Funding for Your Education: Scholarship Opportunities
There are many ways to save for higher education, no matter where you are in your educational journey. Whether you are parents thinking about your child’s future or a college student, it’s never too early or too late to plan for the best higher education experience financially.
Mindfully saving your dollars using investments like a 529 savings plan or a Money Market Account are great places to start. But have you considered scholarships? More than 1.7 million private scholarships valuing over $7.4 billion are awarded each year.1 So why not take advantage of them? Our financial experts at Waldo State Bank suggest that investing time and energy in applying to scholarships may lower the amount of money you need to borrow.
Scholarships of all shapes and sizes have deadlines throughout the year. The earlier you can consider applying for scholarships, the more time you can gather the necessary items you need for the application. Also, scholarships aren’t just for high schoolers. There are scholarships readily available for college students throughout their tenure.
Scholarships provide unique financial opportunities.
The cost of education becomes more and more expensive every year. Scholarships help make the burden of funding higher education a bit lighter. Whether in high school or college, scholarships provide different financial opportunities that award academic accomplishments and talents.
On average, scholarships award between $1,000 to $5,000.2 Now imagine if you applied to five scholarships at $1,000 each. By taking the time to apply for those scholarships, you're increasing the likelihood of gaining $5,000 extra dollars to help fund school. Scholarships are available all year round, so there are many opportunities to increase your chances of being rewarded free money.
Scholarships help students have more time to focus on their studies.
Working while in school has its positives; it's been tied to increased social engagement outside of academics, better time management practices, and better grades. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that students who work longer than 20 hours per week fall victim to declining academic performance. Students from low-income households tend to feel the most significant pressure when working to fund their educational dreams. This has also been tied to higher dropout rates and suffering grades.
Scholarships can alleviate some of the students' financial burdens in the workforce and help fill any financial gap. It provides a good balance for students to work, go to school, and still acquire personal financial help.3
Common types of scholarships to consider:
Academic or Merit Scholarships4
Academic and merit-based scholarships are the most common type of scholarships available for students. These scholarships are awarded to students who display a high degree of academic performance during their time in school. Academic or merit-based scholarships consider grade point average (GPA), class ranking, scores on standardized tests (i.e., SAT).
Community Service Scholarships5
Students involved in volunteering and community service may qualify for community service scholarships provided by various organizations, service groups, and even companies. Nursing homes, hospitals, veterans groups, churches, religious groups, and many more offer scholarships to help fund higher education to students who have served their community.6
As stated before, academic performance declines when students work more than 20 hours a week. However, you can turn that part-time job into full-time savings on tuition! It may come as a surprise that some companies offer scholarships for higher education to their employees. Scholarships can help alleviate some of the burdens of working to fund education, so why not ask your employer if they have scholarship opportunities?
Scholarships.com helps students determine which employer-based scholarships are available if their parents work within the public sector. Students with parents who are EMTs, firefighters, or even federal employees may qualify.
There are 1.3 million active-duty service members who are choosing to serve our country.9 These brave men and women who choose to enter the military are not exempt from receiving higher education. There are several scholarship opportunities for current members of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy, veterans, and their families.
This unique scholarship opportunity is determined by filling out the Federal Student aid (FAFSA) application. Need-based scholarships provide funds for students who come from low-income backgrounds and may qualify based on household income. Even though this scholarship considers income, many organizations providing need-based scholarships still require students to demonstrate academic or talent achievements.
What Are the Steps to Applying for a Scholarship?
One of the easiest ways to find out about scholarship opportunities is to simply ask. Ask a parent, ask a school counselor, or ask your boss. Parents may work for employers who offer academic scholarships. School Counselors can help with identifying the best scholarships available through your current school. Your boss may even provide scholarship opportunities.
Research specific scholarships that focus on your talents. Whether it's academics or acting, there are so many scholarships tailored for different students. Also, remember that scholarships aren't strictly for high school students. College students could benefit from scholarships. There are many scholarship opportunities that college students can apply to that can be tailored to financing their educational needs.
Our financial experts at Waldo State Bank recommend reviewing all eligibility requirements and specific criteria before submitting any scholarship applications. Also, review deadlines and the window of time to apply. You'll find that not all scholarships require essays, but they may need other items before reviewing the application.
This may be the easiest step but could be the most nerve-wracking. To ensure you’re not missing important sections on your application, ask for help! It doesn’t hurt to have a second set of eyes look through your application.
Applying to scholarships does take time but once you've submitted your best application, feel good that you've taken a step towards funding your educational future.
Our team at Waldo State Bank is here to help you save for the most successful higher education experience. Contact us today to learn how you can use our services to help fund your future.