Pay for college… with someone else's money!

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No, really.  Pay for college with someone else’s money!

And no, robbing a bank is not how you do it.

We’re talking about legitimately, legally, honestly, and without any shady deals, paying for college.  With someone else’s money.

What if someone offered to sponsor your college education?  What if a distant relative just shows up next week with a check and said, “Here you go – pick a college!”  Or what if your cousin makes it big on YouTube and generously offers to fund your college education?

That would be awesome, right!

In real life that happens… very rarely.  Your chances aren’t great.

What does happen every year (and improves your chances dramatically) is this: hundreds of individuals, businesses, foundations, and organizations offer scholarships to deserving students.  They actually want to invest in the future and choose to do so by funding scholarships that help young people get a college education!  What?!

Sound too good to be true?

Maybe.  But, to quote Sherlock Holmes, “…when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”  (Yes, Spock said it too, but – fun fact – he was paraphrasing Sherlock!)

What’s even more shocking is this: many thousands (possibly millions) of dollars in private aid go unused each academic year simply because applicants do not pursue them.  Literally – the money is there, and no one takes it!

It is the student’s responsibility to find private scholarship opportunities and pursue them.  Institutions will likely not have all of this information on hand.  This is not because they don’t want you to know about them, but because the scholarships in existence change often and your personal interests play a role in which ones are available to you.

Of course, there are scholarships for generic things like a good GPA, but you would be surprised at the unique things that can qualify you for private scholarships.  These are only a few examples of what you can find in a five-minute web search:

These days, pretty much everything has been added to a list somewhere online.  The scholarships listed above and many others can be found at the following web locations: (there are more out there – Google is your friend!)

https://scholarships360.org/

https://www.unigo.com/scholarships/our-scholarships

https://www.scholarships.com/

https://www.collegexpress.com/scholarships/search

If you are in your sophomore year of high school, consider setting aside some time once a month to research scholarships that interest you.  This might sound incredibly overkill, but when you’re planning for deadlines that typically close well before the end of the academic school year you have to work ahead!

Many scholarships are available to you starting your junior year in high school.  If you already know the ones you wish to pursue, it’s a simple matter of looking up the application form and submitting the required items.

The closer you get to high school graduation the more effort you should put into your scholarship search.  If you are in your senior year already, or possibly already graduated, your options narrow some.  But there may still be some available to you!  Block out an hour or so once a week to really do some in-depth research and plan accordingly.  Here are three main things to remember as you move forward:

  • Follow directions. It is your responsibility to follow the directions given.  Don’t let inattention to detail cost you scholarship aid!
  • Don’t be late. It is your responsibility to submit requirements by the posted deadline.  If you follow all directions but fail turn it in on time, you eliminate your chances of winning the scholarship.
  • Develop strong writing skills. Many scholarships rely on essay submissions.  This means that upon submitting the application form, you will be asked to write an essay regarding a specific topic.

Interestingly, these three tips (Follow instructions/Don’t be late/Develop strong writing skills) are actually great practice for college itself.  In higher education, your attention to directions, timely submissions, and a general knowledge of proper writing guidelines play a huge role in your final grade.  Consider this your introduction to college academics!

One last tip: If you plan to jump straight into college after high school, go ahead and submit the FAFSA online at the beginning of your senior year – this one step can give you a clear picture of what your financial responsibilities will be during college. You can find the information here https://fafsa.ed.gov/

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