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Planning for college can be difficult. You need to select a school that will suit your goals, and be accepted into it. Then comes a harder part – paying for your schooling. The rising costs of higher education have made affording college extremely difficult for students and parent. That being said, if you use time wisely to research scholarships, you’ll be able to attend the college of your dreams without falling into a nightmare of student loan debt. Below are 6 tips for using scholarships to avoid student loan debt.
6 Tips For Using Scholarships To Avoid Student Loan Debt
Use Scholarship Search Engines
If you follow the example of savvy scholarship researchers, you can use scholarships to avoid the pitfall of student debt. You have to be dedicated to finding the resources that will pay for your education.
Scholarship searches are plentiful online. Find one that shows the type of scholarships you believe you have a reasonable chance of winning. The administrators of scholarship search engines are thorough. They find scholarships that you might never see, otherwise. Use that experience for your benefit.
You don’t need a lot of money or perfect grades to go to college. The last thing you want to do is graduate into the career of your dreams and then be saddled with debt for decades after you graduate. How can you enjoy a career if you don’t have money for a newish house and car?
Don’t Close Any Doors
Use the resources at your disposal to find the scholarships for which you are eligible, and which you have a good chance of winning. Apply for some of the biggest awards – you never know. If you have a great resume and essay, you could win.
Cover yourself by applying for some smaller scholarships, too. Your chances are better there, even if the money isn’t as good. There are plenty of unique and weird scholarships out there.
Network with your friends who are also planning to attend college. Have them look for you and you can do the same for them. Start the conversation early, not late, about financial planning for college.
It’s Never Too Early – Or Too Late
You can never begin planning too early. Scholarships are out there for underclassmen to apply for, and if you’re an adult who is not in school, you can apply long before you plan to go back to school. There are scholarships for kids in grade school! And there are scholarships for senior citizens.
Organize Your Efforts
If you’re not settled on a college yet, don’t be afraid to look out of state or at private schools. Becoming organized with the financial needs you have will ease stress when you select a college.
Look at colleges you’d like to attend, and understand the costs. Learn the process for gaining financial aid and the priority deadlines your desired school has. The forms must be completed on time or they’re worthless.
You may not gain enough from scholarships alone to attend college without student loans. Grants and fellowships may help to fill in the gap, but scholarships are your best bet. You need to understand how to find out how much you would still owe after you apply the scholarships and financial aid you have already earned.
Know What Aid Is Available
Many students don’t realize the aid that is available, before they turn to student debt. Adults who wish to return to school have been away from the education system for awhile, and they need to learn their options while juggling jobs and family. If they put forth the effort, the money is there to be won.
Using a scholarship search makes it easy to find out how much you can win. You’ll want to find funding to cover books and fees if you can, as well as tuition. Even smaller scholarships can cover textbooks and some lab fees.
Keep Your Momentum
From the first scholarship you win, everything can snowball. After months spent applying, take the time to attend campus workshops offered for traditional or non-traditional students, depending on what category covers you.
Learn as much as you can about scholarships and financial aid, so that you are knowledgeable about the process of applying. In many cases, scholarship funds may only pay out about a third of their funding available, simply because there are not enough applicants for the money set aside.
Keep in mind, as you apply for scholarships, you don’t have to go into debt to attend college. Many students recruited seem to accept student debt as a fact of life if they want to attend college. This is simply not the case.
The money is there if you use your time wisely. Particularly for non-traditional students, you need to understand that the scholarship funds are available because the people who find the opportunities feel that students are an excellent investment.
Readers, what are your thoughts on using scholarships to avoid student loan debt?
Author Bio: Pyper Barnes is a Junior Finance Major at the University of Alabama. Pyper is the owner of WeirdScholarships. WeirdScholarships.net is a website dedicated to helping students find unique and interesting scholarship opportunities.
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