November is National Scholarship Month. Choosing which college to go to is one thing; finding a way to pay for it is another thing — which can actually be more of a determining factor than one anticipates. November is the month dedicated to raising awareness of scholarship opportunities for both future and current students look into for the upcoming year.
Money, Money, Money…
About two thirds of full time students paid for college using grants and scholarships. That’s a significant chunk of students relying on grants and scholarships to fund their education. However, it’s important to note that many scholarship applications ask that you file FAFSA as part of their process. I wrote about the importance of FAFSA in another piece.
Scholarships and Grants
My high school advisor always encouraged students to do two things: apply to different colleges, and apply to any and all scholarship applications. His reasoning was for us to potentially have a little cushion available, and to take advantage of the “free money”. I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff? In addition, he always reminded us that it never hurt to try; even if it was only $50, it could be used towards textbooks or other school expenses. I often wish I had listened to his advice, because although I was accepted to more than 15 colleges, when it came down to it, affordability and tuition costs were what drove me to my current university.
My dream was always to attend school out-of-state; much like many other students who want independence and space away from parents. However, more often than not, we don’t consider the costs that are associated with leaving. Although only 34% of students take out federal loans to pay for their education, the increasing costs of tuition and expenses are leading to students taking out larger loans.
Why Scholarships Are the Best Option
Apart from grants, scholarships are the next best way to pay for your college education. There are entire websites dedicated to matching students with scholarships. In addition, many large corporations offer scholarship programs.
Some reliable scholarship search engines include:
- Always make sure to check out your college/university websites for specific scholarships that institution may offer.
Although the scholarship process can be time-consuming and difficult to navigate, it could save you money on your education and it will be worth it in the end. Like Rihanna says, “work, work, work” for that free money. Your bank account will thank you later.
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