No Time for Scholarships


Judy Moseman explains how to prioritize your search for financial aid.

Q) I know how important it is to look for scholarships, and my parents have told me they won't be able to pay for college unless I'm able to win about half of my college costs. But I'm too busy to apply for scholarships! I'm in several activities (and lead some of them), I have a part-time job and I'm a worship leader for my youth group. I need to apply for scholarships, but I just don't have time to find them! Where am I going to find that kind of time? What's the best way to use the little time I have?

A) I've got good news for you: With your busy life, you're going to love college! You'll have even more opportunities for leadership and involvement, and your biggest challenge may be determining what to focus on and what to ignore. But first you've got to get there.

There are actually four sources of funding for college: the federal government; state government, if you attend an institution in your home state; the school you attend; and private sources such as service organizations, foundations, PTA, church, and community and civic organizations like the Rotary Club. The first three categories actually contribute most of the money awarded to college students.

If you're short on time, prioritize this way: Apply for financial aid at the college(s) of your choice. (This process generally includes filing the FAFSA with the government.) They determine the amount of aid you will receive from government sources as well as what they can offer you in gifts and grants. Then, apply for private scholarship money. If your Student Aid Report (which you receive after filing the FAFSA) doesn't identify you as having significant need, these non-government, non-school sources may be your major resource. I'd recommend applying for those.

More advice: Apply "smart." About 90 percent of private scholarships are awarded locally. Early in your senior year of high school, talk to your guidance counselor about how to apply for local scholarships. Then, even though you are busy, be sure to meet the deadlines on the applications. Another way to streamline your search for college money is to find scholarships through one of the online scholarship search websites such as fastweb.com, scholarships.com or absolutelyscholarships.com.

If you take whatever time you have and really focus on applying, you're likely to win a few awards—which can go a long way. I hope this information helps you, and encourages you to make time to look for scholarships.

Written by Judy Moseman

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