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Free Money for College

The price of attending college has steadily increased in recent years. Currently, the average annual cost of attending a four-year public institution is more than $20,000, and the average student graduates with an amount of student loan debt. While college is an important investment, finding ways to pay for college is a top priority for students who do not have a large college savings fund. Luckily, there are thousands of scholarships, loans, and grant opportunities to help students pay for college. While some of these awards are competitive, it is well worth the effort to apply for as many funding opportunities as possible. Here are some resources to help you find scholarships and grants for college.

Scholarship Sites

With a quick web search, it’s not difficult to find a number of sites to help you find scholarships.  Many of these sites even offer scholarships of their own.  ScholarhshipPoints is one of these sites.  Not only will you find information to help you locate and successfully apply for scholarships.  The website also offers 3 monthly scholarships for $1000 and 1 quarterly $10,000 scholarship.  Students only need to complete some simple activities to earn points that can be used as entries in the either the monthly or the quarterly scholarship giveaways.

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Government Grants

Federal, state, and local governments are the leading source of grants for college students. The most extensive federal grant program is the Pell Grant program, which provides funding to students with financial needs. To qualify for a Pell Grant, you need to submit an online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA requires students to input information regarding family finances to determine grant eligibility.  Other federal grant options include:

  • FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants)
  • TEACH Grants (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants)
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Military Service Grants

Many states also provide grants to students with financial need who are attending local public and private universities. During the 2018-2019 school, the average college student received $1,000 in state grants. Many states are currently expanding their grant options to make college more affordable. For instance, the Excelsior program provides New York college students with up to $5,500 in grant money per academic year.

City and county governments also provide free money to help students pay for college. Most of these opportunities are advertised through local high schools. Local grant and scholarship options are often less competitive than national awards and can help fill critical funding gaps.

Employer-Sponsored Education

Employer-sponsored scholarship programs offer financial assistance specifically to employees or the spouses or dependents of employees. It is estimated that approximately 25% of companies provide some type of tuition assistance to employees. Some companies offer benefits in the form of tuition reimbursement, while others provide scholarships or student loan repayment options for employees with student loan debt.

To make sure you’re not missing out on employer-sponsored programs, ask your parents about scholarships that are available through their jobs. Further, many companies that employ young people, including McDonalds and Starbucks, offer scholarship opportunities.

Scholarships for Volunteering

Many local volunteer organizations offer scholarship opportunities to people who volunteer for a specific cause. For instance, the U.S. Peace Corps provides scholarships to returning volunteers at almost 100 participating universities for graduate study. The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award program also provides a tuition award to volunteers who complete 12 months of service with the organization. The award can be used for tuition or to repay student loans. Many educational institutions match AmeriCorps awards, which were worth more than $6000  in the 2020-2021 academic year.

Religious Scholarships

Churches and other religious organizations can be great scholarship resources. For instance, the United Methodist Church offers money for college through numerous scholarship programs. While some scholarships are only open to church members, other awards are open to all students. Further, the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ offer various financial awards for students.

Professional Associations 

Almost every industry has an affiliated professional organization. Membership is typically open to anyone, regardless of occupation status. If you decide to join a certain professional association, you may qualify for financial assistance to subsidize your college education. Most scholarships are limited to association members and their dependents, increasing your chances of winning an award. A few of the professional associations that offer scholarship opportunities include:

  • The American Bar Association
  • The American Marketing Foundation
  • The National Society of Professional Engineers
  • The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association

This is not a comprehensive list of professional organizations that provide scholarships. Check for associations that align with your field of study and ask your parents if they belong to any associations or labor unions.

Scholarships from Fortune 500 Companies

Many large businesses, including Walmart, Google, and Target, offer high-achieving high school seniors scholarships. You do not have to be affiliated with the organization to apply for many of these awards. While these scholarships are competitive, they can pay off big time if you are selected. For instance, Coca-Cola awards $20,000 to 150 students each year.

Financial Institutions 

Many national and local financial intuitions offer financial assistance for college students. Bank of America, SunTrust, and Citigroup are some of the major national banks that provide scholarships. These awards are competitive and typically require top grades and test scores to qualify. However, many smaller credit unions often offer prizes that are limited to local residents.  An award of $500 might not seem like a lot, but multiple small scholarship awards quickly add up.

Advocacy Groups 

Multiple advocacy groups offer financial assistance for students who support specific causes or to facilitate college enrollments by people with specific traits. For instance, there are scholarships open specifically to women, members of certain minority groups, and immigrants. Check to see if an advocacy group aligns with your background that can help with college funding.

Health Organizations

If you have a diagnosed medical issue, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance from a health organization or philanthropic organization. For instance, students with heart conditions or diabetes often qualify for scholarships through national health advocacy organizations.

Military Organizations 

Military organizations offer several scholarship and financial aid opportunities to members and their families. Consider joining your local ROTC if you are looking for scholarship opportunities and leadership training. ROTC requires a service commitment, but participants can receive significant financial awards to help pay for their college education, depending on the academic institution. ROTC scholarships are generally available through the Air Force, Navy, and the Army.

Further, there are several education benefits for those who have already served in the military. Some opportunities are also available to the children or spouses of veterans. Some of the scholarships available to veterans include:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Educational Assistance for Members of the Reserve
  • Post-Vietnam Veterans’ Assistance Program Reserve
  • Educational Assistance Program
  • All-Volunteer Force Educational Assistance Program

There are also multiple veterans service organizations that offer scholarship opportunities. Organizations including the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars provide financial assistance for veterans and other community members.

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