Scholarships for College

A dear friend inquired about scholarships and grants for college. This is what I responded to him.

Main resources for scholarships:

  1. Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This is a must.
  2. Ace the National Standardized Tests such as SAT and ACT: Universities put weights on these scores. This is especially important for homeschoolers to know where their homeschool grades really compare to regular schools.
    • PSAT/NMSQT: Usually taken as a junior. Many don’t take this exam, which is a huge oversight.
    • ACT & SAT: For all these exams, we may take them a few times. My kids took them a few times. Only the best scores count!!! Also, we’ve noticed kids in middle schools taking these when my son took it.
    • PLAN THIS AHEAD due to prepping for the test (6-12 months), practicing test taking, scheduling given other responsibilities (e.g. end of summer, beginning of semester), and retaking possibilities.
  3. Use academic advising service:
    • Schools may have these services for free
    • My family used kathelee.com‘s service to curate the kids’ educational path based on out extenuating circumstances (e.g. homeschooled, just moved from another state). It was $250 per child for our first two hours back then, but she may have increased the fee now.
  4. Use scholarship-aggregate services: We are also paying a small local business, Scholarship Plaza to inform us about scholarships that our children should apply for. The idea is that they will ask for all information including major, interests, ethnicity, volunteering experience, extra curricular activity (e.g. boys scouts), sports, etc, really customizing it for each student.
  5. Use scholarship-aggregate sites: It’s very similar to the “scholarship-aggregate services” but they’re free. Their examples are: Cappex.comfastweb.com, and Scholarships.com. You will receive scholarship information based on student information you inputted in their account. I would sometimes be informed about relevant scholarships first emailed to me before getting them via the paid service.
    • Just be sure not to click on sponsor page, instead, click “Skip …” or “Go to the scholarship”“.
  6. Google Alerts: Mine has “Dallas Scholarships” and “Engineering Scholarships”. This has not been too fruitful for me.
  7. Manual web search every now and then just get in and do a manual search.
  8. Keep our eyes and ears open: There are also some local, university-, or company-based scholarships. My daughter won a local organization one and a community college one. She has also applied for my workplace’s disability scholarship.

The Other Half of the Challenge

The scholarship opportunities are there but our struggle has been on encouraging them to apply. It’s a tide pod challenge – i.e. Caution: excessive encouragement from parents may cause foamy mouth. Also, plan very early for these scholarship applications especially the ones that require letters of recommendation, essays, or videos. We sometimes share a proposed letter of recommendation when requesting one to make it easier for the recommender to just fill in or tweak it.

Questions/Concerns/Comments?

… please share them in the comment section. The topic of scholarship  can be a book by itself. Due to regulation change, information in a book may not be applicable by the time the book is published. Also, one may run into regulation difference by locality and student’s circumstances.

Fawze is currently an Advanced Consumer Insight Analyst with a FORTUNE 500 company in its marketing organization. Before that, he was a faculty member in a U.S. land-grant university where he taught and conducted outreach programs in different areas of personal finance. An unapologetically Malayan Tiger dad, he single-handedly trained his son to drive a manual car and coached his then-teenagers into significant increases in Standardized Tests (e.g. SAT, ACT, TSI).

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