College tuition costs have increased more than 100% at public schools and more than 60% at private schools over the last 20 years, outpacing both inflation and family income. That means finding a college scholarship to help offset costs is more important now than ever before.
Scholarships and grants can help cover part–if not all–of your college tuition. This is great news for students who want to avoid graduating with massive amounts of debt. If you’re lost on how to find or receive a scholarship or grant, here’s where to start:
- Ask your guidance counselors and teachers: High school guidance counselors, teachers and college professors are often well-informed on new and existing scholarship opportunities. See if any of these resources could help you find an appropriate scholarship or grant based on your grades, background, field of study and interests.
- Search online for scholarships: Many scholarship opportunities are posted online for students. Search for aid through state and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, or for private opportunities through other online scholarship search engines. However, beware of scammers looking for your private information.
- Look for opportunities on college boards: If you’re already in college (or even before you enroll), look for scholarships through your specific school via its website or guidance counselors. Some of these are specific to your grade level and interests, and may require additional work (such as an internship).
- Leverage your background: Aid is often given to students with unique circumstances, such as ethnic minorities, students from low-income families, military family members, and those who return to school later in life. Philanthropic organizations (like churches and nonprofits) also offer scholarships to local students in whom they may have a special interest.
- Organize your applications: Don’t apply for a scholarship and assume you’ll receive it–apply to many different opportunities, and follow the suggested application process. Many scholarships have hard deadlines and multiple requirements, so have your information handy and keep track of where each application is in the pipeline.
- Research and write entrance essays: Spend time crafting a well-researched and personal entrance essay. Make sure to have a trusted friend review your essay for grammar and content (regardless of how good you think it may be). Then, tailor that essay to each scholarship or grant based on its background and length requirements. A powerfully written essay can go a long way toward gaining a scholarship.
Some scholarships can even help cover room and board. Your student housing provider is here to help you find a great place to apply your savings!