Getting free money for college sounds much easier than it is. Applying for scholarships can be time-consuming and daunting, especially since nothing is guaranteed.
But the risk is worth the reward. The more free money you get to pay for college, the less borrowed money, including student loans, you’ll have to pay back later.
Scholarships and grants are similar because you don’t need to pay either back after you graduate. But scholarships are merit-based, where you’re rewarded based on your academic performance. Grants are need-based — given out based on your and your family’s financial need.
Indiana students have some good options, especially when it comes to applying for help long before you enter school. Here are some of the best Indiana scholarships available.
1. 21st Century Scholars Program
If you commit to college in seventh or eighth grade and complete a program in high school, you could be eligible for the 21st Century Scholars Program.
Requirements: You’ll need to be an Indiana resident both when you apply and when you receive your money. Public or private school students in seventh or eighth grade are eligible to apply, while home-schooled students aren’t. There are income eligibility requirements.
Award amount: It varies.
How to apply: You can apply through 21st Century Scholars.
2. Mitch Daniels Early Graduation Scholarship
The Mitch Daniels Early Graduation Scholarship is a one-time award for high school students who have completed their diploma requirements by the end of 11th grade.
Requirements: You must have attended a public Indiana high school and graduated at the end of your junior year. Seniors aren’t eligible.
Award amount: You’ll receive $4,000.
How to apply: Along with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’ll need to apply through IN.gov.
3. Indiana Sheriffs’ Association scholarship
The Indiana Sheriffs’ Association scholarship is available for Indiana college students pursuing a career in law enforcement.
Requirements: You must be or plan to be a full-time student enrolled at an Indiana college or university. You need to be a member of the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association (a $24 fee) or a child or grandchild of a member. All applications need to be mailed. A transcript — either from high school or college, depending on your status — must be submitted with the application.
Award amount: It varies.
How to apply: Apply through the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association.
4. Indiana educational scholarships
There are educational scholarships available for Indiana students too. Here are a few for which you might qualify:
- William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to black and Hispanic students planning to teach in the state after graduation. You could get up to $4,000 annually.
Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship: This scholarship is open to students who agree to teach in the state for five years after graduation. You can earn up to $7,500 each year for up to four years.
Earline S. Rogers Student Teaching Stipend for Minorities: This is a stipend for black and Hispanic students looking to take part in student teaching or an internship. You could receive up to $4,000 in aid.
Student Teaching Stipend for High-Need Fields: This is another stipend for certain fields. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education defines a high-need field as middle or high school math, science, or special education.
More ways to get money beyond Indiana scholarships
If you’ve exhausted all your Indiana scholarship options, there are a few other ways to get money for school. Consider these alternatives:
- Grants: There are many Indiana grants available. Getting free money through grants and scholarships will reduce your need for student loans.
- Asking family: Your parents and other relatives might be willing to help you finance your college education. Even if it’s minimal, money from family is still a big help to your education costs.
- Applying for loans: Your FAFSA will have your federal loans assessed alongside your grants and scholarships. But you might need private student loans to cover extra costs.
If you’re not sure where to find money for school, scholarships are a great first step. Free money in the form of scholarships, grants, and family help is a good way to ensure financing for school without taking out loans.
But it’s OK if you need to take out student loans, either federal or private. Make sure you understand your loan terms, interest rate, and repayment plan before agreeing to anything. Loans for college should be an asset, not a detriment. Use them wisely.
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