The amount of money offered each year in scholarships is staggering. More than three billion dollars is awarded on a yearly basis to students who qualify, and those qualifications can be very broad. Scholarships based on academic standards, athletic ability, and outstanding talent can ease the expense of a college education. Many parents and their children, however, don't know how to find a list of current scholarships. Consider the following points:
- Scams Unfortunately, many families become caught up in financial aid and/or scholarship scams. In many instances, the so-called scholarship fund will ask for an application fee or money up-front. Families should avoid these organizations at all cost. If any scholarships are actually offered by these companies, they are few and far between. Many of these organizations try to guarantee a scholarship, and this simply isn't possible. Some want families to provide personal information, including bank account numbers and/or the student's social security number. Again, these offers should be avoided.
- Scholarship Search Services Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous scholarship search services as well. These services typically make a lot of empty promises at the expense of a family's pocketbook. Don't pay for something that you can get for free! There really isn't any reason to hire someone to search for you. By using the search criteria that is offered by these free Internet services, you can plug in the same material that you would give to someone else. The results will be e-mailed to you, or you may view some results immediately.
- Internet Scholarship Search Services Legitimate scholarship services are available, and they are free to the public. The biggest mistake that families make is not searching for scholarships simply because the task seems too monumental to handle. Money is available for many students, but that money won't find you. You have to spend quite a bit of time searching and applying before you see any results. Check out reputable services, such as FastWeb and CollegeNet, for a list of scholarships (worth over $2 billion). These websites allow users to compare college profiles from across the country. They also allow users to search for scholarships on local and national levels.
- Guidance Counselors Parents should schedule meetings with their child's school guidance counselor. This can be done as early as your child's sophomore year in high school. Developing a good relationship with the counselor will help to ensure that your child receives the best guidance possible as she prepares for her academic career after graduation. Guidance counselors should keep up-to-date lists of any scholarships that are available. A guidance counselor can help your child fill out scholarship applications, steer your child toward important scholarship opportunities, and search for other scholarship opportunities based on your child's individual strengths. Check with the guidance counselor often for updates on new scholarship information.
- University and College Help For firsthand information regarding scholarships that are offered by various schools, be sure and contact the college or university's financial aid department. Their staff can answer any questions you might have, and they should be able to give you additional information on the scholarships that are available.