Articles, College,

Free College? Is that possible?

girl with cash

One of the best pieces of advice I ever learned was, “Why say no if its free?” While that might apply to small things such as candy and clothes, I never would have found it applicable to college as well. 

Growing up, I always heard how difficult it was for families to send their kids to college. While getting an education implies that in the future a person will be more well-off, sometimes, it is even harder to get that initial education. 

When I was applying to college, I was lucky enough to run across several resources that gave me the opportunities for scholarships. With the amount of money that is being offered for graduating seniors, I can say without a doubt that it is feasible for a person to obtain a degree without the burdens of student loans and debt. For me, I was able to earn over $100,000 in scholarships for my 4 years of undergraduate at UAB. If I can do it, so can you! Check out the resources that I have listed below to see what is out there! 

Here are a few of the resources that I used to find the scholarships that I received: 

-Scholarship Websites 

  • There are SO many websites out there that provide high school students with scholarship opportunities. Several of them are similar to search engines that send you to other websites. You can even filter depending on what you plan on pursuing for your education, GPA/ACT scores, region you live in, and etc. 
  • Look for nationally awarded scholarship programs that can pay a certain amount yearly!
    • Several of them go unaccepted each year, and I was awarded one that pays annually for four years (Elks National Foundation Scholarship) 
      • Examples: Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship Foundation, Coke-Cola Scholarship Program, 
  • Look for local opportunities
    • I received several scholarships from local organizations and chapters; I found most of them through my school counselor who would even mail the completed applications for me. They were usually smaller amounts, but receiving multiple ones really adds up and lessens the burden of paying for college. 
  • Play to your strengths 
    • If you are a minority, a first-generation college bound student, earned a high GPA, played sports, or anything else that makes you unique, USE THAT! There are SO many opportunities and scholarships out there that are tailored to specific traits or requirements. Try to look up based on YOU, and I’m sure you’ll come up with a long list! 
  • Check out your school’s scholarship portal! 
    • There are SO many scholarships that alumni and other donors endow, and several of them are never used because no one applies for them! I know my university has a website where each student just fills out one application and are automatically considered for 100+ scholarships. The good thing about these scholarships is that they go directly to your student account, so you can use them ASAP!

General Tips for Writing Scholarship Essays 

  • Keep your essays so that you can re-use them! A lot of the prompts are similar or can be adapted in different ways, so I would definitely recommend keeping a folder with all essays! 
  • Make it Personal! Try to speak about your experience and write as if you were telling a story. It makes it more compelling and the reader is more likely to remember your application! 
  • ALWAYS follow the guidelines! Make sure to read all the instructions on what the application requires, deadlines, and how to submit! You could miss out on some free money if you don’t follow instructions! 

I hope these tips were useful and that you can use them as you approach applying to college. I know it requires some time and hard work, but the efforts surely pay off when you no longer have to worry about paying for your education! 

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