This guest post was kindly written by Karen P.
As the mother of three teenage boys, all of whom will be in high school next year, college tuition is something that we are researching on a frequent basis. We want each of our children to determine what area of study most interests them, then we look at which colleges are the best fit for those majors, then look at the costs associated with tuition, books, room & board, and travel – if the college or university is a good distance away.
We have one child who currently is hard working towards National Merit Scholarship eligibility. Another child is a Varsity athlete excelling in his chosen sport, so he has hopes of earning sports scholarship dollars, and the third is a rising freshman who will also be a high school athlete.
Step one is to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This will let you know how much money in Federal Aid your student is eligible for. They may offer Grants that typically do not need to be repaid, or Federal Student Loans, or even work-study jobs they can hold while in school. Since Nick is a Disabled Navy Veteran, my boys will also hopefully qualify for additional Federal Aid as dependents of a Disabled Veteran.
Our next stop will be looking for State Specific information on grants, scholarships, work study, or loans they may qualify for as residents of Texas. We are fortunate to have an excellent Guidance Counselor at the high school, and she’s already identified some that they may be eligible for and sent over forms and websites for us to begin applying for.
Once we’ve narrowed down the list of schools that each child is interested in, we look at more specific scholarships and grants that may be available to them at each school. Our third stop is the University website for each school they are considering applying to.
Most schools have a financial aid page on their website, in addition to Financial Aid Counselors available to help prospective students. Once they’ve chosen a major, there may be additional grants, scholarships, or work study jobs that they qualify for.
Our fourth stop is local scholarships and grants. The high school guidance counselor has sent information on these, and we’ve been researching online too. Nick’s employer has some that they are eligible to apply for as an employee dependent, so we’re working on those currently.
Finally, we are looking at Nationwide Scholarships and Grants that are available through private organizations and entities under various criteria. There are many websites that offer search services, you’ll just want to be thorough in ensuring it’s a reputable service before entering any private information.
Some of these services allow you to narrow down the opportunities to those you are the best match for. Some may be specific to majors or minors, some are race specific – especially geared towards minorities, some are income specific, some are religion specific (I’ve seen more of these associated with attending religious specific Schools), some are sports affiliation specific and some are open to the general public, such as the Dr. Jan McBarron Scholarship.
Many corporations, organizations, and employers offer scholarships, but the students will need to put in the work and effort to locate and research these opportunities in an effort to reduce the amount of tuition they owe over the course of their college careers.
Good luck on your search and applications!