How to Find Scholarships: Information that All Parents Need to Know

How to Find Scholarships:
Information that All Parents Need to Know

by : Stephanie Chung
posted on : 6/20/2014 9:34:16 AM


College comes with a big price tag these days– for top schools, tuition and board can top $60,000 per year, while state universities like ASU can still cost over $10,000 and upwards of $20,000 if your child is dorming. For parents of high school juniors and seniors, these rising prices can cause serious concern. Mitigating these costs means finding scholarships– which often can be much more difficult than the acceptance process.

Many scholarship applications can take hours to complete, usually for an extremely low chance of winning a grand prize of between $1,000 to $2,000. Rarely will online scholarships be over $5,000, and those will have thousands of applicants competing for the grand prize.

To complicate things further, many scholarships have a very specific type of applicant they are looking for. Some have racial, ethnic, or religious requirements, while others are based on need. Still others may be based on disabilities or giftedness. Finding a scholarship whose requirements you exactly meet can be a difficult, time consuming search.

For the high school senior, many times the situation seems hopeless. College, which once seemed like a perfectly reasonable, attainable dream, becomes marred by the reality of finances. Completing your FASFA early will earn you a better shot at scholarship and elusive grant money, but beware that your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) may seem unexpected and can easily be more than you can afford.

Hunting down scholarships can seem so impossible that many students simply give up and years later, these students will find themselves graduating college with thousands owed in student loans. The truth is, many students don’t even know how to find scholarship money.  As a parent, you can help by researching the different types of scholarships your student can apply for, and by assisting them with the tools they need to apply and get them.

The first type of scholarships are those offered by websites like Fastweb.com, Zinch, and Scholarships.com. These are low end scholarships usually worth $500 to $5,000.  If your child applies for these scholarships, they can expect to spend thirty minutes to five hours filling out each application and writing essays, for a very limited chance of winning a small amount of money.

Most high schools offer a different type of scholarship. If your child is in certain school clubs like Key Club or NHS (National Honor Society), there is a chance of receiving a scholarship from club participation. For NHS in particular, service hours are converted to points and the students with the most points are given scholarships. Schools also offer events where scholarships are offered, like STEM fairs and competitions.  MathRise® founder, Todd Crosner’s, eldest son Kyle was a STEM winner as was I.  Both Kyle and myself were awarded $4,000 scholarships ($500 per semester for 4 years).

Nearly every college and university also offers their own scholarships.  One I was offered from Wells College was their Henry Wells Scholarship, which actually covers $25,000 per year!  Many in state universities like Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University offer full tuition scholarships based on your high school GPA (Grade Point Average) in core subjects like Math and Language Arts.  Many other colleges offer internal scholarships and grants based on the information they receive from the your FASFA, your child’s application, and/or the department or field they want to pursue. Many of these scholarships can reduce tuition by half!

Scores from tests like the SAT and/or the ACT are extremely important: the most easily attainable scholarships are given to students with high test scores. One of the most recognized honors in the country is that of National Merit Scholar. There are several colleges that offer full ride scholarships to National Merit Scholars. At first, winning National Merit may not seem like much- maybe a small scholarship from a corporation. That was before I received a letter from the University of Texas at Dallas offering me a full ride if I applied, as well as offers of a full ride from several other high quality schools.

As a teacher at MathRise® Learning Centers in Litchfield Park, I know firsthand that one on one teaching can lead to incredible gains in learning. For example, Alice, a senior in high school, came to MathRise® not only for Algebra help, but also for test prep so she would increase her chances of scoring high on the SAT and ACT.  I sat down with her parents and looked at the available scholarships online for the college she wanted to attend.  While Alice had a great GPA, she still needed a very high test score to get awarded large scholarship opportunities. If her test scores were high, she could expect to receive a minimum of $10,000 annually. Her parents, looking at the cost of MathRise® Learning versus the potentially large gains to their pocket books, signed up immediately.

If your child will be entering their junior or senior year of high school and you would like us to help them with their education and even with their scholarship applications, please let us know. We can help by editing essays, helping with test anxiety, and of course, by increase their knowledge and their GPA!

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