Cutting College Costs

College is a frightfully expensive proposition.  But families manage to overcome the challenge.  Sure, the student may be saddled with some student loans, but that may provide him or her with an added incentive to find a job after graduation.  

Scholarships to the (partial) rescue.  One too often overlooked way to reduce college costs is to search out college scholarships.  A multitude of scholarship opportunities exists.  Private scholarships, i.e., those offered by nonacademic organizations, for academic, athletic, and leadership achievement, are very common. Parents and students should also consider any military, company, union, trade, civic, religious, or ethnic affiliations they have that could lead to other sources of funds.  Leave no stone unturned.  Particularly diligent families have been able to cobble together several small scholarships, $500 here and $1,000 there, to reduce the cost of college.  Every little bit helps, and many scholarships are not granted for lack of qualified candidates, or, more likely, for lack of any applicants since no one knew of the scholarship.  Your child doesn't have to excel at something to win a scholarship.  Thousands are available for young people who have just about any interest or ambition.  Thus, scholarships are available for hobbyists, community volunteers, and those seeking to major in a particular subject.  

A one-two punch.  When you begin to search for scholarships, take a two-pronged approach:

  1. Look for scholarships in your community.  The first place to look is in your local community.  Civic groups, businesses, and churches often have small scholarships for townies.
  2. Research scholarships nationwide.  There are seemingly several trillion scholarships available nationwide, but the Internet can help you manage the search.  You shouldn't have to pay a fee for a search.  If you do, make sure it's a legitimate college scholarship search service.     

Someone has to receive these scholarships.  You might as well get your share, and your student should take the lead in the research effort.  In so doing, he or she will receive a valuable lesson in financial responsibility as well.