In the world of scholarships and every parent’s struggle to pay for college, there is a dizzying array of choices and options marketed to juniors and seniors. This post reveals some of the most valuable secrets that every parent and student should know in order to maximize their scholarship offers.
Scholarship Preparation Begins Before High School. In way too many schools and homes, administrators, teachers, parents and students start talking about scholarships about halfway through high school. By then it is too late. Grade point average (GPA), extracurricular activities, and service and volunteer opportunities demonstrate what you’ve accomplished through high school and are extremely important to scholarship selection committees. The best time to begin preparing for scholarships is in middle school or junior high. The second best time is now.
Make Sure That You Know The Deadlines. Colleges have strict deadlines for priority scholarship consideration, usually December 1 of your child’s senior year. Plus, if your school requires the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) then there is a separate deadline to have that paperwork submitted. Be sure that all applications and paperwork have been submitted prior to the stated deadlines.
Some Scholarships Are Automatic. We tend to think of scholarships as awards which have many applicants with only one recipient. Almost every college has merit scholarships for incoming freshmen, which are awarded based on academic achievement. To qualify, you must generally meet a GPA and entrance exam score combination. Know what those limits are by checking the scholarship information on each school’s web site.
You Must Enter To Win. This is a mistake that I made during my high school years. In order to receive a scholarship offer from a given school, you must be accepted as a student at that university. Schools don’t just send out scholarship offers to all students who qualify; you must go through the application for admission process in order to be considered. This means that you must complete the application for admission, pay the required application fees, and submit your high school transcript and entrance exam scores for each school that you’re interested in. Don’t overlook this very important step.
Bigger Is Not Always Better. It is easy to look at the monetary value of all scholarship awards and take the one with the highest value. That’s not necessarily the best approach. A better way to look at it is to figure out the total cost of attendance at each school and determine how much will not be covered after all scholarships and financial aid has been applied. The “right” choice from a financial standpoint is the one with the smallest deficit.
In the next post, I will reveal four more secrets that parents and students need to know. By equipping yourself with this knowledge and paying attention to all of the deadlines, you will find yourself miles ahead of the pack and in a position to maximize your scholarship opportunities.
Application Question – Have you begun to research scholarship opportunities? Are you facing upcoming deadlines for your high school senior? Do you talk with your child about rounding out their resume as they approach scholarship time?
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