Some college students may be hesitant to apply for a volunteer position because of the costs associated with that endeavor. Some positions may require out-of-pocket expenses, perhaps through suggested donations or transportation costs. More often, an unpaid position will require a significant time commitment from the student. Many students, especially college freshmen, already have a difficult time figuring out how to manage their time and fit in all of the activities they’re interested in, all while keeping up with their academics. A volunteer position may then make it difficult to hold down a paying part-time job elsewhere that may be helping that student cover college costs. We’ve come up with some ideas below that may make the decision about whether to volunteer or not a little easier. No matter what you decide, know that there are ways to keep that decision from becoming a decision based on finances.
Depending on the kind of volunteer position you pursue, the amount of time you dedicate to the experience, or the college you’re at, your school could be a good source for finding funding for volunteerism. Many schools look at students’ community service records when considering whether to offer applicants admittance to their colleges, and some will take a student’s continuing interest in public service or volunteerism when awarding financial aid. Some schools may even have funds set up for students with a desire to participate in volunteerism while on campus, or for those interest in fields of study related to public service.
Colleges that require some amount of community service as part of their service-based learning curriculum will be particularly open to helping you find funding to help cover the costs – or the loss of profit you personally lose by dedicating time you could be working at a paying job to volunteerism – of an unpaid position. These colleges will most likely have a department set up that handles queries like this, so contact your school’s volunteer or service-learning office to learn more about how your school can help you make ends meet while you’re volunteering.
If you’re a go-getter interested in leading a community service project or lending a hand to an existing project that is in need of funding to continue operating, that project could be eligible for grant funding. Depending on the location and type of project, you could apply for community improvement funding from governments on the local, state, and federal level. Many volunteer programs exist because of volunteers like you, and operate thanks to funding coming from sources outside of those organizations. Do a little research, and you could find a wealth of funding opportunities out there for projects that aim to improve communities or the lives of people in need of such services.
If you’re looking to help cover some the costs, whether direct or indirect, of volunteering your time, scholarships and grants are an excellent source of funding for those interested in public service and volunteerism. Community service is listed as a criterion for awards by a large number of scholarship administrators and providers. Many of these awards won’t ask applicants for a list of their academic achievements, including GPA and standardized test scores, focusing instead on their efforts to improve their communities. If you’d like to see some examples of scholarships for volunteerism, check out the list we came up with under community service scholarships. For more of these, and awards based on other criteria, conduct a free scholarship search, because there’s no reason your selflessness shouldn’t be rewarded.
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