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College Admissions: 9 Scholarships Anyone Can Apply For

Monday, October 28, 2013

 

Many families wonder about private scholarships--sources of funding for college that are not offered by the federal government or colleges. Advertisements on the Internet make it seem as if there are abundant

untapped private scholarships to fund education. And while it is true that there are private scholarships available for undergrads, they are few, far between and involve a LOT of red tape.

Cover all the bases first

Before we discuss private scholarships, it’s important to point out that the largest source of financial aid is at the college and federal levels. Your BEST chance for need based and merit aid is to file the forms each college requires by the due dates. These forms usually include FAFSA or the CSS Profile. Students who need aid should also plan their college list strategically by understanding the percent of students receiving need and merit based at each of their targeted colleges. There are MANY colleges in the U. S. that will meet 90% or more of need, and some will even guarantee to meet 100% of need. The second area to research is which colleges on your list offer no merit aid and which offer generous merit aid. Sites like www.collegedata.com will also list the percentage of students at each college receiving aid. Then, you should check each college website on your list for additional scholarships that have separate application requirements. Once you have exhausted those options, check your state’s education website to understand what state level scholarships and loans are available, and ask your guidance office about scholarships specific to graduates of your high school. Finally, check employee websites where you work for scholarships—many have them.

Searching for the unicorn

Still coming up dry? Then it’s time to go hunting for the elusive unicorn: the private scholarship. I call it a unicorn because although private scholarships are often talked about, it’s hard to find anyone you know who has truly financed a large portion of their college education that way. The reality is that most private scholarships are in the $500-$1000 range. Many are also targeted for specific areas of study, minority groups or residential locations. Competition is fierce, and you must report any outside scholarship to your college financial aid office. Then, in many cases, your aid is reduced by that amount. So, it can be a shell game. However, for those students caught in the gap of not qualifying for need based aid, who don’t get merit aid, private scholarships can be the only option. Here are a few that apply to a wide range of students and have higher dollar rewards.

9 private scholarships open to anyone

The Davidson Institute  The Davidson Fellows Scholarship awards $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people, 18 and under, who have completed a significant piece of work. Application categories are Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Literature, Music, Philosophy and Outside the Box.

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest awards scholarships of $500-$10,000 to students who write a compelling essay on how an elected official risked his or her career to take a stand based on the dictates of conscience, rather than the dictates of polls.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program awards 50 scholarships of $20,000 and 200 scholarships of $10,000 each year to students with impressive academic and extra-curricular credentials.

The College Prowler “No Essay Contest” awards $2000 to a student in a random drawing every month, if you register on the site.

Nordstrom awards 80 scholarships of $10,000 over 4 years to students in states with store locations. Applicants must have a 2.7 GPA or above, participate in community service and be applying for financial aid at their college.

Antique Trader holds a “Big Dig” essay contest each year and awards a $3000 scholarship to the winner.

Ayn Rand Novels gives 600 scholarships each year to winners of their essay contest.

Zinch gives away a $1000 scholarship each week in their 3 Sentence Essay Contest.

Dunkin Donuts awards over $2 million in scholarships each year to students in areas where they have franchises.

Avoiding scams

Remember when you are searching for private scholarships that you should NEVER pay a website or individual to “find” you private scholarships. Most are not scrupulous and deliver very little. Some of the best scholarship search engines are free at www.fastweb.com , www.collegeboard.com, and www.cappex.com.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

 

Related Slideshow: College Board Reports - New England States by the Data

Reports released by the College Board, "Trends in College Pricing 2013," and "Trends in Student Aid", included a number of national data points regarding college affordability.  Here, see how the New Engand states stacked up agains each other.

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Students enrolling

Percentage of all youths entering postsecondary education

Connecticut: 56%

New Hampshire: 53%

Rhode Island 52%

Massachusetts: 51%

Maine: 45%

Vermont: 43%

US average 48%

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In-State Tuitions

Average 2013-14 in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions

New Hampshire: $14,665  

Vermont: $13,958  

Rhode Island: $10,992  

Massachusetts: $10,792  

Connecticut: $10,206  

Maine: $3,391

US Average: $8,893

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Out-of-State Tuitions

Average 2013-14 out-of-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions

Vermont: $34,055

Rhode Island: $26,646

Connecticut: $26,365  

New Hamprshire: $24,987  

Massachusetts: $23,516  

Maine: $23,007

US average: $22,203

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State Appropriations

State Appropriations for Higher Education per Full-Time Equivalent Student 

Connecticut: $10,475  

Maine: $7,183  

Massachusetts: $6,410  

Rhode Island $5,162  

Vermont: $4,131  

New Hampshire: $2,482

US Average: $6,646

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Increase in Enrollment

Percentage increases in total full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment in public degree-granting institutions between 2001 and 2011

Vermont: 35%

Connecticut: 29%
 
New Hampshire 26%
 
Massachusetts 26%  
 
Maine 20%
 
Rhode Island: 16%  

US average: 27%

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Student Grant Aid

In 2011-12, state grant aid per full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate student ranged from under $200 (in 2012 dollars) in 12 states to over $1,000 in 10 states.

Vermont: $580  

Connecticut: $380  

Maine $320  

Massachusetts: $280

Rhode Island $200

New Hampshire: 0

US average $670

 
 

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