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Free Money for College: Scholarships

Free Money! That is what scholarships and grants are. There are $49.3 billion worth of scholarships on the internet with a lot of this money never even being claimed! I created this guide about how to get that free money, A.K.A Scholarships and Grants.

The purpose of this blog is to make money less scary so I will start by defining some words. 

What is a scholarship? A scholarship can be defined as a sum of money that is awarded to a current or future student for some purpose. Scholarships usually never have to be paid back.  

What is a grant? A grant is a form of need-based aid that generally never needs to be paid back as long as you meet the requirements. 

What is a student loan? A student loan is financial aid that the government or university gives to students that needs to be paid back. This form of financial aid comes with a certain interest rate that will vary based on your credit or other factors. This is the worst option for students, because they will have to repay this with interest attached.

How Do I find the Perfect Scholarship?

Scholarships can be found in many different places. They can be found online, at your college, at your parent’s companies, at your own company, or at your church. There is a total of $49.3 billion worth of scholarships available to you.

Apply For Scholarships On the Internet

Websites such as scholarships.com, niche.com, finaid.org, fastweb.com, and CollegeBoard all have scholarships available for you. 

  1. Get on any one of these websites  
  2. Look for the apply for scholarships button
  3. Use the filter option to filter down to the ones you think you will apply for
    Students with disabilities, low-income families, athletes, minority students, high performing students, and many other groups can get scholarships if you look for them. 
  4. Save links to scholarships that you think you will qualify for from each website 
  5. APPLY! 

Alternatively, you can Google “(your major) scholarship” or “(your city) scholarship”. This will come up with hundreds of results.

Apply For Scholarships Through Your College

Most colleges have thousands of dollars worth of scholarships available to students of their university. If you stop by your school’s financial aid office, they will be able to help you with finding the perfect scholarship for you! You may have to write an essay for these scholarships, but even if you take an hour to write an essay and are awarded $500 that means you are being paid $500 per hour. This is an incredible way to get through school without student loans.  

Step By Step guide to apply for University scholarships:

  1. Get on your school’s financial aid website to see if they have their scholarships listed there.  
  2. If they do not have any scholarships listed on their website, then call your financial aid office to see if you can set up a meeting with somebody.  
  3. Go to your meeting with the financial aid office and ask them about what scholarships that they have to offer you.  
  4. Start applying for these scholarships!
  5. Follow up with the financial aid office via email or phone call. Make sure they know who you are…especially if you are writing an essay. They are likely the people who are reading the essays.  
  6. Get that scholarship! The more scholarships that you apply for, the better chance you have of actually getting one.  

There is no such thing as an easy scholarship.  Easy scholarships don’t exist, because you will still have to search and apply for 50+ scholarships in order to get some money.

Getting Scholarships From Work

There are many employers who will pay for your school as long as you pledge to work there for a certain number of years. Companies such as Starbucks, Home Depot, and many others will do this. You can look at their programs by talking to your HR person at the company. They will be able to tell you how much they will give you for school and tell you how long you will have to work for them.  

Many other employers will also pay for your education. All you can do is ask! Even if it is not technically part of your benefits package, if it will help make you better at your job then you can ask if they will pay for it.

Getting Scholarships From Church

Many faiths offer their parishioners scholarships! You can speak to your pastor about the scholarships that they have to offer you. If they don’t have scholarships that are available, they will likely know of other options for you to go to college without student loans. 

It is very possible that they will have many websites that they send people to for scholarships. 

My Scholarship Story

After about 3 months of applying for jobs and 6 months of working in sales, I finally got a job in the field that I really wanted to do…marketing. I became an SEO strategist for a marketing agency in my area. This is when I was finally able to pay off my student loans.  

I was living at home to save money and just working all the time. I worked a full 40 hour week at the marketing agency and then would go home and start doing doordash. I lived as basic as I possibly could, because I wanted to be able to move out. After a few months of putting almost 100% of my income towards student loans I finally paid them off.  

This was a great feeling! I was finally free of student loans. I was able to save some money at last! Since I depleted my savings account, I knew it was time to start building it back up and looking for somewhere to move to. I ended up moving in my girlfriend about 45 minutes away from my parent’s house. I was still only paying half of the rent which meant I could still save money.  

I just think about how soon I could’ve done that if I did apply for more scholarships. If I didn’t have to completely deplete my savings and make stupid interest payments on my student loans.

What is a Grant?

There are two main types of grants in the United States. One type of grant is for companies to be able to accomplish a task of some sort. The other type of grant is for students who are looking to go to college without student loans. A Pell Grant is the most commonly talked about type of student grant. They are for families who have a low income but are US citizens. They help students who aren’t otherwise able to go to school.  

There are many other types of grants out there that are for students who are studying specific things. There is the Academic Competitiveness Grant for students who graduated from a rigorous high school program. There are TEACH grants, which are awarded to students who commit to teaching in high-need fields after graduation.  

 
Grants are great because they usually don’t have to be paid back! As long as keep to the terms of the grant, you will not have to pay them back. If you drop out of college too early, don’t keep up the GPA that is sometimes required, or do something else that breaks the terms of the grant, then most will have you pay them back. 

Check out StudentGrants.org to find out more about Student Grants. 

To Sum It Up…

Take advantage of all the free money that is available to you! Free money, like other free things, is always the best! Take your time, apply for as many scholarships and grants that you possibly can, and you will most likely get at least some money! Make it a part-time job and work on it for an hour each weekday, or apply for 2 scholarships per weekday! Decide on a goal and figure out what works best for you. 

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