It is nearly impossible for one to overstate the importance of scholarship money in the equation for paying for a post-secondary education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education, the average price of a college education has more than tripled over the past twenty years (based on current dollars). Students who paid $5,964 for their tuition, room and board in 1986-1987 might think twice about attending the same college in 2006-2007: The average price of a four-year college has risen to $18,445.
Even when one considers federal student financial aid, the costs of a college education are hard to swallow and an increasingly large number of students are dependent on scholarship money. Thankfully, plenty of it is available. Organizations across the nation are offering scholarship awards to students who hope to complete a college education.
Finding Scholarship Money
A student’s award letter — the summary of federal aid awarded to students based on information provided in their FAFSA — need not be the final say when it comes to financial aid for college. Rather than end their search at the government’s door, students should take initiative and search for scholarship money elsewhere. Corporate scholarships, nonprofit organizations, postsecondary institutions and individuals committed to a cause are all excellent sources in your quest to find money for college.
By conducting a free college scholarship search, students can find an abundance of information about scholarship money they may be eligible to receive based on attributes such as ethnicity, major, location, GPA, year in school, organizations of interest, etc. Even average students, whose reports cards and resumes don’t particularly shine, can find numerous awards for which they may qualify.
Students who can impress scholarship judges with their goals, colorful experiences or essay writing skills may be able to acquire a large sum of scholarship money. The more scholarship opportunities a student applies for, the greater the chance that someone will take notice. "Apply early and apply often" is a motto to remember.
In the wake of a credit crunch, few students want to risk borrowing large sums of money to pay for school. One never knows where the future will take them and whether the amount of money one earns will be enough to pay off college debt. Scholarship money is a great source of financial aid and it can save students from having to borrow for school — or at least to keep student loans at a minimum.
For those who need assistance with their scholarship applications, help is out there. Scholarships.com gives students a behind-the-scenes look at what scholarship judges are looking for. Students should take advantage of this scholarship information and keep it in mind when preparing required materials. It is also important to remember the following when preparing applications: Only apply for scholarships you are fully eligible for, follow directions to the letter, always submit your materials on time and revise, revise, revise. Then revise some more.