Investigating scholarships

There are thousands of scholarships available to prospective college students. They can come from the federal government, your state government, your college or career school, or a private or nonprofit organization.  High school guidance counselors generally have a program to help with this research, but the more your child does, the more personally “invested” they can become in the outcome.

Some scholarships for college are merit-based, awarded based on academic achievement or on a combination of academics and a special talent, trait, or interest. Others may be based on financial need. 

Many scholarships are geared toward particular groups of people, and some are available because of where you or your parent work, or because you come from a certain background. For example, there are scholarships available to children of military personnel.   

A scholarship might cover the entire cost of your child’s tuition, or it might be a one-time award of a few hundred dollars. But note that a scholarship will affect your child’s other student aid because all your student aid added together can’t be more than your cost of attendance at your college or career school. So, you’ll need to let your school know if you’ve been awarded a scholarship so that the financial aid office can subtract that amount from your cost of attendance (and from certain other aid, such as loans, that you might have been offered). Then, any amount left can be covered by other financial aid for which you’re eligible. 

There are numerous websites with information about sources of scholarships. For example, www.fastweb.com and www.finaid.org contain search engines with data about thousands of scholarships with varying eligibility criteria. Also, local libraries and high school guidance offices may have information about state-sponsored aid programs and scholarships sponsored by local organizations.

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