Welcome our guest blogger today, Dr. Andrea Johnson. Dr. Andrea Johnson is the owner of ANJ Consulting Services. She is dedicated to helping individuals and business owners develop solutions to their financial problems. Dr. Johnson has over 15 years of experience working in nonprofit agencies, managing youth programs, and working with community organizations. She has also served as a faculty member at several universities. Dr. Johnson is the author of two books “Step by Step: How to Start A For-Profit Business” and “Step by Step: How to Start A Nonprofit Business”.
How To Save Thousands on College Tuition for Your Child
There are many misconceptions when it comes to the sources that exist to pay for college. I will address some of those misconceptions as well as share some of the sources that are commonly overlooked.
Misconception #1: It is too Early to Start Planning for College
One of the most common misconceptions that I have heard is “my child doesn’t need to start planning for college until the 12th grade”. Students should actually start planning for college no later than the end of their junior year of high school. During their senior year, many students attempt to cram into their already busy schedules applying to colleges, taking the SAT, ACT, or both, applying for scholarships, and participating in extracurricular activities. This is in addition to the responsibilities that come along with their course schedules. Parents should start preparing their children for college as early as the seventh grade, to avoid the additional stress. As a matter of fact, there are scholarship opportunities and college preparation programs that students can begin applying for while they are in middle school.
Misconception #2: The FAFSA is the Only Source Available to Pay for College
Another misconception is that completing the FAFSA (The Free Application for Student Aid) is the only source of financial aid available. Required information on the FAFSA includes, but is not limited to, the income of the parents, as well as the income of the students (if applicable). The decision on how much a student receives in Pell grants, state incentive grants, work study, and student loans is determined by the information provided on the FAFSA.
Misconception #3: We Make Too Much Money to Qualify for Scholarships
Many parents feel that if they do not qualify for financial aid from the federal government, as a result of their income, that their children will have to apply for loans to pay for college. However, there are many scholarships that exist that are not concerned with the income level of families. Some of the scholarships available are also not concerned with a student’s GPA.
Now that I have addressed some of the common misconceptions, I will briefly discuss some of the scholarship opportunities that exist, but that are commonly overlooked.
School websites. Guidance counselors at many schools will post scholarship opportunities on their school’s website, as well as email these opportunities to students. Parents should also visit these websites in order to learn about the scholarships opportunities that are available for their children.
Places of employment, for parents and children. Companies such as Subway and Starbucks are just a few of the places that have scholarships for their employees. Parents as well as students should find out if their place of employment offers scholarships.
Banks. Make sure to ask your bank(s) if they have scholarship opportunities for students. Many banks award scholarships to students in the communities where their branches are located.
Fastweb. Fastweb is one of my favorite sites. It is a database that matches students with scholarship opportunities based off of the information that they complete in their profile. It is one of the easiest ways to locate scholarship opportunities. Students can also set up email alerts so that they are contacted daily about opportunities.
Places of worship. I grew up in the United Methodist Church, and as a result of being a member, I applied for and received scholarships offered by the United Methodist conference. Make sure to check with the leader of your place of worship, or your local conference (if applicable) about scholarships offered to members.
Books. Books should not be overlooked when searching for scholarships. Sometimes, information written in a book can change after a book has been published. However, the information can always be checked for accuracy by conducting an internet search.
It is important to remember that it is possible for students to attend college for free. The key is to start the application process as early as possible in order to take advantage of the opportunities that exist.
For more information you can find Dr. Andrea Johnson on the following:
YouTube: Dr. Andrea N. Johnson (free webinars on college planning for undergraduate, current college students & graduate students, managing student loan debt, and managing credit).