One of the best ways of how to get money for college is scholarships. From 2015-2016 $6.1 billion were awarded in scholarships. This may sound like a lot of money, but not when $560 billion is the price. That would be like saving $1 on a $100 dollar grocery bill, you have to try to get that low of savings. It is easy to have to pay full price at college. Think of these scholarships not as free money, but instead as coupons, deals, and sales to lower your bill.
Not everyone gets these scholarships and there are people who receive more benefits than others for scholarships. Around 10% of students receive any scholarships and almost 0.2% of students receive a full-ride scholarship. It may be a small demographic, but that demographic does exist. It will take work to belong in this 10% or even 0.2%, but it will be worth it if you or a loved one plan on going to college.
Where To Look For Scholarships
From corporate to religious organizations many different groups provide scholarships. These scholarships can be quite resourceful as they provide hundreds or thousands in aid making a great way of how to get money for college.
Corporate scholarships can be found from almost any company from Burger King to GEICO. There are many that are fairly open including the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and Penguin Random House Scholarship Essay Contests. However, anyone can apply to these scholarships. Therefore, competition will be fierce. I remember seeing one of these at my school and won $500 for one of them. Some will have eligibility requirements though from income level to major being sought, make sure to watch for those.
Religious organizations also provide scholarships. For instance I applied for a scholarship from a religious organization found in Catholic churches called the Knights of Columbus. While they tend to be awarded to children of members they do give some to others. I had to write an essay (not unlike corporate scholarships) and won about $1,000 from that.
There are many sites that provide scholarships with various requirements, usually essays. I did find many of these when I was looking for scholarships, but did not win a single one (probably because competition is even fiercer than from corporations and organizations). However, these are still worth trying to obtain. You do need to watch out for scams, someone I know lost money applying to a scam disguised as a scholarship. You must be cautious. One of the most reputable (legit, but not positive) sites that provides various scholarships is SallieMae.
Some people think of FASFA as a way only lower income people can get grants, but that is not true. It is based off the difference between cost of attendance (COA) and expected family contribution (EFC). This can vary based off which school they are going too. Either way, it is worth applying for no matter what you or your family make.
Who is eligible? Just about anyone in the US, even non-citizens are eligible.
The worst they could say is no.
I never got an athletic scholarship (not many for swimming), but many athletes are eligible for athletic scholarships. They are good ways of how to get money for college. Some will provide money to certain athletes with few or no strings attached very much like scholarships from websites.
The most well know athletic scholarships though are provided by the schools themselves and can provide you with more savings. In fact, sometimes colleges will come to you if you are an outstanding athlete. You may have to try to sell yourself to recruiters though. However, you will have to participate in the sport at school so there are strings attached.
For those who were never good with a ball there are eSports scholarships.
Other Scholarships Provided By Colleges
Speaking of colleges coming to you as an athlete, many colleges will try to find exemplary students. For instance, I was in the top 10% of my class and scored high on my SATs. I do not remember the exact numbers and SAT scores are hard to get after college. But either way practically every college I applied to sent me an acceptance letter. So where did I go with all this opportunity: University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
You may be asking: “Really? You were accepted at some other schools and you went to a place I just had to look up to see if that was even real? Why?” Main campus reputations carry over to their branch campuses like UPJ, and the University of Pittsburgh had quite a reputation. University of Pittsburgh was my first choice and when I visited they did not have a bachelor of science in Biochemistry, the major I wanted, but UPJ did. And before anyone looks, as of a month before I published this post they only have molecular biology with track on biochemistry. For those who do not know the difference, it is very subtle and would require a different post to explain.
UPJ had a bachelor of science in biochemistry. A tour guide told me I was probably over-qualified. I was fine with that. First, they were less expensive all around than the University of Pittsburgh, second, I had family close by, third, they provided me with their scholarship to make the costs even less. I believe I lowered the cost of college by 20-30% by this alone on top of over $1,000 provided by my other scholarships. Note though these scholarships are not awards as much as they are journeys. You will have to maintain GPA and a good reputation.
Hands down one of the most beneficial ways to save money for college is ROTC. One of the best jokes I have ever heard about free college in America is this: a protester says to a military personnel that they should be ashamed that they fight for a nation that does not provide free college. The military personnel rolls their eyes trying to fight the urge to tell the protester that the US government does provide free college.
However, it is not that easy. First, not everyone is built for military. And even if you are, there is a chance that someone in your family has reservations about a loved one serving across seas and risking their life doing so (not exactly an irrational fear). My mother expressed these concerns to my older brother when he joined the US Navy.
Second, you may have some physical limitations. Not just fitness, but allergies. I was thinking of being a SERE officer, and unfortunately my mild pollen and ragweed allergies on top of my allergies to poison ivy (yes even that) unqualified me. I do not blame them though.
However, the benefits are…bountiful. You can get a full-ride scholarship at some schools, stipends, and an allowance for textbooks. You do have to sign up for the military reserves for up to 12 years, which in and of itself has risks. However, I have heard many people say that they learned more in the first few weeks in the military than they ever did in school so even just serving in the military has its perks.
If you want to go to college, you need to stop thinking of how to get money to go to college and instead think of how to save money to go to college. Many savings are available to those who look for it and put effort into earning them.
But most importantly, when it comes to college, you are not just a customer, but a salesperson as well. You must put your best foot forward, give colleges reasons to try to have you at their school and among their alumni. Using this advice will help you go to college without breaking the bank and help you forge your wealth.