Knowing how many smart, talented students are vying for scholarship awards may make you and your child feel like he or she could not possibly win one. Sadly, many common assumptions about scholarships are false, and highly eligible candidates don’t even bother to apply. Parents go along because they believe the same myths and don’t want to interfere in their kids’ already stressed lives.
Given the costs of college, you owe it to your own financial future to ensure that your child maximizes the possibility of winning scholarship money. There are scholarships for everyone, and you can make a big difference in your child’s success, winning them.
Here are 5 important reasons why you can and should get involved in the search for scholarship success:
1. There is a lot of money out there
This is the simplest and most basic reason not to leave this area completely to your child’s initiative and follow-through. According to Sallie Mae, the foremost education-related financial services company, there are currently over 3 million scholarships worth over 16 billion dollars. Don’t let mistaken assumptions cause you to leave money on the table.
2. Not all scholarships are merit-based
We’ve all read stories about the brilliant violinist who gets a “free ride” to an expensive private college, or we’ve heard talk at school about great offers coming in to top athletes. But those elite students are not collecting $ 16 billion! There are literally scholarships for every type of student – including many scholarships that are based solely on luck. But you must bother to find them and enter.
3. Financial Aid Packages May Create False Security
If your child has been accepted to college and received a financial aid package, congratulations! Be sure to read that package carefully. When you add up the figures, it may appear (especially to the student) that the total is covered. But that total probably includes a potentially hefty Federal Plus loan component. In the excitement of acceptance and the cleverly worded college letter describing this “excellent financing option,” it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you could be accepting a huge debt burden over a four-year period.
4. Kids Are Lazy!
OK, not all kids, especially not your kid, but … really? Particularly in the spring of the senior year, even the brightest and most motivated students are hesitant to add another to-do item to their list. They also probably know you are determined that they will go to college. Left to their own devices, many kids will thus sit back, relax, and enjoy spring fever.
5. It’s Not Rocket Science
Applying for scholarships can be a daunting task, but it can also be broken down into manageable pieces. You can take on many of them without overstepping ethical boundaries. Help with the search process – it can easily overwhelm students and, without guidance, cause them to give up. Create a system that suits your student’s personality to organize materials and information common to multiple applications.
Start early to encourage your student to keep a record of meaningful experiences and honors that could be used in writing scholarship essays. Easiest and also perhaps most importantly, help your student pay attention to and follow through on important details regarding packaging, logistics, and deadlines. You would be surprised to know how many applications never even make it into the “final stack” for consideration because students are sloppy, miss deadlines, or are simply unaware of tips and techniques that can determine their fate.
Though your life may also be stressful, taking a few simple steps could make a huge difference to your financial future and your child’s ability to pay for college. Scholarships are available year-round and are not limited to high school seniors, so start now and get your student on track to win some serious scholarship money.
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