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Increase in College Costs Make Scholarships A Must-Have
Students planning to go to college need to start looking for scholarships as early as age 14, search often and use a variety of methods including social media, according to Scholarship America, the nation’s largest distributor of scholarships.
“With the cost of attaining a college education at an all-time high, scholarships have become a much-needed resource for students seeking to complete a degree,” said Lauren Segal, president and CEO of Scholarship America. “Students should plan to start the search by age 14 and consider the search a part-time job that they should spend several hours each year looking for scholarships. The time spent will have immense benefits in the long run by providing a financial base for a student’s higher education.”
College costs have risen more than 400 percent in the past 25 years and student debt recently hit $1 trillion, topping credit card debt. Now more than ever, students need to find scholarships of all types, including recurring scholarships, which will enable them to not only get into college but also complete their education.
Scholarship America offers the following tips for starting early and looking often to increase the likelihood of landing scholarship dollars:
• Raise your profile - Create profiles on credible scholarship search sites that track scholarships and match the student’s criteria. Many sites accept profiles from parents as well as high school students.
• Make it social – Follow Twitter handles like @scholamerica, @gilmanprogram, @scholarshipsusa and @college_success to learn about the latest scholarship offerings. In addition, December 15 marks the 220th anniversary of the First Amendment and to celebrate the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a “Free to Tweet” campaign inviting high school and college students nationwide to tweet their support for the right to free expression. Scholarships worth $5,000 will be awarded to 22 winners ages 14-22. For more information, visit www.FreeToTweet.org.
• Go online – Sites like scholarshipamerica.org and fastweb.com are frequently updated and offer a wealth of information about scholarships. Make note of the requirements including application deadlines and types of experience needed to ensure you are prepared when it comes time to apply.
• Build your resume – By researching scholarship requirements at an early age, students can learn about important criteria needed such as community service or volunteer hours required for applications and more. Understanding criteria ahead of time can give a student more time to accomplish those requirements.
• Continue until graduation – Many students apply for scholarships before their freshman year in college and then stop, but the college bills keep coming. Students need to continue to research and apply throughout their years of attaining a higher education degree to ensure they graduate with a manageable level of debt.
There are scholarships available to high school juniors and younger students, which can be deferred until freshman year of college. The following three programs are specifically geared towards underclassmen:
• Raytheon Math Moves U: Raytheon has a middle school scholarship focused on students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades only, who submit an answer to the question, "How does math put the action in your passion?" Awards of $1,000 can be used for "camperships" at a science, technology, engineering, or math-related summer camp—or set aside for the students' freshman year of college.
• Best Buy @15: Best Buy Children's Foundation awards up to 1,200 scholarships of $1,000 each to students in grades 9-12 who are planning to attend college after high school. Scholarship recipients are selected based on academic achievement, volunteering efforts and work experience.
• Discover Scholarship Program: The Discover Scholarship Program is aimed specifically at high school juniors who have earned at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale in their freshman and sophomore years. Up to 10 scholarships of $30,000 are awarded each year and may be used for any type of post-high school education, training or certification at a two- or four-year school.
Scholarship America is celebrating 50 years of helping provide a wealth of information for students seeking scholarship dollars for education beyond high school. In 2010, Scholarship America provided $205 million to 107,000 students through its programs.
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About Scholarship America
Scholarship America is a national education service organization that mobilizes support for students getting into and graduating from college. Scholarship America has distributed more than $2.5 billion in scholarship assistance to more than 1.7 million students over the last 50 years. Scholarship America’s programs, which include Dollars for Scholars®, help fund both entry-level and multi-year scholarships, as well as emergency financial grants. More information is available at scholarshipamerica.org.
Scholarship America’s Dream Award is a renewable scholarship fund targeted toward completion. These annually-increasing awards will be given to students selected from across the nation who are entering their second year of education beyond high school.
Scholarship America's blog, The Scholarship Coach, appears weekly at USNews.com, featuring expert advice on all kinds of scholarship issues. Here on the site, we feature a new highlight from the blog every week, and you can also download a free Scholarship Coach e-book!
Nearly 1/4 of the U.S. population owes a collective $700 billion in student loan debt. We are committed to helping more students graduate from college with less debt. A gift of just $1 a day -- for a week, for a month, or for a year -- can help ensure that students are able to achieve their goals.