College scholarships come in many award sizes and in hundreds of
different categories, but very few will pay the full cost of a four-year
Here are some helpful tips on how to get the best college scholarships
and grants available:
- Stay away from those "College Scholarship Search" services,
as they're usually a waste of money and time. These are companies
that typically charge fees ranging from $50 - $200 or more, but
do little, if anything, to help students and their families obtain
quality grants and scholarships.
The reality is that most information about obtaining college scholarships
and grants is available for free. A trip to your public library,
or surfing internet websites like www.fastweb.com
can unveil a number of funding sources you're qualified to receive.
- Apply at schools where there is an abundance of college scholarships
and grants. This is one of the best strategies you can employ.
The reality is that all schools are not equal in their ability
to offer gift-aid. Consult with sources like the Peterson's Guide
to find out which colleges tend to grant a larger portion of aid
in the form of gift-aid (college scholarships, grants, tuition discounts,
fee waivers, etc.), rather than self-help aid (loans and work study).
For example, Stanford fills 85% of a students Financial Need with
free money, while Montana State University in Billings fills only
52% with gift aid, according to the latest available reported figures.
- Apply early! Gift aid is obviously the most favorable
type of financial aid and includes college scholarships, grants,
tuition discounts, fee waivers, and all other types of aid that
does not have to be repaid. They tend to go fast and a
lot of it is given on a first-come, first-served basis. This is
why it's so important to file early … which usually means
as soon after January 1st as possible.
- Check what type of college scholarships and grants are available
from your state. There are many state-administered programs that
offer prestigious and/or attractive awards. For example, there's
the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship, which pays $1,500 a year
to certain high school graduates, and the Cal Grant Program in
California, which awards up to $9,700 per year to cover the cost
of an education.
Similarly, most states have special education programs for the
disabled, and there are programs through the federal government
related to the military.
- If you're a top student, select colleges that prize academic
excellence. Understand that many schools do not offer aid
packages to cover all of a student's recognized financial need.
This difference between a student's financial need and the school's
award is called the "gap". For some schools this "gap" is narrowed
if the student has achieved high academic or other types of honors.
The National Association of College Admissions Counselors reports
that 23% of all colleges close the "gap" based on the academic desirability
of a student. Some schools, such as Bard College in New York, accept
any student who ranks in the top 10% of his or her public high school
at the tuition rate of the student's state university. That can
be a huge decrease from Bard's typical $27,000 price tag.
Colleges also offer specific scholarships for special achievements
and general excellence.
Approximately 20% of these types of grants come from a schools
own institutional money. For example, Boston University awards a
college scholarship that pays nearly $20,000 of its $27,000 yearly
tuition cost, as does Ohio University. Both are based on scholastic
excellence. Scholarships for music, art and athletics are also available
and are clearly defined.
The reality is you will not rely on any one form of financial aid.
You will probably get a combination of college loans, grants, private
money, work study, and scholarships. Staying on top of all the help
that is available is your best approach.
For a simple, step-by-step approach to getting all the "free money"
college grants and scholarships possible, a recommended resource
is "The No B.S. Guide To Getting Maximum College Financial Aid".
Details can be found at www.college-financial-aid-secrets.com.