When we, or our children, are applying to college, our thoughts usually turn to the thousands of dollars that an undergraduate education will cost. Add the cost of a Graduate degree to the cost of a Bachelor’s and we could be talking about half a million dollars!!!
With that in mind, we all would like to save a few dollars when possible, right? But you’re thinking… “My child has average grades. He just did ok on his ACT and SAT. She didn’t take many AP courses this year.”
It’s still possible to get Merit Scholarships (that have nothing to do with financial need)!!! And the best time to look is before you or your child even applies to college! Yes, that is correct! You will not qualify for merit scholarships if you do not apply to the schools that are offering them. So then what???
During your junior year of high school through to the time you submit your college applications, your job is to look for the money! Merit Scholarships from the college you attend will likely be the largest source for college savings. The key is finding those schools that will want you and offer you large savings! Perhaps you are in the top 25% of their applicants in terms of grades or test scores. Perhaps you are coming from a geographic location and they are enticing students outside of their locale to come to their school. Perhaps, your chosen major is one in which a university is trying to promote and fill spots.
Colleges are businesses. They have x number of seats to fill. They have goals to meet in terms of bettering their student body as well as filling those seats. You want to be the candidate that the school wants! You want to be offered Merit money that is FREE Money as part of a financial aid package.
Now, I am a firm believer that a chosen college or university has to be the right academic, social and financial fit. It’s not all strictly just about finances. But, by looking for the money, you may find schools that were not initially on your radar. Schools with good programs that you are currently unaware of. So keep your eyes and ears open. Use the internet. But start early. After the applications go out is too late.
Don’t leave money “on the table”. It is important to explore all avenues for college savings! Make sure to apply to find the merit money. Next, learn about Early Action vs Early Decision here.
This article was written by Vicki Vollweiler of College Financial Prep. If you need help with Finding Merit Scholarships, Financial Aid, Loans, Appeals and divorce situations, Vicki may be contacted by email at CollegeFinancialPrep@gmail.com or by phone 516-225-5224.
Vicki Vollweiler is a College Financial Aid Specialist (and a Certified Divorce Coach) helping people save money on the costs of college. She has two children, one in college and one in middle school. She loves helping people save money on college costs and making smart financial decisions. Vicki helps students and their families find their ideal university that will have the perfect academic, social and financial fit.