If you’re a parent looking for ways to pay for college without taking out student loans, convince your child to apply for scholarships.
Scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for college without ruining your finances. And they don’t need to be repaid. You can find scholarship opportunities and free money for college from your state, your employer, or philanthropic organizations.
Here are four ways you can encourage your student to start applying for scholarships.
1. Explain the benefits
For starters, explain to your child that every scholarship they earn means less money they’ll have to borrow.
Walk them through this scenario: Instead of $5,000 worth of scholarships for their freshman year, they’re forced to take out a $5,000 student loan. With a 10-year repayment term and 6.00% interest rate, they’ll be looking at repaying $6,661, according to our student loan payment calculator.
Show your child other ways they could benefit. A big scholarship could help them afford a school that would otherwise be out of their reach, for example. It could also strengthen their resume if they hope to land a summer internship.
To ensure your student understands the potential benefits, share real-life experiences. You might tell the story of how you won scholarships, or how you regret not applying for more.
You could also share another student’s scholarship success story, such as the young woman who won $50,000-plus to attend her dream school.
2. Offer your help
Scholarships do require a lot of legwork, from finding the opportunities to completing the applications. Also, unlike grants, scholarships are usually merit-based.
Because applying for scholarships can seem like a daunting task, offer your student the guidance they need to start.
Unless your child is near their high school graduation, you don’t necessarily have to prioritize scholarships by deadline. You could instead prioritize opportunities by:
Length of application: You and your child can start with the longest applications, such as those that call for personal essays and recommendation letters. Then, reuse those materials in other applications.
Financial award amount: You and your child might initially focus on scholarships with larger dollar amounts. That way, your child can cover their cost of attendance quickly.
Personal interests: Your child could apply for scholarships that reward students like them. If your student is an aspiring painter, for example, they can apply for art scholarships first.
Set up a spreadsheet with your student so that you can both track progress.
They could even treat applying for scholarships as a weekly homework assignment. If your student equates scholarship applications with routine school assignments, they might be more likely to make time for them.
At some point, you’ll want to take the training wheels off and empower your student to take the reins. But make them aware that you’re always happy to help them brainstorm or troubleshoot. If you don’t feel equipped to be their scholarship helper, enlist the assistance of their high school guidance counselor.
3. Motivate your child with rewards
After applying for lots of scholarships with no immediate rewards, your child might suffer from burnout. At this point, you might want to consider motivating them with material rewards. Some possible incentives include:
Matching every dollar they earn via scholarship awards
Allowing them to skip chores
Purchasing an item on their wish list, such as a new phone
Ensure that the rewards are tied to winning scholarships, not applying for them. That’ll inspire your student to improve their scholarship applications instead of increasing their volume.
4. Boost your child’s spirits
Offering short-term rewards will only get you so far. It’s likely that your student will still have times when they don’t want to put in the effort. Maybe they’ve become disappointed with their lack of success.
Here’s where your experience as a parent will help the most. Boost their spirits by addressing their concerns.
You could tell them the story of Shay Spivey, a single mother who applied for 67 scholarships in her first year of hunting for gift aid. Spivey used the experience to improve her future applications. And over the next four years, she won about $100,000 worth of scholarships.
If your student thinks they’re not winning scholarships because they have average grades, review all the other ways to win scholarships. They can stand out for their volunteering experiences, athletic achievements, or unusual skills or hobbies.
Point out what they’ve done well in and out of school. And pat them on the back when they highlight these successes on scholarship applications.
How scholarships fit in with other ways to pay for college
If you and your student are going to prioritize applying for scholarships, it’ll help to know how they fit into paying for college.
On Oct. 1 of your student’s final year of high school, they’ll complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The paperwork will call for your family’s financial information, such as income tax returns.
Then, the FAFSA will pump out an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is the estimated amount that you could afford to put toward your student’s cost of attendance. You could calculate your EFC in advance using this helpful tool from the College Board.
Your EFC is important because it will determine how much need-based aid your student will be offered on college award letters from prospective schools. The letters will detail the amount of federal aid your child can receive in the form of grants, work-study opportunities, and loans. It’s possible that schools will offer your student a scholarship on their award letters.
Be your student’s counselor at home
Your child will have professional help while they figure out all the ways to pay for college. From their high school counselor to their college’s financial aid office, there’ll be adults in their ear offering scholarship help.
But you can strengthen your family’s college plan by being their initial support system. Offer advice and motivation to help your student win scholarships.
If your teen is already approaching their last year of high school, have them by your side when you review our complete guide to scholarships for seniors.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 11/1/2018. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.94% – 12.78%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.04% – 13.04%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.34% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 10.98%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 13.13%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.92% – 10.01%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.72% – 9.68%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.26% – 12.13%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|