Admit it: Researching colleges and navigating through college applications can be daunting, but for most families, discussing and completing the financial aid process is overwhelming. The question of scholarship is even more confusing. There are a multitude of books, websites and commercials claiming promises of unclaimed scholarship money. With all the information, how does a family begin the scholarship search? Crisp Consulting + Coaching would like to offer a few strategies for families engaging in the scholarship search.
Count on Reality. Everyone has financial fantasies about an all-encompassing scholarship. Yet, these are often very difficult to achieve. Substantial scholarships by Coca-Cola Foundation or Prudential receive over 100,000 applicants. As you can imagine, this makes for a challenging competition. Realistically, searching for local and regional scholarship opportunities are less fortuitous. Investigate civic groups, organizations, churches, local businesses and parents’ employers for scholarship offerings.
Count on Renewing. Search for renewable scholarships. A one-time gift of $1000.00 is nice but a $600 renewable scholarship is better. It may not sound like much at first, but over four years it totals $2,400. This can help lower the amount of loan debt in a college financial aid packet.
Count on Working. Scholarship applications and interviews require hard work. Applicants should not only work toward a stellar high school career, they should invest in the scholarship process. First, read and make note of all eligibility requirements and deadlines. Make sure your application profiles you as someone deserving of the scholarship. Have someone proof read your essays and role play interviews. Importantly, individualize your application. This is more advantageous than submitting numerous identical applications.
Count on Research. It is critical to verify that you are a realistic candidate. Research the purpose of the scholarship, research who has received it in the past and research the eligibility criteria. Always be honest about how likely your chances are of winning the scholarship. Start the research with the following websites:
These strategies for scholarship will help you in financially preparing for college. As always, it is better to start earlier than later. Sophomores and juniors should begin the investigation now. Contact your guidance office and check your local high school website. If your high school does not publish a list of scholarship opportunities, check with other public and private schools in your area.
Brian D. Crisp is an independent educational consultant with Crisp Consulting + Coaching who works with families in Asheville, Charleston, Raleigh-Durham and Savannah to optimize and realize their unique educational fit and admission success. As a former professor, administrator, and teacher, Brian has the knowledge and skills to counsel families in all aspects of educational planning.