Where’s the Money?

Scholarship Resources for Students

Caroline Foley, Staff Writer

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As our seniors prepare to take on college this coming fall, one nagging issue can quickly sour the process: paying for said college experience.

It’s no secret that the rates charged by universities both public and private are absurdly high, but a shocking sticker price should not deter students from pursuing a degree. A multitude of resources available to high school students can bring the price of attending college down to a more reasonable number.

First, you’ll want to know about the different types of financial aid available.

BigFuture, a free financial planning resource available through the College Board, explains the difference between scholarships and grants (although the terms are often used interchangeably, there is an important difference).

Most of the time, scholarships are merit based. This means that they are awarded to students with certain qualities, such as proven academic or athletic ability. Many scholarships have rules — maintaining a certain GPA, for example — that you have to follow to continue receiving aid. On the other hand, most grants are need based. This means that they are usually awarded based on your or your family’s financial situation.

The first step for most students searching for financial aid is completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Through the FAFSA, the government awards federal grants, loans, and work-study funds to students demonstrating financial need. Many colleges also utilize the FAFSA to award money to students.

While the FAFSA is useful for students demonstrating significant financial need, undertaking the debt of a college education can be a struggle for any student or family, regardless of socioeconomic background. For students who qualify for little or no government aid, private and merit scholarships can also ease financial concerns.

A great place to begin searching for merit scholarships and grants is located right here at Seneca Valley. The guidance office regularly updates the scholarships list available to students through Family Connections, which features a compilation of scholarships both local and national and of a range of dollar amounts.

Numerous online resources can also be used to personalize scholarship searches for each student.

The College Board’s custom scholarship search (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship-search),

Peterson’s (https://www.petersons.com/college-search/scholarship-search.aspx),

Chegg (https://www.chegg.com/scholarships#),

Cappex (https://www.cappex.com/scholarships),

and Fastweb (http://www.fastweb.com/) each offer thousands of scholarship opportunities and can be found at the corresponding link. Each service offers a variation of similar plug-in criteria used to match a student with a list of scholarships he or she is eligible to apply for.

Whether through the government or a private source, there is money available for students who know where to look for it.

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