You can use scholarships to have a debt-free college experience. Your kids can pursue the dream of a college education without your having to forgo your own dreams.
No, it isn’t free, but it’s a fraction of the cost weighing down black families in student loan debt and ruinous credit-shattering defaults and late payments.
I’m talking about Scholarship Solutions—an inventive approach to finding the scholarships you need, and assisting you in qualifying for them.
The brainchild of Rhea M. Watson, who also goes by the moniker Scholarship Doctor, Scholarship Solutions is a full-service organization that works with clients from age “zero to 80,” as Watson told me.
That’s right. Watson’s youngest client is 6 months old. She says it’s never too early to start this process.
“If you can start securing scholarship dollars at birth, why wait until senior year? If we get a student in senior year we are ordinarily playing catch-up,” she laments. “The younger the student, the more scholarship dollars we can help them to secure.”
Although Scholarship Solutions works with babies, Watson says fifth grade is probably the best time to start working with a service like hers.
“Going into junior high we can plan those classes that will help students to be successful, and also make sure they’re on the right college prep track once they’re in high school.”
Watson secured a lot of scholarships to put herself through undergrad at Morris Brown College, an HBCU. Not unlike Christopher Grey of Scholly and Gabrielle McCormick of Scholarship Informer, both of whom garnered a ton of scholarships, she has parlayed her experience into a money-making enterprise.
Scholarship Solutions goes further, however, by expanding its services beyond just finding scholarships. The Scholarship Solutions team functions more like a coach, shepherding students through the entire educational experience to maximize their chances of winning scholarships. The team assists with essay writing, major exploration, internships, and more.
For this level of service, the fees aren’t cheap, but they’re a lot less than student loan debt would be:
- $500 for students in grades K-5
- $1,250 for grades 6-8
- $1,500 for ninth graders
- $2,000 for 10th graders
- $2,500 for 11th graders
- $3,000 for 12th graders
- And $2,500 for undergraduate and graduate students
Start Early, Hire a Tutor
Scholarship Solutions is based in Las Vegas and has a diverse clientele. Watson notes that there’s a huge difference in the approaches of the different demographic groups she serves.
“Unfortunately, second semester of senior year is when I get most of my African American students,” she told me. “My Caucasian clients typically start in fifth grade, and they always complain that they’re too late.
“My Asian families start in second grade, and they complain that they’re starting too late. My Latino families usually begin in the junior year, and Native American families are typically undergraduates, unfortunately.”
Watson wants black families to think about this process much earlier. “The earlier, the better,” she says.
Watson also advocates tutoring. “Tutoring is for smart people, not dumb people.” There’s a stigma to tutoring in certain communities, but others know that tutors can be used not only to remediate but to help accelerate learning.
“My international clients have a different mindset about tutoring,” Watson says. “They see tutors as part of a team of educators who ensure that students are being prepared to the maximum, not the minimum.”
Scholarship Solutions has also helped students burdened with student loan debt to have their debt canceled—though Watson is quick to say that not all students are eligible, but it’s worth it to try.
For more information about Scholarship Solutions, visit its website.