Paying for college is a daunting task today. College tuition seems to rise every year. Combine that with family incomes that are stagnant, and tuition costs seem intimidating indeed. Fortunately, there is a solution: Funding your education with college scholarship money can make paying for your higher education a whole lot less stressful.
And today, students and their parents can use as much help as possible to cover college costs. According to College Board, the average cost of a year at a private college now stands at more than $25,000. Public four-year universities are more reasonable, but even they are costly: It costs on average more than $6,500 a year for students attending one of these schools, according to College Board.
You may doubt that there’s a college scholarship out there for you. Perhaps you never excelled at any particular sport in high school. Maybe your grades were solid, but not outstanding. Maybe you were never a shining star in music, speech or debate.
Don’t panic. The odds are extremely good that there are still many valuable college scholarships for which you can qualify.
That’s because today’s college scholarships aren’t only awarded on the basis of academic or extracurricular excellence. Some organizations award scholarships to incoming college students who devoted a significant amount of time to volunteer efforts. Others pass on scholarships to students who maintained solid grades while working as a caddy at their local golf course. Still others award scholarships to students who are interested in pursuing a career in real estate, theater or law enforcement.
There are even some extremely strange scholarships available. The Klingon Language Institute, for instance, awards a $500 scholarship every year to encourage students to study languages. Klingon, of course, is a language spoken by Capt. Kirk’s greatest enemies in Star Trek. Loyola University in Chicago is home to the Zolp scholarship. This can be an easy one to earn depending on your last name: The scholarship is given to Catholic students attending the school who have the last name of “Zolp.” There are even scholarships available where the qualification is that you are left-handed!
Many scholarships not based on academic or athletic prowess don’t pay quite as much. Some may only provide enough money to cover a student’s room and board. But the good news is that students can apply for as many of these relatively unknown scholarships as they like. By picking up scholarship money from several different sources, students can help ease the financial burdens of paying for college.
Remember, scholarships, unlike loans, do not have to be paid back upon graduation. Remember, too, that a lot of scholarship money remains untouched each year simply because no students apply for them. That’s why it makes so much sense to think about funding your education with college scholarship money, by completing as many applications for scholarships as you can.