Know the Basics of Scholarships
Every year, thousands of dollars in scholarship money is not used because students did not apply for scholarships they are qualified for. Many students feel that scholarships are only awarded to seniors with the highest GPA or college admission test scores. While those factors are important for both college admissions and academic scholarships, a wide range of scholarships are available to students which are based upon interests, participation in extra-curricular activities and/or athletics, religion, organizations that they or their parents may belong to, career interest areas, fine arts, parents’ employment, and many other specialty areas.
There are many excellent scholarship searches available to students; however, it is important to remember that students and their families should never pay for a scholarship search to avoid getting caught in the many scholarship scams that occur on an annual basis. If a scholarship opportunity sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
The LSW Counseling Center recommends using ScholarshipQuest when searching for scholarships associated with organizations in Lincoln, Southeast Nebraska, or the state of Nebraska. Students and families may also schedule an appointment with R.J. Vega, EducationQuest College Planning|Financial Aid Specialist, for free assistance with college planning, scholarships, financial aid (including filing the FAFSA).
How Financial Aid Works
The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $120 billion in financial aid to help pay for college or career school each year. For most students planning to attend college or career school, financial aid is essential. Federal student aid comes from the federal government— specifically, the U.S. Department of Education. It’s money that helps a student pay for education expenses at a college, career school, or graduate school. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for a computer and for dependent care.
There are three main categories of federal student aid:
- Grant—Grant money usually doesn’t have to be repaid. Most U.S. Department of Education grants are based on a student’s financial need.
- Work-study—Work-study money is earned by a student through a job on or near campus while attending school and does not have to be repaid.
- Loan—Loan money must be repaid with interest.
The U.S. Department of Education is the main source of financial aid for college, but it isn’t the only source.
- Visit StudentAid.gov to find out about education funding available from other federal agencies.
- Visit Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education to find out about money available from state government.
- Visit the websites of your top colleges or ask their financial aid office about money the school offers its students.