By this time of year, many seniors have already started their college application process or are in the process of looking at colleges. While many students are excited at the notion of going to their dream college, the process can be rather daunting.
On top of applicant pools being very competitive, the sticker price of many of these universities can be discouraging. UNLV’s total cost of attendance for in-state residents can be upwards of $20,000 per year, and private institutions such as Yale and Johns Hopkins cost nearly $65,000 per year.
With this cost in mind, many students lament that attending college is nearly impossible for their family. After all, the vast majority of families in the U.S. cannot afford such a significant recurring expense. Thankfully, there are multiple ways that families can alleviate this financial burden such as loans and scholarships.
Loans can be dangerous. Even though loans can help cover the immediate price to attend college, the decision to take out loans is a serious one that families must consider carefully. A loan is where an individual borrows money from a bank or another financial institution with the expectation that the money borrowed, along with interest, will be payed back in a timely manner. Through this system, the individual who took out the loan is regularly paying back installments of the loan, either monthly or annually.
Taking out loans is especially difficult for college students. Many students do not have a job or steady income right after college, and debt can quickly pile up.
Apply for scholarships
On the other hand, scholarships are a student’s best friend. Scholarships are gifts of money that a student can receive, taking into account your academic achievement, economic status, and a variety of other factors. There are scholarships for specific racial and ethnic groups, scholarships for individuals pursuing specific career paths like journalism or music, and even scholarships designated specifically to students of individual high schools! Scholarships are essentially “free money” because the individual who receives them is not expected to pay them back. This allows students to attend more expensive universities or to cover other college costs without being weighed down by financial insecurity. Scholarships are typically only require an applicant to list their basic information and write one to two essays. By investing a little bit of time now to scholarships, students can save themselves thousands of dollars further down the road. With this in mind, here a few scholarships to start with and websites that can help you find even more.
The Public Education Foundation
College Scholarships – US News & World Report
Raise Me Scholarships
Niche “No Essay” Scholarships
Here is a list of popular scholarships that give out particularly significant payouts:
Coca Cola Scholarship ($20,000)
Buick Achievers Scholarship (up to $25,000, renewable)
Bill Gates Scholarship
Horatio Alger Scholarship Award ($22,000)
Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship ($24,000, renewable)
The Dell Scholars Program ($20,000)
Elks Most Valuable Student Scholarship ($4,000 – $50,000)
There are always opportunities to make education affordable – embrace them, and give these scholarship competitions everything you’ve got. These are scholarships that consider your merit, and seek to give money to those who deserve it. If you show yourself off with strong essays and personal statements, you will have a strong chance of winning. With the extra cash from these scholarships by your side, the cost of attending college may just be bearable after all.