would share some ideas that worked for us. Hope they help you, too!
Start your engines early!
It was my experience that we needed to start early, no later than junior year, to consider all our options.
First and foremost, students need to see if they qualify for any of the government assisted grants or student loans. The best place to find that info is at www.studentloans.gov or www.studentaid.ed.gov. This site is run by the U.S. Department of Education and will easily answer any and all of your questions. Start early looking at this site because that will determine how much student aid you need to secure.
Too much student loan debt?
While we are on the subject, I just have to caution you to be careful about how much debt your student incurs during the college years. You don’t want them to be saddled with a mountain of student loans when they get out of college. Explore all other options and then only use student loans as a last resort, not a first choice.
Here’s your best sources for scholarship leads.
Your high school’s guidance office or college counseling office can guide you towards scholarships that may be available locally. Many service clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis offer scholarship opportunities to deserving students.
As soon as your child decides on a college, and even before they are accepted, contact the College Financial Aid office and ask what private scholarships are available. Many times wealthy donors will endow a scholarship for a student from a certain region, background or with a certain GPA to attend that college.
God Bless the United States of America and those who serve!
If your student is interested in the military, contact your local U.S. Congressman or Senator’s office. In order to attend one of our Service Academies, your student will need a nomination from your local representative. All Members of Congress have Academy Boards who review local candidates and recommend them for appointments to the Academies. The Academies are free to the student, but a required number of years of service is expected.
Honor Camper! This is a funny, funny story.
When my daughter was in 6th grade, she attended a day camp where they learned to canoe. She had gone the year before and was disappointed when she did not get an award at Awards Day, so she made that her goal for the next summer.
Fast forward to Canoe Day: She is in a boat with a little boy who was struggling to row. Like little boys tend to do to little girls, he annoyed my daughter terribly. When I picked her up, she proudly announced that the only thing keeping her from whacking that little boy with her oar was the fact that she might not get the Honor Camper Award if she did.
“Whatever works, Sweetie. It’s good to have goals.”
And yes, come Awards Day, she got Honor Camper! She still has the trophy. Although we did not put it on her college applications, she did use the experience to write one of her college essays. You just never know!
Starting in 9th grade, encourage your child to participate in as many extracurricular activities as they can. Church, Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, and any service club can give them a well-rounded college application. Encourage them to take leadership positions in those activities.
SAT is not the only thing that matters!
Grades and SAT or ACT scores are a big part of college admissions, but so is participating in school activities, sports, clubs, and Student Council. It will enhance your child’s ability to not only get in the college of their choice, but to qualify for scholarships.
If you start early, there is money out there. The best tactic is to beat the bushes and look under every rock. You will be surprised at all you find!
Good luck! I know you want the best for your child and you will be successful.
Please let us know what you’ve discovered about the college scholarship process. Share your tips!