As the academic year comes to a close, many college students face a harsh financial reality: Scholarships and grants that made the current year affordable will soon come to an end. Some awards are only intended to be applied to the first year of college; others carry renewal requirements, such as a minimum GPA or a specific major, that go unmet.
If fewer scholarship and grant funds will be available to you or your student next year, start planning now to make up the shortfall. Here are three ways students may replace non-renewable scholarships.
1. Find new scholarships. Although many scholarships are available to freshmen, you may be able to find scholarships for upperclassmen with a little effort.
- If you have settled on a major, start with your academic department or college. Search the department website, visit the departmental office and talk to your academic adviser.
- Stop in the campus financial aid office and see what scholarships are offered to students who have your academic and extracurricular interests.
- Check with professional and pre-professional organizations about programs to help students in your intended career field.
- Search online databases for upperclassmen scholarships. Certain scholarships like those offered by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and the Morris K. Udall Foundation are only for upperclassmen, while others allow applicants of any undergraduate level.
- Look for local and small scholarships. A lot of students tend to compete for national and large scholarships. You may have better luck standing out among applicants for smaller and local awards.
2. Increase earnings. If you are unable to earn new scholarships, you may want to consider adding work hours.
- During the school year, you may be able to find positions on or near campus that allow you to prepare for your intended career while earning money. Look for jobs as a teaching assistant, tutor or research assistant.
- Resident Assistants in the dorms may qualify for reduced room and board costs, while other campus positions may allow you to study during slow times. Businesses near campus often hire college students during the academic year as well. Even part-time positions can pay well over time.
- Over breaks, you can work more hours to increase income. Summer research on campus or for private, nonprofit and government organizations can help you create career connections.
- If you need an internship to meet graduation requirements, look for paid positions that will offset your tuition, housing and transportation costs. Some colleges and organizations also offer stipends to help students who have an unpaid internship or co-op.
3. Lower costs. Especially in combination with increased earnings, lower costs can help you make up for the loss of non-renewed scholarships.
- Consider living off campus. Carefully weigh the cost for paying rent (most leases run a full year instead of the 10-month academic term), furnishings, utilities, groceries and transportation against room and board rates to determine if moving will save you money.
- Even small changes can help you save a large amount of money if you are consistent and diligent.
- Plan ahead when purchasing furnishings, supplies and books to save. Make sure you take advantage of the least expensive option that will allow you to succeed.
- Stick to a budget to cut costs year-round. Know where you can save the most money with a little effort.
By: Iowa Student Loan
When you receive your financial aid award notification, check it carefully. Here are some circumstances you may run into and what you can do.
||What to Do
|Your contact information is incorrect.
||Contact the financial aid office with your updated information. You also need to log in to the FAFSA portal to update your information.
|Your tax or other financial information has changed since you submitted your FAFSA.
||Contact the financial aid office if your financial situation has changed drastically due to loss of a parent’s job or other circumstances. You will need to log in to the FAFSA portal and update anything that has changed due to estimating or amendments made to your tax returns.
|You want to be considered independent of your parents for financial aid purposes due to a severed relationship or abusive situation.
||If you have extenuating circumstances in regard to your relationship with your parents, contact your financial aid office to clarify the situation and determine the dependency appeal process.
|You didn’t receive a federal or state award you expected.
||If you believe you qualify for but didn’t receive a federal or state grant or scholarship, first determine if the award is automatically granted to all eligible applicants.
- If you didn’t receive an automatic award, contact the agency responsible for administering it and notify your financial aid office.
- If the award is not automatic, funds may not be available for all applicants. You may try contacting the agency administering the award to see if any remaining funds will be awarded later.
|You didn’t receive an institutional award you expected.
||Not all awards are automatically granted to all eligible students. If you met the college’s priority deadline, contact the financial aid office to determine if any institutional awards are still available. If the award was offered by a specific department, ask a financial aid representative if the office has been made aware of the award.
|A state or federal award was submitted to the wrong college.
||Contact the agency responsible for administering the award. Also notify your financial aid office and the financial aid office at the other institution of the mistake.
|You received an award you didn’t expect.
||Many colleges consider your application for admission to also be your application for other institutional awards. If you feel you didn’t meet the qualifications for an award, contact the financial aid office to clarify.
|A grant or scholarship awarded by an outside entity isn’t shown in your award packet.
||You need to tell your college about all grants and scholarships you receive. If an award is missing, contact the financial aid office.
|You received a work-study award.
||This award may be dependent on you finding a work-study position and earning a paycheck based on hours actually worked. Start with the financial aid section on the college’s website. If that doesn’t contain information about how to locate and apply for work-study positions, contact the financial aid office.
|You didn’t receive enough aid to pay for your costs of attendance.
||If you are significantly short of aid, you may need to consider:
- Contacting the financial aid office to inform them of your situation and see if you qualify for any additional aid.
- Working more to earn income to pay for your shortfall.
- Asking about monthly payment plans.
- Exploring less expensive education options, such as a public university or community college.
- Relying on family to help with the cost of your education through gifts or federal PLUS Loans for parents.
- Taking out private student loans to cover the remaining expenses.
By: Iowa Student Loan
When it’s cold outside and you feel stuck inside, a good way to pass the time is to focus on the future. And this time of year is perfect for scholarships. There are a lot of organizations and businesses that are opening up their scholarship applications now and you can get a lot accomplished.
- Start with a general search and get organized.
Outline the scholarships you qualify for by due date and then make a list of the requirements. Ask yourself: do you need essays, and what are the topics? Do you need letters of recommendation; how many and from who? Do you need a list of your accomplishments?
- Make sure your activities resume is up-to-date.
If you need to create one, visit ICANsucceed.org/materials and download the template from the resource zone. Having this list of your accomplishments well-organized is a great way to help those writing you recommendations.
- Ask people to write you letters of recommendation.
Provide these people a copy of your activities resume, along with anything specifically requested from the scholarship. If you need a general letter, mention that, but you can also ask for a letter that touches on specific things requested in the scholarship application guidelines. Be sure to give your letter writers plenty of time. A couple days is not enough. Try and give two to three weeks if possible.
- Focus your time on the applications and essays.
Some applications will have specific topics for your essay, while others will just ask for a personal statement. Make yourself stand out and be unique. Share your personality while following the guidelines provided. Your essay may be one of a hundred or more a scholarship review committee reads; you want to stand out and be remembered. Take your time and always have someone else read your essays and get feedback. Never submit your first draft.
Scholarships are a lot of work, but the payoff can be big if you take your time and really put in the effort. Remember a couple hours spent on a scholarship worth $500 could wind up paying you $250 per hour. That’s the best part-time job you could possibly find to help you pay for college.
If you need help with the scholarship process you can check out ICAN’s virtual presentation on the scholarship process. This video goes through searches, applications, essays and letter writing. Visit www.icansucceed.org/virtualpresentations to learn more. You can also begin your search for scholarships with the ICAN scholarship database: www.icansucceed.org/scholarships.
And finally, if you’re a senior, don’t forget to apply for the ICAN scholarship at www.icansucceed.org/ICANscholarship.
By: Iowa College Access Network
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