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College Scholarships

College Scholarships: Are They Worth the Effort?

With homework, extracurricular activities, college research, SAT/ACT prep, and other commitments, it’s easy for parents and their college-bound students to put scholarships low on the totem pole of priorities. Finding merit scholarships that fit the student, getting involved in activities that will increase a student’s eligibility for more merit aid, and actually applying for scholarships takes time and effort. Furthermore, because there are no guarantees that a student will win any merit scholarships, it’s easy to minimize their value.

Based on achievement, merit scholarships are open to students in all financial situations.  Your student does not have to be a valedictorian or all-star athlete to qualify.  With 1.5 million private merit scholarships, the opportunities to win money for college are almost endless.  That number doesn’t even include the merit scholarships offered by most colleges!

With the cost of college rising 7% per year for the past several decades (Forbes, March 2012), scholarships have become an increasingly important way to reduce the financial burden of college.  Unlike loans, scholarships do not need to be repaid. According to a Los Angeles Times article that appeared in March, 2012, American families owe more in college debt than credit card debt.

The money that scholarships bring is certainly important. However, scholarships offer much more than financial rewards. Helping pay for one’s college education brings a sense of accomplishment and pride. Awarded for achievement, merit scholarships recognize a student’s excellence in academics, leadership, community service, athletics, writing, and many more areas. Financial need is not considered for merit scholarships, although some scholarships are a “hybrid” of need and merit-based.

Receiving a merit scholarship is an honor and adds another layer of credentials to a student’s resume. Some merit scholarships include exclusive networking opportunities, as well as future job advantages, as many employers look positively at merit scholarship winners.

Putting forth the effort that merit scholarships require is a valuable exercise in taking control over one’s life and pursuing goals. It gives our children a chance to contribute to the cost of their own education. For some, this is a great way to curb entitlement issues. Also, pursuing scholarships minimizes the guilt other students feel about the financial burden college can have on their family.

Indeed, scholarships are about more than money. Here are a few words that come to mind: accomplishment, validation, pride, responsibility, contribution, empowerment, opportunity, and success.

Merit scholarships do take time, effort, and strategy. However, consider this: if a student spends two hours on a scholarship and wins $1,000 that’s $500 per hour!   Okay, say your student takes longer – if it took five hours, that’s $200 per hour!

Ideally, families will begin crafting a game plan to win and qualify for merit scholarships in 9th grade, and begin research in 11th grade.  Students can begin applying for merit scholarships as early as middle school.  While most private merit scholarships are available to high school seniors, there’s no need to stop pursuing merit aid until students have their diplomas in hand.  Families can continue to lower college costs by remaining on the scholarship hunt throughout college and even graduate school.

Nancy Paul finds money for college.  A scholarship strategist, she started Three Wishes Scholarships to help families nationwide reduce college costs with merit scholarships –money for college based on achievement rather than financial need.  Together, her three daughters have been awarded $600,000 in merit scholarships.  Nancy finds as much as $200,000 her private clients are eligible to receive.  She speaks, writes, and coaches families on how to leverage their students’ achievements to win money for college that doesn’t have to be paid back and apply other strategies to lower college costs.  She believes strongly in empowering students with opportunities to contribute to the cost of college. Get in touch with Nancy to find out how she can help your student find money for college.


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