Why Your Student Should Still Search for Scholarships

Why Your Student Should Still Search for ScholarshipsWhile most parents realize that their high school juniors should definitely be on the lookout for scholarships, many do not know that they should still be advising their high school seniors – and even their college students – to keep looking for additional forms of “free” money. Although some scholarships are part of the college’s financial aid package, students also have the ability to search anywhere else they choose to find scholarships on their own.

This can be especially important if you compare financial aid award letters and find that your student’s preferred college is just slightly out of reach. A little extra money from a timely scholarship award can mean the difference between a first and second level choice college. Many scholarships do have application deadlines in December, which is important for high school juniors to keep in mind. But others have deadlines that are much later, which can help high school seniors on the last leg of their college journey. Even those students already in college should keep an eye out for possible scholarship opportunities that can help cover the cost of books or other expenses as they attend their classes.

Parents and students should keep an eye out locally for scholarship opportunities, as well as perform regular searches online. It may be surprising to find out that scholarships of all types are available – from gamers to lovers of history, and artists to intellectuals. If your child has a special strength or interest, look for associations or clubs that follow that passion, and scour their websites to see if they offer a scholarship. Look at scholarship sites online or subscribe to a newsletter service like Financial Aid Finder, which provides regular updates on all manner of scholarship opportunities. If you’re not convinced yet, here are a few more good reasons why your student should still search for scholarships:

• It keeps your student thinking about money: With everything else they have on their plates, it can be surprisingly easy for students to forget the financial end of attending college. Once they file the FAFSA, or get their financial aid award letters, they think the money part of the process is complete. But, just like in real life, money should be a part of the everyday thought process. Students should always be concerned about how they are going to pay for college, and looking for ways to “earn” extra money should be a top concern.

• It covers the incidental costs: Sometimes scholarships don’t seem like a lot of money, but it can really be a lot to a student who is trying to get along on a budget every month. They might allow the student to purchase a few extra educational materials, enjoy a campus activity, or work a few less hours in order to study. It’s always great to have “spare” money on hand.

• It means you have to borrow less: Every penny you get in grants, scholarships or income from work is one less penny you have to borrow through student loans. One of the greatest factors contributing to the current student loan crisis is that student loans are used for everyday expenses, and not just educational costs. No real thought is given to the interest that is accruing, or to the student’s future ability to repay those loans. After graduation, a cruel reality begins to set in when students realize they are not earning enough money to live on their own and repay their loans.

• It reinforces a goal-oriented mindset: Learning to set goals and following a schedule to achieve them are two powerful life skills. Students who know that they need to complete certain tasks within a specified timeframe are building life skills while they are also filling their heads with academic knowledge.

A scholarship can be a welcome addition to the “paying for college” pot, but it shouldn’t be something that is left to chance. With an intentional approach to seeking out and applying to scholarships at all levels of their school career, students can often find sufficient funds to help support their academic aspirations.