Senior year is an important time in your student’s life, especially as they look toward the future. For many students, this is the time when college starts to get real for them — including college costs.
One great way to pay for college is with scholarships. “It’s free money,” says Richard Sorenson, president of Falcon Management, which runs Tuition Funding Sources (TFS), a database of over 7 million scholarships. “College is expensive, and scholarships provide a way to alleviate some or all of that expense. Every student should apply for scholarships.”
Though your senior should take the lead in the search, there are several things you can do to help:
- Help them determine where to search: Beginning a scholarship search can be confusing if your student doesn’t know quite where to start. Sorenson says their first stop should be a high school guidance department or the financial aid office of your future college, if you know it. The professionals there will be able to direct you to relevant or college-specific resources and scholarships.
Your student’s next stop is online, to an online scholarship database like TFS. “Online search engines can direct them to all the scholarships out there — and there are a lot of them.” Use advanced filters to find scholarships that your student specifically qualifies for — for example, because of their major or school.
- Get organized: Applying for more scholarships means more opportunity for your student to get as much free money as possible, but it can also lead to confusion if they don’t stay organized. As a parent, this is the perfect place to lend a hand. Sorenson suggests recommending they keep a spreadsheet of scholarships that includes deadlines and requirements for each. This way they can stay on top of their applications at a glance.
- It’s all about the details: Part of getting organized with the application process means paying attention to all the details, no matter how small. Common mistakes like not adhering to a specific word count or forgetting to proofread an essay could lead to your student’s application being rendered ineligible. Make sure they read through every guideline before submitting. Have a trusted third party read over the application before they send it in, whether that person is you or a guidance counselor.