Yes, You Can Afford College: 4 Tips for Getting Scholarships

Photo (cc) by MDGovpics

Looking at that money mountain that must be climbed to get through college is more than intimidating. Luckily, we can break down the job of getting those finances together into simple steps that make getting a college education achievable.

In the first of this three-part series, we looked at filling out FAFSA. Now, let’s look at scholarships, which can ease your burden, or even pay the whole way.

If you are a parent, the more you can help your busy students, the more scholarship money they are likely to earn.

Here are some helpful things to know about getting scholarships. Yes, they may require Type-A behavior, but I can say from experience, it pays off. My children received thousands of dollars in scholarship money, which enabled them to attend their schools of choice.

1. Document volunteer service

Make sure to prepare your student by encouraging him or her to do lots of volunteering during their high school years. Colleges want to see that students are well rounded, active and involved in their communities.

This is very important, especially if they have a lower grade point average. My son graduated from high school with a 3.3 GPA, but he had completed more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work. This track record of giving impressed several scholarship committees, resulting in some excellent financial aid.

Be precise with your documentation. I learned that my daughter won a $4,000 scholarship in a close competition with another girl because of her precise documentation of her hours, broken into quarter-hour segments.

I recommend keeping track of hours on a calendar for each year of high school and transferring the information to a student activity resume.

2. Create impressive student activity resumes

You can create one student activity resume or more, depending on your needs. When you begin to think about all of the activities that your student has been involved in, you may be surprised at how many things they have actually accomplished. Document them.Highlight academic participation such as National Honor Society membership, but remember that sports involvement shows that they have learned something about team playing and being disciplined.

As I worked with my children to create a high school activity resume, it became clear that we would have to expand the activities into separate resumes for school and volunteer activities. If your child is active in church and is applying to a church-affiliated school, that could be the subject of another resume.

I even created a photo collage of different plays and programs that they had worked in.

3. Keep track of scholarship deadlines and requirements

This is where you want to kick your type-A tendencies into gear. If you aren’t an obsessive-compulsive person, you can become one temporarily for scholarship purposes. You can begin applying for many scholarships late in the junior year.

I kept a calendar with large blocks that had scholarship application deadlines highlighted in yellow. I attached sticky notes that showed the requirements for each application so that we would know when essays needed to be done. Then I acted like a drill sergeant (a nice one, though) and made sure that they completed everything by the dates due.

I helped by proofreading, sending in the applications — and even typing essays for my exhausted son at 11 p.m. while he dictated to me.

4. Search for good scholarships

The big scholarship websites like Fastweb and Scholarships.com can put you in touch with many scholarships of every imaginable type.

However, local scholarships are more likely to be where you find your best chances. Check the school counseling website. It likely will have a breakdown of all of the local and national scholarships available, as well as showing deadlines and links to them.

Scour local newspapers to see what you can find in your area. Don’t forget to ask your friends and business contacts if they know of any available scholarship opportunities.

Remember to check with the focus colleges for their available scholarships. Many of their deadlines are for February if the student will attend in the fall.

Scholarship attainment can seem daunting, but good documentation and presentation are keys that can give you great success at winning the money that you need. Add careful time management and a little obsessive-compulsive behavior to the mix, and you have a surefire method for success.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
70% of Older Adults Botch This Basic Retirement Question
70% of Older Adults Botch This Basic Retirement Question

Can you answer this fundamental retirement income question?

The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

Beware these cash-guzzling missteps when you stop at any gas station.

10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon
10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5
15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5

These products offer big value at a small price.

8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will
8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will

Here’s why the last decades of life are harder now than they used to be.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?
Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?

A growing number of people are wearing two masks instead of just one. Should you join them?

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

These 10 Postal Price Hikes Start Next Week
These 10 Postal Price Hikes Start Next Week

Starting on Jan. 24, the price of various mail and shipping services will rise.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire
The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire

I’m a millionaire several times over. I got here the same way you can — by following these simple steps.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.