OK, you don't have a 4.0 GPA, you're not the senior class president, you can't throw a football fifty yards, and your SAT scores aren't generating letters or phone calls from Harvard, Yale or Princeton. So, you'll never qualify for a college scholarship, right?
Wrong! There are lots of scholarships, and other kinds of financial aid for which you might qualify. Some colleges will offer you academic grants with a GPA of 3.0 and SAT scores of 1000. Ashland University offers scholarships to twins. Many church affiliated colleges offer grants to students who are members of their religious denomination... and that's just the beginning. If you are the son or daughter of a military veteran, if either of your parents work for a major corporation, if your mother or father is a member of a fraternal or civic organization, or if you are preparing for a career in a particular profession, there may be substantial scholarships for which you can apply, even if you're not a top student or student leader.
Are you good at writing essays? If you are, your writing skills can be the ticket to a scholarship. There is even a scholarship for students who agree to abstain from using tobacco and alcohol while in college.
You may even be able to apply for a scholarship because of where you live, your last name, your ethnic heritage or race, or a disease or handicapping condition you may have. Get the idea yet? There are all kinds of scholarships, grants, and financial aid programs out there. Some require economic need or have other restrictions, others do not.
You can also search through hundreds of thousands of possible scholarships (free!) in nine different data bases at College-Scholarships.com
. While you're there, you can sign up for a free email newsletter with articles on -- and subscribers' questions on -- college admissions, scholarship and financial aid programs, college survival tips,
and income opportunities for college students.
Here's another great resource: Financial Aid Resource Center
. The author of the page is a college financial aid director who also publishes a free e-mail newsletter and is available to answer questions. Don't forget your school counselor, as he or she can be a great source of information about local scholarship sources.
You should also be aware that although they don't always like to acknowledge it publicly, many private colleges offer grants to be competitive with lower cost public institutions, and these grants are often offered to students with very little or no demonstrated financial need. In fact, private colleges frequently "rebate" 30%-35% (or more) of their tuition revenue in the form of institutional financial aid. When these "rebates" are factored in, some private colleges are ultimately no more expensive (or less expensive) to attend than public colleges and universities with lower published fees.
Here are a few final tips. First, take the most challenging classes available to you, work hard, and get involved in co-curricular, community, charitable and/or public service activities; the more you have to offer the more you're likely to be offered. Second, research, research, research. The more time you spend investigating scholarship opportunities, the more likely you are to find scholarships for which you may be eligible.
Don't let anyone discourage you. There are lots of people "out there," including some educators, who are inadvertently spreading misconceptions about who may qualify for financial aid and what is required to do so. And, most important of all, do not fail to investigate or apply to a college you like because you think it is too expensive . . . you never know what kinds of scholarships and/or financial aid you might receive. However, just like you should have "fall back" or "safety" colleges in case you are not admitted to your first choice institutions, you should choose and apply to colleges that will be affordable if you do not receive the financial assistance for which you hope.
Finally, pay attention to details and deadlines when applying for scholarships. "Typed" doesn't mean handwritten, "double spaced" means "double spaced" and deadlines are not suggestions. Good luck.