(This is a guest article by Mark Davies*)
One of the biggest misconceptions about scholarships is that most people assume that they’re available on to those who belong to low income families. Yes, there are more need-based scholarships than any other kind, but they’re not the only kind of financial assistance available to students for a post secondary education. So if your parents are in an income bracket that does not allow you to apply for a need-based scholarship, yet cannot pay your way through college for various reasons and don’t want to take out a student loan and incur debt on graduation, here are the options open to you:
- Look for academic or merit-based scholarships – most schools provide these if you have a GPA of 3.7 and above and if your high school academic records are excellent. You help your case if you have a complete portfolio of all your academic achievements, any community service projects you’ve participated in, and any other accomplishments in high school that you think is significant.
- If you belong to a minority or ethnic background, now is the time to make good use of it – many colleges provide scholarships for members of minority communities.
- Certain academic departments in colleges have scholarships that they disburse, so ask about these in the colleges you want to apply to.
- If you’re physically or mentally disabled, you qualify for many scholarships that are set up to help those who are at a disadvantage because of their disability.
- If you have lost a parent or other family member to cancer or any similar debilitating disease, you may qualify for certain scholarships that consider families who have used up a considerable portion of their savings and income towards medical expenses.
- If you’re thinking of signing up for the military (army, air force or navy), then consider an ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program where you can get federal aid for college before training to be officers in a branch of the military.
- Some schools offer scholarships for students who have lost a parent in the line of duty, as a cop, fireman or military personnel.
- Your parents’ employers may be offering scholarships for meritorious children of employees in the organization, so get mom and dad to ask some questions in the workplace.
- If you belong to a local community or church, ask about any scholarships or grants they provide for aspiring college students who actively volunteer and help out whenever needed.
- If you don’t qualify for scholarships in your freshman year, you can always apply again in your sophomore, junior and even senior years. So don’t give up just because you lost out the first time, just keep looking for alternatives open to upperclassmen.
So don’t despair if your parents haven’t saved up for your college expenses, if your 529 savings amount is not enough to cover the cost of four years of college, or if a bad financial year has left your parents unable to pay your tuition and living costs in college. Start looking around for academic and other scholarships well before you must apply to college, and reap the rewards of your effort and persistence.
Scholarships that are not need based are not advertised prominently; so if you want to apply for and qualify for these, you must talk to the admissions office and your department of study specifically to see what you can do.
*About the author: This guest post is contributed by Mark Davies, he writes on the topic of Online Masters Degree. He welcomes your comments at his email id: markdavies247<@>gmail<.>com.
*Image Credit: Photograph by haagenjerrys [via Flickr Creative Commons]