Now for most people it’s nearly impossible to entirely avoid student loans. If you want to get a degree from any higher university (unless you’re the valedictorian or the football star) you’re going to need to pay a lot of money and it’s more difficult to get scholarships for that higher amount. So what are you going to do? Well you’re probably going to end up with a subsidized or unsubsidized loan like we’ve talked about before. But that doesn’t mean you need to use loans for the entire amount. There are still ways to avoid them as much as possible.
There are a number of different types of scholarships that you can work towards or apply for and they will give you differing amounts of money for your education. When I say differing amounts I really mean it too because I got a scholarship for $500 and I’ve received a scholarship for $4,000. Other people have gotten scholarships for anywhere from $100 to tens of thousands of dollars or even a hundred thousand. It all depends on how much you’re looking and where you’re looking for these things. It also depends on the type of scholarship you’re going after.
If you have really good grades then there are a large number of scholarships out there for you. Academic style scholarships split you into categories based on which portion of your graduating class you are in. If you’re graduating Summa Cum Laude, or Magna Cum Laude then chances are you’re going to be able to get some type of help because of your grades. That means you don’t have to be the smartest kid in your school or even the top twenty. Just about any GPA level will qualify for some type of scholarship.
It’s important to note though that you need to start applying for scholarships much earlier than you think. You want to apply most times during your sophomore and junior years. This way the money will come through before you are a senior and trying to figure out what you should do after graduation without any money. Keep in mind that a lot of the scholarships will tell you exactly what grade you need to be in so that you can apply or so you can actually get the scholarship. You have to fit the qualifications.
Of course a very common way to get scholarships is sports. In this method you’re not generally going to have to write an essay letter or send in any additional information. You may be seen by someone within the sports programs at your selected school or you may have to call them to come watch you and then you could receive a partial scholarship. If you’re really good then you may even get a full scholarship to a specific school or your choice of schools. Remember this is going to be pretty rare and definitely limited.
Another way that you can get a scholarship is based on your interests. You’d be amazed how many different people have put together scholarships whose requirements say you have to love playing the bagpipes or you have to be an avid reader upside down. There are all sorts of weird scholarships out there and if you don’t check them out then your wacky talents may be wasted when they could be helping you win a scholarship. Even less wacky interests can be used in this manner like being in the band or even having red hair. Sometimes that really is all it takes to achieve a scholarship.
Yet another way that people get scholarships is through contests. If you’re skilled in certain activities then you can enter contests and win money for your college education. You can enter drawings that will provide you with winnings that go towards your college expenses. All of these are super easy and you should definitely check them out. Often all you have to do is fill out some basic information about yourself and you’re entered to win. Who doesn’t want to take the chance that it really is that easy to get money for your future?
Most scholarships are going to require you to fill out a rather long application about yourself. They will probably also require you to write some type of essay or letter. This may be an essay about you and why you deserve the scholarship. It may be a personal experience you’ve had related to the criteria. It may simply be a report that you’ve written during one of your classes in school. Whatever it is that they want from you definitely make sure it’s very well written. Remember there could potentially be thousands of others applying for that exact same scholarship.
For myself I was able to get a few academic scholarships. My $4,000 one was because I achieved some pretty great scores on the ACT. My $500 one was because I belonged to a career center through my high school and I wrote a pretty good essay. Unfortunately for me those were the only scholarships that I was able to receive. I spent a lot of time writing scholarship essays and researching the different ones that were out there but I couldn’t seem to actually win any of them. (Although I did get some free Slurpee coupons by apply for the 7-11 scholarship.)
Keep in mind that you may spend hours working on your scholarship essays and filling out applications and get nowhere. On the other hand you may spend only a few minutes and get everything you apply for. Just make sure that you’re checking all of the requirements before you get started. You don’t want to waste your time filling out applications or their time checking those applications if you aren’t even qualified to win the scholarship in the end anyway. Good luck on your scholarship endeavors and remember, if you do need to get a private loan, they are always going to be available.