Planning to Get Financial Aid Scholarships in College

by ETF Base on January 6, 2018

The economic downturn has brought incredible hardships to many people. However, as I walk around my campus, it is hard for me to imagine a person struggling more with these hardships than students– especially Californian students. With financial aid at an all time low and tuition costs rising students are at a serious disadvantage.

California, in particular, has substantially slashed is funding to community colleges, CSU’s, and UC’s. So much so that all state funding towards higher education is being cut by 20 percent; student fees are being raised by 10 percent; and financial aid from universities is being slashed. Mark Yudof, infamously just proposed a ten thousand dollar spike in tuition cost. These new developments are both daunting and dangerous towards a student’s financial stability currently and in the future. However despite these daunting new developments, I have managed to stay afloat of both my finances and my schoolwork. Here is how.

Before I begin, keep in mind I come from a middle class family. That being said, while I am not a child of a low income family, my parents are far from being putting me through college in full. Furthermore, my parents are also burdened with the task of putting my sister through the most expensive medical school in the nation.So by no means is affording an education, especially in this economy, is an easy task. Yet, I stay afloat through financial aid from outside agencies.

Most middle class families, like mine, do not receive financial aid from schools. This puts the middle class families at a disadvantage because too often do those families feel they are left to fend for themselves. What most families do not realize, is that when it comes to education you are never expected to pay for it alone. I paid around $22 dollars my freshman year in college, more than half of it came from someone other than me or my family. Considering I was not offered an academic or athletic scholarship from my college, that is pretty remarkable–yet it is not impossible. All it requires is a little bit of hard work.

There are outside agencies who award financial aid in every single town, small or big. In fact, I would go as far to say there are an abundance of them. As a student, these outside agencies represent a critical role in my financial security. However, by no means did I receive a free lunch. Most high schools have a list of scholarships being offered in the local town. Some of these financial aid scholarships are as general as “Must have a 2.0 GPA”, others are as specific as “must be a Hispanic female in the chess club”.

Generally the more specific scholarships have less money but are easier to get; the more general financial aid scholarships are generally the big name ones with big money conversely however, these are harder to get. I applied to both, and got both– not because I was an outstanding student or athlete but because I applied a lot. A general rule thumb for an average, non-involved student, is every ten scholarships you apply to, you get one. You can increase your chances by sending a cover letter along with your scholarship. Make sure that you figure out the name of who to address your letter to, as this shows that you’re a serious applicant who will take the time to do the research.

The more you have going for you–good grades, extra circulars, community service–the better those chances get. I do realize, students have lives and cannot sit writing scholarship essays all day for months. I was in the same boat. What I realized however, is that often times I could use the same essays for different financial aid scholarships, and if not, I would just have to tweak it a bit. Out of the 20 scholarships I applied for, I wrote eight basic essays. If any one is counting, that is 8 essays for over 15 thousand in financial aid in one year– 7 thousand of which is renewable over 4 years. That is 36 thousand in financial aid for 8 measly essays– it was the best paying job I have ever had.

The lesson in all of this simple. Milk your status as a student for all its worth. It sounds dubious, but it is not, because agencies expect you to milk them dry of their offerings. If they didn’t, they would not offer opportunities to students. Personally, I milked my status as a student through financial aid, however bear in mind there are other ways to take advantage of being students.

Colleges, high schools, and local business often have specific jobs geared towards students. Community organizations often give away student supplies or accessories. The point is, there are a lot of people out there willing to spend time, money, or material on students, and as a student in high school or college it is your job to seek them out. Not only is it financially responsible to seek out financial aid, or any aid in general, but it puts you on track to be financially stable in the short and long term future–no matter what the circumstances.

 

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