Applying for a Scholarship

For many, college is the next step after graduating high school

But some of you may be asking yourselves, “How do I get Financial Assistance?” According to College Board, the average yearly tuition at a four-year college for in-state students can be more than $8,000. For an out-of-state school, or a private college, these numbers can jump to as high as $30,000. That’s a lot of money – but don’t worry: there are numerous student loan opportunities available - with fees and interest that won't start until shortly after graduation. College scholarships and grants can lift the weight of higher education's finances. Some occupations let you defer your loans – or forgive them outright (like teaching.)

There's more good news - locating college scholarships isn't difficult. Free and reliable internet searches are easy to do and are extremely helpful, allowing you to narrow your search based on specific criteria such as demographics, gender or intended major.

Another option is to inquire about local scholarships through your high school. Many schools and tutoring centers publish long lists of state, regional and national scholarships to help students prepare for the cost of school. If you've already been accepted to a college and plan on attending, you may want to speak to an admissions counselor about specific school-related scholarships as well.

Not all scholarships are equal - some may cover the cost of tuition at a local community college for two to four years while others may simply put a few hundred (or $10,000) dollars in your pocket. Additionally, some scholarships for students may be won in an art show while other tuition assistance awards will ask you to compete in a national essay contest against thousands of other students. Finding the right scholarship for your needs is key, so be sure to apply to those that can meet your financial goals while playing to your personal strengths and abilities.

Many scholarships are need-based – created especially for unique situations, like individuals who have a number of siblings also attending college. There are also athletic scholarships, which range from full rides at some of the most prestigious universities in the country to basic financial assistance given in exchange for accepting a spot on a school's sports team – just be prepared to focus on your GPA and avoid trouble, lest you lose your scholarship.

Apply for the scholarships that suit you and your needs first, then go for the rest – you never know what amazing opportunities await you!