Summer is quickly winding down (thank goodness says this slightly almost crazed mother of four) and back-to-school is right around the corner. That means it’s time for parents to take their kids shopping for the items they need to go back, but it means some parents are looking to pack up their kids and drop them off at their first apartment or dorm as they enter college for the first time. It’s an exciting but kind of scary moment in the life of any young person and their parents, and it’s something that most all of us have faced or will face at some point.
The scary part is actually the paying for college part. It’s not cheap, and it requires a lot of work, thought and effort. You don’t want to be a statistic graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, so you have to find an alternative method of affording college. If you have wealthy parents happy to further your education, then good for you; take advantage of that offer to pay for school. However, if you’re like the vast majority of other people in the world, you’re going to want to know how to apply for scholarships.
I know that many people think that this is a waste of time anymore, but it’s not. I remember a few years go (a few…ha) when I was entering college for the first time and I was looking for scholarships. I thought for quite a while that it wasn’t even worth my time to apply for anything less than a thousand dollars. What a silly jerk I was at the time. Any free money that someone is willing to give you that you do not have to pay back is worthwhile, even if it’s not that much. I learned that the hard way; and I don’t want to you to make the same mistakes.
There are a few things you should know about applying for scholarships, and knowing them is going to make the process easier and more efficient. Just remember; a little time now filling out scholarship applications saves a lot of time in the future paying back loans you don’t have the money to afford at this rate. Here’s what you need to know to help you in the scholarship application process.
Fill Out the FAFSA
The common misconception here is that you need only fill this out if you are applying for student loans. It is this thought process that often causes a number of students to miss out on some amazing scholarship opportunities. The FAFSA is for everyone. Even if you are not applying for loans or financial aid, you will still find this useful. It will determine whether or not you qualify for any grants or any other money that does not have to be paid back when you graduate. That, my friends, is priceless.
Read the Instructions Twice
You don’t want to make a mistake in applying for a scholarship, so be sure to read all the instructions more than once. Trust me when I say that you can miss things very easily. When I was applying for scholarships, I made a list of everything on the instructions and checked it off as I went so that I was sure I would not miss a single detail. You don’t want to miss out on free money because you used the wrong size font or the wrong spacing requirements in an essay, do you?
You Don’t Have to Be A New Student
The other good thing about scholarships is that you do not have to be a high school senior to apply for them. In fact, many companies are happy to allow anyone who is registered to attend college to apply for scholarships. You need only be a student. Your age does not play a part in this unless, of course, you are applying for a specific scholarship that does list age or high school or something of that nature as a requirement.
Size Does Not Matter
Don’t do what I did; don’t ignore scholarships that seem low to you. No amount of free money for school is beneath you; trust me. You can take a $300 scholarship that doesn’t seem like much and pay for a book or a class or something, and it makes a huge difference. Take the time to apply for all these scholarships, because all the small ones will eventually begin to add up and create a substantial amount of money with which you can go to school and pay your way.
Just remember to read the instructions, to take your time and to look everywhere for scholarships. There are scholarships almost everywhere you turn, but you have to be willing to put forth the work to find them and apply for them.
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