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According to the College Board, “the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.”

So, as high school seniors all across the country are eagerly filling out college admissions applications, many parents are wondering, “How do I pay for all of this?”

The answer? Scholarships!

And, if a student is not an Olympic-bound athlete, Julliard-worthy violinist or member of Mensa, there are still many scholarships available for all different types of students, from all areas of the country, with a wide variety of interests and experiences.

How students can organize their scholarship search

All of those scholarship opportunities are exciting, but can be overwhelming, too. So, to get students organized, we’ve found the best scholarship tools available, below.

www.fastweb.com – create a profile and let fastweb do the research for you

www.cashcourse.org – information for college students to stay financially informed

www.cksf.org – educational & scholarship opportunities for students of all levels

www.cappex.com – free website where you learn which colleges want you, before you apply

www.scholarships.com – free college scholarship search and financial aid information

www.scholarshipamerica.org – provides information and resources for your scholarship search

www.brokescholar.com – find scholarships and use tools to stay organized and make the process easier

www.knowhow2go.org – complete information on college prep, whether in middle school or seniors

www.hsf.net – largest provider of college financial aid for Latino students

www.thurgoodmarshallfund.net – provide scholarships, programmatic and capacity building support to the 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

www.gmsp.org – The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program provides outstanding low income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose

www.apiasf.org/scholarship_apiasf.html – the nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI)

www.collegefund.org – provides Native students with scholarships and financial support for the nation’s 33 accredited tribal colleges and universities

www.dellscholars.org – Dell Scholars Program recognizes academic potential and determination in students that have a definite need for financial assistance

www.uncf.org – awards 10,000 students each year through 400 scholarship and internship programs so that students from low- and moderate-income families can afford college tuition, books and room and board

How to WIN College Scholarships

Finished? So, now you have a file folder stuffed to overflowing with information sheets, dates, requirements and more. Get organized! Create an Excel spreadsheet, organized by due date, to keep you on track. Filling out a scholarship form is a moot point if you miss the deadline, so keeping on top of the process is the key.

Also, many scholarships require advance work – from reading a book and then writing an essay based on the work, to procuring letters of reference (sometimes several), to writing stand-alone essays on such topics as “If you had a superpower, what would it be?” (Yes, this is a real prompt.) But again, advance planning is necessary, so a detailed list by date is crucial.

You can also use the spreadsheet to track your progress is securing scholarships. What is your return rate and how can you improve it? The “secret” to winning scholarships is really no secret at all. Most applications require personal data, often transcripts, letters of recommendation, or proof of involvement in a project, but the key to getting your application to the top of the pile, is unquestionably the quality of the essay.

So, how can your student make their essay stand out? Revise, revise, revise! This is where the advance planning comes in handy. If an essay is written on the day before it is due, there is no time to edit. Have your student ask a trusted teacher, mentor, parent, or tutor to read and critique. Remember, they can’t write the essay, but can certainly give constructive comments regarding word choice, grammar, and suggest important points that may have been missed.

A final word about scholarships. Beware of scams! Anyone who says that they can guarantee you a scholarship is not telling the truth. With help, you can increase your students’ chances of success by being organized, by meeting deadlines, by checking and rechecking that each element required is enclosed in the application packet, and of course, by submitting the best essay possible. But, no one can guarantee a scholarship. If any group or organization asks for a fee to submit a “guaranteed scholarship” – run!

About Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc.

Back to Basics Learning Dynamics offers over 125 unique educational services, the widest array of educational options in the tri-state area including: 1-on-1 tutoring in over 60 subjects, translating and interpreting in 21 languages, speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavior specialists, reading specialists, ELL teachers, homebound services, and psycho-educational testing. In addition, Back to Basics offers exceptional, 1-on-1 test prep for tests including the SAT, PSAT, SAT II, ACT, GRE, PRAXIS, GED, and HSEE. Back to Basics also offers summer school, original credit, and credit recovery, plus unique enrichment options and professional development. And, Back to Basics operates Delaware’s only Department of Education-approved, 1-on-1 K-12 Private School in Wilmington, Delaware.

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