Many college students will face a harsh financial reality within the next few months: Scholarships and grants that made the current year affordable will soon come to an end. Some awards are only intended to be applied to the first year of college; others carry renewal requirements, such as a minimum GPA or a specific major, that go unmet.
If fewer scholarship and grant funds will be available to you or your student next year, start planning now to make up the shortfall. Here are three ways students may replace non-renewable scholarships.
1. Find new scholarships.
Although many scholarships are available to freshmen, you may be able to find scholarships for upperclassmen with a little effort.
- If you have settled on a major, start with your academic department or college. Search the department website, visit the departmental office and talk to your academic adviser.
- Stop in the campus financial aid office and see what scholarships are offered to students who have your academic and extracurricular interests.
- Check with professional and pre-professional organizations about programs to help students in your intended career field.
- Search online databases for upperclassmen scholarships. Certain scholarships like those offered by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and the Morris K. Udall Foundation are only for upperclassmen, while others allow applicants of any undergraduate level.
- Look for local and small scholarships. A lot of students tend to compete for national and large scholarships. You may have better luck standing out among applicants for smaller and local awards.
2. Increase earnings.
If you are unable to earn new scholarships, you may want to consider adding work hours.
- During the school year, you may be able to find positions on or near campus that allow you to prepare for your intended career while earning money. Look for jobs as a teaching assistant, tutor or research assistant.
- Resident Assistants in the dorms may qualify for reduced room and board costs, while other campus positions may allow you to study during slow times. Businesses near campus often hire college students during the academic year as well. Even part-time positions can pay well over time.
- Over breaks, you can work more hours to increase income. Summer research on campus or for private, nonprofit and government organizations can help you create career connections.
- If you need an internship to meet graduation requirements, look for paid positions that will offset your tuition, housing and transportation costs. Some colleges and organizations also offer stipends to help students who have an unpaid internship or co-op.
3. Lower costs.
Especially in combination with increased earnings, lower costs can help you make up for the loss of non-renewed scholarships.
- Consider living off campus. Carefully weigh the cost for paying rent (most leases run a full year instead of the 10-month academic term), furnishings, utilities, groceries and transportation against room and board rates to determine if moving will save you money.
- Even small changes can help you save a large amount of money if you are consistent and diligent.
- Plan ahead when purchasing furnishings, supplies and books to save. Make sure you take advantage of the least expensive option that will allow you to succeed.
- Stick to a budget to cut costs year-round. Know where you can save the most money with a little effort.