Scholarships can be a huge help in paying for college. Here's a detailed guide on how to find and apply for them.
File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some scholarshipsespecially those offered through the schoolrequire that you file a FAFSA. You may need to file early in order for your student to be considered for some scholarships.
Help your student write a "resume´," recommends Jean Vander Wert, director of student financial planning at Central College in Pella, Iowa. Have your student list their school, church and extracurricular activities, plus any jobs they've held or travel they've done. Keep it simple so it can easily be adapted to fit other scholarship applications.
Take advantage of your student's high school resources, especially the wisdom of their guidance counselor. You and your student should make an appointment with your student's guidance counselor to discuss local scholarships and scholarship resources. Students should give their counselor as much information about themselves as possible. If your student has created a resume´, give a copy to the counselor. "Your student needs to become 'best friends' with their high school counselor, so that every time a new scholarship opportunity comes up, the counselor will think of your student's name," explains Wes Maggard, director of financial aid at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.
Apply selectively. "The student should consider whether they meet all the requirements listed. If not, the time spent on that scholarship application could be better spent applying for something more fitting to the student," Vander Wert says. "Students should apply for local scholarships and scholarships offered by a parent's employer before seeking more regional or national scholarships where there is more competition."
Research scholarships available through the college. "The best thing parents can do is make sure they are in touch with the financial planning offices at each of the institutions that their child is considering," says John Olsen, vice president for admission and student enrollment services at Central College. "The financial aid offices are the very best resources for students and their families to plug in federal, state and institutional dollars."
Inquire about matching scholarships. Some churches, employers, and professional or social organizations will match a specified amount given by the school. Ask your employer, home church and any organization you're involved in if they offer matching programs.
Keep a calendar of deadlines. "So many students miss scholarships because they miss deadlines," Maggard explains. "One thing parents can do is keep a 'gentle thumb' in the student's back to keep them moving forwardbe an encouragement."
Ask the college for other possible resources if it seems that your student is not getting the financial aid your family needs. Olsen recommends that both you and your student talk to a financial aid counselor at the school to see if there is anything else they can do to help you. The school may be able to offer a little extra aid from the college or a low-interest loan source.
Kristin is a recent graduate of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee.