The Road to Scholarships

tips and hints for junior high & high school students planning to use scholarship monies to pay for their continuing education

Cost of a College Education

How much money will you actually need to attend college? The truth is, it varies. Much of it depends on which college you chose, it’s location, your location, and the type of education you need.

Often students and parents think the high dollar educations are the price of the Ivy schools. Schools like Harvard, and Yale. To be fair, those are expensive colleges to attend. A quick look at the tuition  page on the Harvard website shows the cost of $32,896 for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Since Harvard is located in Massachusetts, let’s look at the pricing of a couple of other colleges in that state.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts,   a four year college lists their 2008-2009 tuition/fees  yearly cost here, at, $15,350 for out of state students, residents of Massachusetts can expect to pay at least $6000 for tuition.

North Shore Community college has their costs listed on this page. They charged  Massachusetts residents $125  and  non-residents $357 for each credit  hour taken in 2008-2009. This totals about $3800 for a resident and $11,000 for a non resident.

You can see the basic  cost of a college education can vary from $4000 a year to over $30,000. How much your education will cost will be determined by you. Where do you want to attend college? How long will your education take? You need to be thinking on these things.

To get an idea of the cost of colleges in  your state, or colleges  you have in interest in attending this site by the University of Texas has links for most colleges in the United States. They have another site here, listing links for community colleges.

Remember basic cost is only the tuition and some fees. There are often other fees required. Don’t forget, you’ll need books, generally you can figure 40 per credit hour for books. This is $600 for 15 credit hours.  This is an average and a fairly good rule of thumb to use for estimating your costs.

In addition to your books, you will living somewhere. That will cost money. Most colleges require incoming out-of-town freshmen to live on campus. This is to your advantage. Each college will have a figure for the cost of a room. If  you live within commuting distance and choose to live at home, remember you’ll still need to pay for the additional vehicle expenses.

You will also need to eat. The cost for this will depend on you, and your situation. Living at home, your parents will probably underwrite the cost of your meals. If you live on campus the college will have meal plans for you. There’s also extra money for snacks, and when you don’t eat the college food, and the need for other miscellaneous items.

You can see the cost of a college education has a wide range, and it’s all in the high range. Determining what college is best for you will be another post. For now, I just wanted you to understand your higher education which will be well worth the money spent, is going to have a steep price tag.

March 4, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , , , | 2 Comments

Stocking up Scholarships

A few days ago someone left this message:

Hi,
I was wondering if you knew of any scholarships for people who’ve run away from home. I’ve followed the steps that the university had to gain independent status but that was denied and now, I cannot apply for the FAFSA or any need-based scholarships.
I cannot provide people with my parents’ information because they are no longer in my life. I finally left that abusive home and I’ll drop outof college if I have out, but I will not go back to that environment.
Any information helps!
Thank you

Now I have no idea if this is a real person, or a real situation, but I know it could be. Here’s the thing, I mostly help younger students prepare for college and scholarships and I have no idea what all is available for that person.

I do know, he/she must first be emacipated from the parents. As I understand it that is a legal move and I know nothing about the law. However, there are lawyers that will help people pro-bono, or without pay. The commenter needs to speak to a lawyer and/or college financial aid advisor who can expand on the options available.

Now, for the rest of my readers. The reason I’m answering that comment, or attempting to answer it, is to point out that life situations change.

Mom and/or Dad may be making enough money now to safely see you through college, they may even have enough saved to pay for your college education. Except, no one can see into the future. What if something happens to Mom and/or Dad’s job?

Suddenly the family is living on have or less income and have to make some cuts. Guess what, college is going to be on the chopping block. They may not eliminate paying for part of your college expenses, but they won’t be able to cover all of them.

Or, a family may undergo a crisis that leads to them dipping into the college fund to pay current everyday bills. Now, I’m not talking about the student’s account where they’ve been stashing their scholarship/contest earnings.  That’s a whole different scenario that I’m not going to get into. However, I do know, most parents won’t touch that money. Of course, the student would need to have such an account for that to even be an issue.

Which means, they (you) have been applying for, and receiving scholarships. With the money already in hand, and with the money you will continue to receive from your efforts,  you will be able to finish your college education. And, as a bonus once you graduate you’ll be able to help your parents out of their crisis.

I hope the original poster (if he/she is real) finds a way to pay for the college education. I hope his/her story encourages the rest of you to begin the scholarship search and application process now. The sooner you start, the more opportunities you will have.  You can apply for the early scholarships now, and the others as they become available.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , , , | Leave a comment

Music Scholarship Opportunities

Are you a music fanatic? Do write your own music? Play an instrument? The BMI foundation offers several scholarship opportunities you may qualify to receive. However, you will need to check each of them out, here.

All of the scholarships offered are for college students, or those entering college next year. Each scholarship has a different deadline and requirement, so it will take you a few minutes to check each of them out. This scholarship may be too late for most seniors; they won’t have time to fulfill all of the scholarship requirements.

However, younger students can put this opportunity on their list and begin making preparations to apply when the time is right.

Among the scholarship opportunities offered by the BMI Foundation are: Peermusic Latin Scholarship, John Lennon Scholarships,BMI Student Composer Awards,and the Women’s Music Commission.

In addition, there are several scholarship opportunities for students living in specified areas, or attending specific schools. For more information on the scholarships offered, and their requirements, check out the BMI website.

February 10, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , | Leave a comment

Essay Scholarship Doing Double Duty

It’s not every day a class assignment can be converted into cash for  your college education.

The people at College Prowler offer a monthly scholarship award for the best essay.  This offer is an especially nice one, for a couple of reasons.

First, it is based solely on the essay, not need, not grades, not recommendations, just the essay they receive.

Second, the essay can be recycled. They don’t care if it was an assignment. In fact, they encourage it.

There are a few rules, which can be found here.

While there are twelve essays selected during the year, one a month, student’s may only submit one essay a year. Although, if  you don’t receive a scholarship from them this year , you are eligible to enter next year. Just not next month.

Check the essays you’ve written this year. How good do you think they are? Do you have one you think would have a chance? Double check to see it meets the qualifications and enter.   Sarah Wright, the March 2008 winner says, “apply for all of the scholarships you come across and are eligible for through websites like College Prowler, because someone has to win those scholarships.”

If you haven’t written an essay you think will win, and you know you will be writing more essays this year, you can wait. However, if you’re a senior,  you need to consider entering as soon as possible, this scholarship offer is only for high school students. Once you  graduate you will longer be eligible.

The next deadline is Feb. 28, 2009.  Other deadlines are available at the website, here.  Go, polish those essays, and good luck.

February 6, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , , | Leave a comment

$5000 Scholarship Deadline Approaching

Scholarship opportunities posted here are generally available to younger students as well as those heading for college next year.

However, I do often post “senior only” scholarships. This serves two purposes, the younger students can make note of any scholarships and, the requirements, to assist them as they travel along on their road to a free college education. Also, I know I have some seniors reading this blog, and they can use all the help they can find. After all, they need the money now.

This time of year it becomes more difficult to find scholarships for younger students. Again, because the seniors are needing the money ASAP, that is where foundations and organizations often focus their educational concerns.

That said, this week’s scholarship, offered by First Command Educational Foundation,  is a ‘senior-only’ opportunity. It does require a 3.0 gpa, complete an essay answering their questions, provide two letters of recommendations, one must be from a current teacher.

Additionally, they will only review the first 150 applicants they receive. Which will help the younger students, they can be gathering the information they need early and apply as soon as possible.  The applications are available  until February 25. Which means seniors need to hurry. Younger students, add this to  your list.

For all the information go to their website.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , , , | 1 Comment

Unusual Scholarships

Every time I speak about scholarships someone asks about a specific scholarship. Either it’s a student asking about a scholarship they’re sure isn’t available or a parent asking about an unique scholarship they’ve heard exists. Sometimes these scholarships exist, often they don’t, or they are extremely restricted.

For example, one mother asked me about the scholarship for red headed left handed students.  There’s no such thing, at least I haven’t found it. I haven’t even found a scholarship specifically for students with red hair. However, since many red heads are of Irish decent, they may be eligible for a “Irish Scholarship” such as this one, sponsored by the Irish American Society of County Will.  Of course to qualify for this one students must live in Manhattan.

As for a scholarship for southpaws, yes there is one. However, the left-handed student must be enrolled in Juniata College in Huntington, PA. Now, if you plan to attend Juniata College, and are left-handed, this is a good scholarship for you to add to your list. However, for the rest of you lefties, sorry you don’t qualify for a scholarship based on which hand you write with.
Students, may often ask about unusual scholarships for their own reasons. For example, earlier this month when talking to students living in a large town they asked about skateboarding scholarships.  Yes, as a matter of fact there is a scholarship for skateboarders, sponsored by the Patrick Kerr Foundation Skateboard Scholarship Fun.

You can see knowing about the unusual scholarships can be beneficial to you, IF you qualify. However, there aren’t enough of them to limit your scholarship searches to those unique scholarship opportunities. Just keep your eyes open for them as you compile your scholarships for the future. Apply for the unusual ones as well as the more common.

Some of the more unusual scholarships, with links or web addresses  can be found here.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , , | Leave a comment

Links to Scholarship Information

Today I’m going to give you some sites to check out that will be helpful in helping you reach your goals of attending college using scholarship money.

