Free Money and Where to Find it
Since it doesn’t look as if college will be getting cheaper anytime soon, you’ll want to devote some time to seeking out sources of money to help cover the cost of your/your child’s higher education. In general, the best sources of college cash come from the schools themselves and the government, so it is critically important to file a FAFSA and, if necessary, a CSS Profile, and do it early.
Beyond those sources, there are people and organizations out there that want to toss some cash your way, as well. You can apply for some of these scholarships as early as your freshman year of high school, although most are targeted to twelfth graders. A few—the most competitive ones—are sizable, while the majority are on the petite side but, heck, a buck is a buck. Most of these scholarships have qualifiers—GPA, intended major, community service, and so on. Some require you to write an essay, make a video, or complete a project, while others just ask you to fill out a form. Seniors, with all (or at least most) of your college apps completed, you have no excuse not to start applying for scholarship money.
Before we get to the specifics, a word about scholarship strategy. While most scholarships are small potatoes in the grand scheme of college costs, avoid the temptation to scoff at the $500, $1,000, $2,000 scholarships you come across. Because of the multitudes of scoffers, these small scholarships often go unawarded and are, therefore, the easiest to get. And since a lot of small awards add up to some serious cash, going after a number of the little guys can be a smart strategy in the hunt for college money.
But back to the big money. Here is a sampling of some of the big-dollar scholarships still open:
$10,000 per year. Due January 9.
The Live Más Scholarship $7 million awarded in various amount. Due January 20.
The Coolidge Scholars Program Full-ride. Due February 24.
Up to $25,000 per year. Due February 27.
Awards of $10,000, $25,000, and $50,000. Due March 10.
There are any number of scholarship search engines online. We suggest you start with some of these:
And, finally, seek out the scholarships in your own backyard. These scholarships are typically less-well advertised and often go unclaimed. Research companies and organizations with which you have a direct connection:
· Your/your parent’s employer
· Your church/synagogue/religious organization
· Your local Chamber of Commerce
· Affinity groups such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, etc.
· Labor unions and vocational/professional associations such as the National Association of School Psychologists