You've made it into college, congratulations! The next step is to start thinking about how you'll pay for it. There are quite a few different options, so it's worth taking the time to research them all. Many people do just fine with student loans, but securing a scholarship can help to reduce the amount of money you need to borrow and decrease how much debt you leave your education with.
If you're looking for more information to help decide what type of scholarship is for you, the website elfi.com has a great pool of resources you can use for further reading and research.
- When to start looking for a scholarship
The earlier you start looking for a scholarship, the better. There are deadlines associated with the application process, and the more time you have to go through the process, the better. The last thing you want when applying for a scholarship is to miss out because you missed the deadline. If you do miss the application deadline, your chances of getting accepted are very low.
- What to look for when researching for a college scholarship
Scholarships can vary significantly depending on where you get them from. Most will have you meet a certain level of academic performance at least to ensure you're meeting the requirements of the course. You may also need to have a minimum level of performance if you're on a sports-related scholarship, or keep a particular religious affiliation.
The next thing to consider is how you're allowed to spend the funds. Some scholarships only allow you to spend the money on tuition fees, while others allow you to use the money for accommodation and living costs. This is crucial as you don't want to break any of the rules of your scholarship agreement.
Finally, you need to be aware of what may happen if you're not able to meet these requirements. You should spend some time researching if you can transfer your scholarship, for example, or if you'll need to pay a percentage back if you have any issues.
- Types of scholarship
There are two main types of scholarship – federal and private.
Federal scholarships are provided by the US Department of Education, and are one of the best places to start looking to see if you can apply to a government program. On the government website studentaid.ed.gov, you'll be able to see what scholarships you may be eligible for.
You can also try looking for academic scholarships or athletic scholarships. Academic scholarships are targeted at those with outstanding grades and can be very competitive. If you perform well in school, these are a clear choice. But then, even if your grades are average, there may be a scholarship you can apply for. Athletic scholarships are then aimed at those people that are good at a particular sport. Again, do your research as these can be attained for almost any sport.