Did you know that last year over $100 million in scholarship money went unclaimed? That amount could send up to 4,167 people to college at the average tuition of $24K a year. With the national student loan debt at more than $1.3 trillion, it is vital to your financial future to begin to research external resources.
Start Researching Now
It is disappointing that many students across the country could be benefitting from these opportunities, but they let deadlines pass or laziness get to them. Therefore, as the end of the year comes to a close, begin researching how you can secure additional financial aid awards for 2017. It is never too early to begin researching and submitting applications for scholarship opportunities. Yet, you must be willing to manage your time wisely. With the rise of social media, many of us are often distracted. Even though we are constantly reminded by our parents of what we need to do, we tend to wait until the last minute to do it.
What Are You Waiting For?
If you are a high school senior and haven’t taken the SATs or ACTs, what are you waiting for? It’s the beginning of December and most college applications are due at the beginning of the New Year. Because of this inaction, not only will you miss out on admission to your favorite school, but opportunities to secure additional aid because the test results have not been received by the institution during the awarding process.
Parents, Encourage Your Kids to Apply For Scholarships
I have spoken to many parents within the past month about how to pay for college, yet their children haven’t even begun collecting official transcripts and submitting documents in for admission. The reality is that at the end of the year, these will be the same parents taking out a Parent PLUS loan to help cover their child’s educational expenses or begging the institution to cover the shortfall. Many parents are encouraging their children to go to college, but are not helping them secure the resources they need. Therefore, it is important to help your child find opportunities as this is an activity that you all can do together. If not, you will take out loans and postpone your retirement because of the financial assistance you provided for your child.
Don’t Miss Out on Free Money
Moreover, I cannot stress enough the importance of researching and completing scholarships. Scholarships help defray educational costs and allow you to focus on the task at hand—school. Remember scholarships are gift aid, it is money you do not have to pay back. So don’t miss out because you can’t stop scrolling on SnapChat, Facebook, and Instagram. Remember, the only thing holding you back is you, so STOP scrolling and START doing!
Jessica Brown, CEO of College Gurl, has been helping students, parents, and guardians successfully navigate the seas of financial aid at post-secondary institutions as a financial aid administrator at various universities. She is also the author of How to Pay for College When You’re Broke. For more information on College Gurl, please visit www.collegegurl.com or follow College Gurl on Instagram and Twitter @collegegurljb.