If one of your family goals is to send your children to college, it may take more than Federal Financial Aid to make this possible. Scholarships are another way to pay for school and preparing for these awards starts as early as grade school. Scholarships are a type of financial aid that is based on a student’s potential. Some scholarships are based on grades or SAT scores, others are based on sports, service work, or club involvement. How parents can help increase a child’s chance for scholarships is with a little help and some guidance.
Encourage a broad range of interests
While it’s true that high SATs and good grades in high school will increase the odds of landing a scholarship, I learned years ago that encouraging our children to explore a broad range of interests also makes a difference. My teen was offered several substantial merit-based scholarships because of her volunteer work, long-time participation in clubs or sports, and significant leadership experience.
Researching niche scholarships early
Niche scholarships are those that have to do more to do with your student’s interests and heritage rather than how high they’ve scored on the SATs. Because these take time to track down and apply for, you and your teen should start researching niche scholarships as early as 8th or 9th grade. We missed out on several lucrative scholarships because we had not expected how long it would take to gather the necessary documentation.
Hit those early FAFSA deadlines
FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the gateway application for scholarships as well as federal aid. Since colleges only have limited funds available, we discovered that students who apply early get better scholarship packages than those who wait until the last minute. The first FAFSA deadline to hit is January 31. Parents can improve their child’s chance at a scholarship by meeting that deadline even if all they can do for now is estimate.
Parents can review the essays
Most scholarship applications include a personal essay which give your student the opportunity to share their story and personality. While we can’t write the essay for them, we can help our teens brainstorm for topic ideas, read the essay to see if anything has been missed, and help with proofreading. It’s the essay that can make or break the deal which is why we should be prepared to help
Preparing for college is an exciting time for teens and parents alike. These four ways are how parents can help their child increase their chances for scholarships that will make attending college possible.
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