First, you need to narrow your college choices down to three or four.There is much to consider when selecting a college, and you’ll want to talk your choices over with your parents and/or an educator.   You can take virtual campus tours online by checking out the college’s website.The easiest way to locate the websites of any college is by checking out the list of four-year colleges and universities put together by the University of Texas at Austin, here. They also have a comprehensive list of community colleges, with links to their websites here.

A list of scholarship search sites, places where you can register for scholarships searches can be found here.  Once registered you will be notified of available scholarships you may qualify to receive. One of the scholarship searches, FastWeb, which is widely popular is found here,

If those links don’t work, you can try pasting these web address in your search bar.

Colleges and Universities in the United States, with links to their websites, listed by state:                                                    http://www.utexas.edu/world/univ/state/

Community colleges in the United States, with links to their websites:  http://www.utexas.edu/world/comcol/state/

List of scholarship search sites:                                            http://www.college-scholarships.com/free_scholarship_searches.htm

FastWeb, one popular search site:         http://www.fastweb.com/

January 23, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , | Leave a comment

Evaluate your Scholarship Grades

Now that a new year has begun and a new semester, it’s time for students to evaluate where you are in your educational goals, where you want to be, and what you need to do to get there.

One of the most important scholarship determining factors is your grades.  Scholarship committees look for students who can do the college work. They use your high school grades to help them determine your chances of college success.

Those of you in 11th or 12th grade will have a tougher time getting your act together, but it can be done so don’t quit.  Check your gpa (grade point average) if it’s below par you need to work double hard to raise your grades. A higher grade will raise the gpa. You may have to eliminate some extra activities; spending time with friends, sending emails and text messages, watching television. But, your future is at stake here, it’s important.

One former student told me about a time when algebra was tough for him, and he slacked off. Realizing his grades were dropping, he started spending an hour a day in his room working on algebra, no television, no radio, no ipod, no telephone, just  him, the algebra book, a pencil and paper. After a couple of weeks he’d mastered the algebra and was able to keep his grades up and enjoy other activities.

If your gpa is a 3.00 or lower, spend some time with your books studying, bring that gpa up. Even twelfth grade students can bring their gpa up with a little work and determination.Whether you’re in ninth grade or twelfth grade, now is the time to assess where you stand with your grades. If they are low, take action to raise them.

Remember, the lower your grades, the more difficult it will be for you to obtain, even qualify , scholarships. Take action now.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scholarships Your Responsibility

Remember, this blog is all about helping you, the student prepare for, find, and receive college scholarship money. This is about your future, which means, you must find a way to get where you want to go. Doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help, but it’s your job.

Denise Witmer at her Parenting Teens blog,   has several good articles about college and college prep, including questions to be asked.While I agree with the questions, I disagree with who should be asking them and when.

Most of these questions can  be answered over the course of a year, assuming you start early in your high school, or preferably middle school years. Answers to these, and many other questions, are often provided group meetings, and handouts. You can also do a little research to discovery the answers on your own.

For example one question: What local scholarships are available, what are their deadlines? You can discover this on your own, and you need to have this information in your files.

Most high schools announce the scholarships their graduating students receive, either in the local newspaper, school newspaper, or assembly. Collecting the information yourself also allows you to include other area scholarships. Don’t limit your list to just students from your school, watch your local paper and find scholarship recipients other area students receive.

Remember this is your future. Your responsibility. Don’t depend on someone else to do the work for  you. Counslers don’t have all the information. Your counselor will only have the information for students at  your school. They don’t have the time to keep a record of all scholarships received by area students. You do.

Once armed with the information your counslor can help you locate the application, or assist you in completing the application. There are many ways your high school counselor can help you. Just don’t look to her to do your work for you.

Remember, this is your future and it’s your responsibilty, but you do have a great team on your side. Together with your team members, your counselor, your teachers,  your parents,  your friends,  you will reach your goals.

January 14, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ninth-Twelfth Grade Essay Scholarship Contests

Last week I highlighted several scholarships with deadlines in January. This week’s scholarships are due February 1. They are both fairly specialized, but are open to students nationwide. I hope some of my readers will consider trying for these scholarships.

The first one, the National Peace Essay Contest, is open to ninth through twelveth grade high school students. It is sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace. Check out there website, which includes information about the contest here.

The second one is the Courageous Persuaders Scholarship contest. It is also open to United States High School students in grades nine through twelve. The contest is sponsored by a variety of businesses, and involves students making a 30 second commercial to warn middle school students about the dangers of alcohol abuse. More information is available on their website here.

Good luck and happy essay writing.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | scholarships | , , , , | 1 Comment