As you creep closer and closer to the day that it’s time to decide where you want to go to college, the financial aspect of tuition costs, room and board and other college expenses can start to weigh heavily on your mind.
This is where scholarships can make a difference and now is the time to really focus on turning in those applications with spring deadlines and make the final push for every additional dollar you can find.
Scholarships are free money. Sure you have to spend time and energy completing applications, writing essays, and seeking out letters of recommendation, but if you spend two hours on an application and get a $500 scholarship you just got paid $250 an hour tax free.
Scholarships are awarded for almost everything; you just have to put in the work to find the ones that fit your skills and experience. Did your parent or grandparent serve in the Armed Forces? Are you left-handed? Do you have a unique talent? Are you involved in extra-curricular activities or community service? All of these things could qualify you for a scholarship or two.
Check with your school counselor for local scholarship options and have your parents check with their employers to see if they offer scholarships for the children of employees. Do you have an after-school job? Check with your employer too. Many employers have scholarships for their employees. Scholarships are a great way for employers to give back to the students that are closest to them.
It’s important to talk to each college you are considering attending about any institutional scholarship opportunities. Check not only with admissions, but also with the department that holds your major area of study. There may be scholarships specific to your course of study or the department, as well as internship or job shadow opportunities once you are on campus.
You can also do online searches. Check out www.ICANsucceed.org/scholarships to review the ICAN Scholarship Database, along with other safe online searches. Scholarship searches shouldn’t cost you money that could otherwise be put towards your education; NEVER pay for scholarship searches or assistance.
There’s a lot of work that goes into the scholarship process, and it can seem very overwhelming, but it is worth every minute when you receive those awards. And every dollar earned through scholarships is a dollar you don’t have to borrow and repay through student loans. If you need some guidance through the process, check out the scholarship process video on the ICAN YouTube Channel.
And don’t forget to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of your scholarship process. Many scholarship applications require the FAFSA to be completed to qualify so it’s a good first step no matter where you plan to attend. ICAN offers free FAFSA completion assistance across the state and also hosts the Iowa College Goal Sunday program which offers free assistance as well. If you need FAFSA Completion or scholarship process assistance call ICAN at 877-272-4692.
Financial aid and scholarships can seem overwhelming, just take it one step and one application at a time and you’ll do just fine.
By: Iowa College Access Network
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