It’s no secret that education prices have skyrocketed in recent years. In just three decades, between 1988 and 2017, the cost of education increased:
- 213% for public universities (average cost, nearly $10,000 per year)
- 129% for private colleges (average cost of nearly $35,000 per year)
For middle and low-income families, the cost of tuition can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. But one of the best ways to lessen the financial burden of college is to receive a scholarship.
Yet, only around 7% of students who will enroll next year will actually receive a scholarship. That’s why it’s important to understand how to find, apply for, and get a scholarship.
This guide will help you understand the different types of scholarships, how to find them, and tips for applying.
Why is College Education so Expensive?
In 2021, more than 20 million students enrolled in college in the United States. Many people have to pay tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies — all costs that add up quickly! With these rising expenses, it can be difficult for many students to afford higher education.
But why does college cost so much nowadays?
Between 1998 and 2008, college enrollment in for-profit institutions grew by roughly 225%. In subsequent years, more and more institutions have shifted to the for-profit model due to a desire to make more money.
With more institutions offering degrees, many established schools across the US have had to compete harder for enrollments, spending, in some cases, 20% of their revenue on marketing to potential students.
The only way schools could recoup these costs was by increasing students’ tuition fees. That is one of many factors contributing to rising costs. Higher education institutions have also had increasing costs for buildings, staff, and technology upgrades.
Why a Scholarship is Your Best Option
While high prices have turned some students away from college, higher education still pays off in the long run. According to BLS statistics, people with bachelor’s degrees, on average, earn $525 more each week than those with a high school degree.
Now, picking a school to attend may be an emotional decision for many. Still, it’s important to remember that the impact of college on your life and finances goes far beyond the college experience.
For many families, scholarships are their best option for financing a college education. Scholarships provide students with money for tuition, fees, and other costs associated with higher education without having to take out loans or use family savings.
Everything You Need to Know About College Scholarships
So all of this brings us to our central question: how to prepare for a scholarship? If you still have a few years before college, use them to your advantage. Start by building an impressive resume with extracurricular activities and volunteer work that reflects your passions and interests.
Let’s assume you’re not aiming for an athletic scholarship. If that’s the case, you’ll want to focus on academic credentials and leadership skills. While you don’t necessarily have to have a 4.0 GPA or a perfect SAT score, you will want to challenge yourself and work hard.
If you have trouble focusing or need math homework help, try to find help early on to improve your grades. Websites like 24HourAnswers can provide you with the homework help you need to improve your grades. You should also start researching scholarships early.
How to Find Scholarships for which You’re Eligible
Of course, the Internet is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. Many scholarship websites help you quickly narrow down the scholarships for which you are eligible.
You can even visit our “scholarships” section and use the filters to find scholarships based on your interests and major. There are many scholarships available out there, including:
- Community service scholarships: Meant for students who are passionate about helping others and giving back to their communities.
- Underrepresented student scholarships: Aimed at helping minority groups and first-generation college students.
- Merit-based scholarships: Based on academic achievements and extracurricular activities.
What You Need to Apply for a Scholarship
Before moving on, we should mention that there are four main types of money options available to college applicants:
- Federal grants (which are responsible for 47% of the total aid given)
- Scholarships from schools (responsible for 35%)
- Private scholarships (which are responsible for around 10%)
- State grants (which account for 8%)
What you need to understand is that each one of these has its unique requirements.
For example, federal grants may require you to fill out the FAFSA form, while scholarships from a college may require you to submit an essay and other materials.
For private scholarships, requirements vary greatly depending on the organization offering them. It’s important to read the eligibility requirements carefully and ensure you meet them.
How to Increase Your Chances of Landing a Scholarship
Once you know what scholarships you are eligible for, it’s time to gather the materials you’ll need to apply. Start by creating a master list of all the scholarships you plan on applying for, along with their deadlines and other requirements.
Organize your materials in a way that makes it easier to apply – make sure you have all the documents you need, such as transcripts and letters of recommendation.
Finally, hone your writing skills. The four most important factors in college admissions are grades, curriculum strength, standardized test scores, and essays. The last item on the list can make or break your application.
To ace the essay portion of your application, you should practice writing about different topics and review sample essays for inspiration.
Start Working Towards Your Scholarship Now
If you’re serious about getting a college scholarship, it’s never too early to start working toward it. Make sure your grades are the best you can achieve, create an impressive resume, research scholarships you’re eligible for, and hone your writing skills.
While the application process can be daunting, remember it’s worth the effort. With enough preparation and hard work, you’ll be well on your way to getting the scholarship that will help you pursue your dreams.
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