How to Pay for Your College Education with Scholarships

Posted by Shaun Morgan in College LifeAugust 10, 2022(Last Updated August 13, 2022)4 min read
Key Takeaways
  • A scholarship is a financial gift given to a student to pay for college education expenses.
  • Scholarships are the best way to get a college degree without having to pay out of pocket for it. 
  • Applying for scholarships can seem challenging, but it’s easier than most people think.
Are you ready to make some real money moves?

The cost of getting a college education is increasing steadily, and the need for higher education is only increasing. This is a huge problem for low-income students and will only increase the economic inequality many are experiencing in this country and the world. 


Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these higher education costs without getting an excessive amount of student loans. One of the best and least used options is scholarships.


The Importance of Scholarships


A scholarship is a financial gift given to a student to pay for college education expenses. This can be used to pay for tuition, academic textbooks, housing, food, and more, during your college enrollment. Simply put, scholarships are free money that can be used to get a college degree.


A plethora of companies and organizations give scholarships. You can receive scholarships from the school you are attending or from an employer or a local business. Scholarships are also available through organizations, charitable foundations, legacies, and local economic clubs such as the Rotary club. Scholarships are versatile, meaning you can receive a general scholarship or more niche scholarship that speaks to your skills like culinary arts or online gaming. 


Scholarships are an important part of any student’s financial arsenal because they are an underutilized financial power that can keep you out of debt and are available from many sources.


How to Pay for Your College Education with Scholarships


Students may think applying for scholarships can seem challenging, but it’s easier than most people think. A scholarship can help pay for college in many different ways, including: 


How to Pay for Your College Education with Scholarships


Reduce Tuition Cost 


First, scholarships can reduce your tuition. Schools often provide scholarships for academic achievement and athletic ability, among other things. Finding a scholarship that your college offers that you can qualify for is huge because it can reduce or eliminate your college tuition—not paying tuition cuts out the largest expense of attending college.


Easy to Apply for Scholarships


Many assume they won’t qualify for scholarship money, so they refuse to try. It’s important to know that $100 Million in scholarships goes unclaimed yearly. You would need to get 0.1% of all unclaimed scholarships to get $100,000 per year in scholarships, and you probably don’t need that much.


One student who was interviewed said, “I found out about a scholarship offered by a local bank for $2,000 cash. All you had to do was write a two-page essay. I wrote the essay, and I won. Come to find out, hardly anybody took the time to write an essay, so I basically won by default.” You can get scholarships if you just take the time to look for them.


Scholarships Can Help You Avoid Debt


Scholarships are a key part of a student’s strategy to stay out of debt. The biggest benefit of scholarships is that they are given without the expectation of repayment. When you get a scholarship, it is yours to keep.


Scholarships Can Help You Avoid Debt


Follow this general plan to avoid student loan debt:


Apply for FAFSA


Apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and claim grants. FAFSA allows you to take out government-backed loans, that is true, but more importantly, it qualifies you for government grants, which are basically scholarships from the government. You can claim the grants without taking out loans.


Apply for Scholarships


Apply for as many scholarships as you can. Worst case scenario, every scholarship you apply for turns you down, but the likelihood of that happening is very low, and free money is worth it. For example, if you spend ten hours applying to ten scholarships and get only one of them for $1,000, you’ve just made $100 an hour. 


You can get a college degree debt-free by keeping scholarships at the forefront of your mind.


Ways to Apply for Scholarships


There are several ways to apply for scholarships. Below are some of the options.


Tuition Assistance From Your School


You can often find out about tuition assistance on your school’s website or at your school’s admissions office. In addition, some schools have a financial aid office that can guide you in qualifying for tuition assistance. They may even help you find outside scholarship opportunities.


If you aren’t in college but are getting ready for it, consider talking to your high school counselor. School counselors are more than willing to share resources to help you attend college debt-free. 


Tuition Assistance From Your School


Local Businesses or Employers with Tuition Assistance


Many local businesses want to give back to the school they attended and offer scholarship programs. A simple google search for scholarships in your area may yield great results. You can also specifically choose to work for a business with tuition-reimbursement programs


Some of the more well-known businesses that offer this are big businesses like Walmart, Amazon, and Starbucks. However, researching companies that provide tuition-reimbursement programs can be highly beneficial. 


Recommended Read: These Four Employers Help Pay College Tuition Costs


Philanthropic Organizations


Many philanthropic organizations are giving away millions each year to help college students succeed while in school and after. For example, the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) helps minority students obtain the scholarships they need to attend college. UNCF also provides general scholarship funds for 37 private HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).


Additionally, Scholly is an online portal where you can find different scholarship opportunities and manage them all in one place.


The Money Wrap-Up


Scholarships are an incredibly powerful tool for getting through college debt free. But unfortunately, people turn to student loans almost as a reflex when they need money for school instead of searching for a scholarship. This can be a costly mistake. You can expect to pay an additional $2,500 on average for every $10,000 you take out in student loans.


When you take the time to apply for scholarships before you enter college, you can yield greater financial results. Even if you are a college student who has already taken out loans to attend school, you can still apply for scholarships to relieve future financial burdens. Your future self and your pockets will thank you.

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