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Scholarships: Doing the Research for Financial Aid Is Worth the Effort

By Matthew Loux
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Public University

Many students miss out on scholarships and other forms of financial aid by not finding any that suit their planned course of study. In other cases, they ignore those small scholarships or grants that add up to a tidy sum in helping to pay for a college education.

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But there is so much money floating around, just waiting to be picked up by someone who needs the extra assistance from scholarships, grants or loans. Also, there are many sponsors and foundations that can increase your chances of graduating without any debt.

According to Savingforcollege.com, private scholarships make up only a small percentage of total scholarship awards. If you are an athlete, you should know that more than 50% of athletic scholarships go to football, soccer, basketball, and track and field programs. Overall, about $100 million in scholarship money goes unclaimed.

Forbes Magazine noted that student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt. The nearly $1.3 trillion in U.S. student loan debt is attributed to 44 million students.

You can reduce or avoid student loan debt by applying for scholarships or grants. Your first stop is the financial aid office that can assist you in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), locating scholarships, grants, work study programs and many other opportunities.

There Are Unlimited Scholarships to Apply For, but Watch Application Deadlines

A major plus of scholarships is that they are considered as gifts and do not need to be repaid. There is no limit to the number of scholarships you may apply for. But most scholarships do have deadlines, so it’s important to pay attention to the fine print and apply on time.

The Scholly app has helped students win over $100 million dollars in scholarship awards. There is no cost to sign up for this app and get started.

A section on Scholly shows the different deadlines for the listed scholarships. By being able to see the deadlines, you can choose which scholarships you need to apply for first and which ones to apply for later.

Scholly is available to high school seniors as well as undergraduate and graduate students in the United States. It can even be used by international students coming to study in the United States.

It is better to get a jump start and apply early, so you can accumulate enough scholarship funding to help pay for school before your first semester starts. Colleges and universities are becoming ever more expensive and scholarships help to offset the rising costs of higher education.

Also, there is another benefit to applying for scholarships as soon as possible. When you apply could determine whether you get one big check or if you have to renew the scholarship every semester.

By applying for as many scholarships and grants as possible, you can accumulate some small monetary awards of perhaps $100 to $500. They can add up to a decent sum and help defray your incidental expenses.

Only Some Full-Time Students Use Financial Aid Grants and Scholarships

According to a College Board report, the figures for the 2018-19 school year showed over $186.9 billion dollars in financial aid to undergraduate students in the form of loans, grants, and work-study programs. During the same school year, graduate students received about $59.2 billion in loans, grants, and work-study.

The grant assistance to help undergraduate and graduate education has risen over the past few years. The individual grant funding per undergraduate is higher than the previous decade. The report also shows an increase in graduate student borrowing, but there was good news that undergraduate borrowing declined.

Many Websites Help You Find Scholarships

There are many websites that can assist you in finding scholarships and grants suited to your financial needs. Niche is one of the most common sites for finding scholarships.

Niche ranks colleges in categories such as majors, campus life and number of students. It also retains your preferences after you sign up for a free account, so you’ll have a record of your applications.

Other valuable scholarship websites include Chegg, Fastweb, ScholarshipPoints, Scholarships and Cappex, to name a few. Knowledge is power; knowing where to start your scholarship search gives you the power to start your journey to graduating college with little to no debt.

Review the college you wish to attend and use the admissions calendar to estimate the costs to attend that college. You can also sign up to receive emails about school recommendations and get scholarship applications that are easy to fill out. Other scholarship applications require more detailed information and may require you to write an essay.

With all the financial aid available to you, web-based financial aid resources help you get closer to your goal of paying for college and graduating debt-free. In addition, contact Financial Aid to explore other forms of financial assistance that are available to you.

About the Author

Matthew Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud and criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years.

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