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College Costs How Much?!: Navigating the Scholarship Search

Posted By Meredith Crawford

By Meredith Crawford


According to the College Board, the average student at a public four-year college will pay $8,655 for in-state tuition and fees and $21,706 for out-of-state tuition and fees. Students who opt for private four-year colleges are looking at an average price tag of $29,056. Not only are these just the average figures, but they also don’t include additional costs for essentials like housing, food, books, and food.


What’s more, students vying for admission to some of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges are in for even more sticker shock.


The title of most expensive college in the USA goes to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. In 2012-’13, tuition, room, and board at the small liberal arts college topped out at a whopping $61,236, per Yahoo! Finance.


With tuition numbers this staggering, what’s the average college-bound student and his or her family to do?


Enter the scholarship—that illusive savior for which everyone is striving. Competition for financial assistance—whether it’s for one of the school’s scholarships or any local, state, or national prize—can be stiff. Here are some things to consider to maximize your scholarship search.


Start with the Basics





It might seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: Don’t neglect the resources available in your school’s guidance office.


West Haven High School Counselor Danielle Attard advises students to start their scholarship search at Naviance, to which many schools upload the scholarship information they receive.


Attard also recommends good, old-fashioned networking.


“Contact the Financial Aid Office at the college you’re applying to,” she says. “Speaking to coaches, counselors, and administration can also help. When a scholarship comes their way, they may be more apt to think of you if you meet the requirements. Do some research on your own, as well. Google can be a great tool for looking for scholarships.


Think Outside the Box


Speaking of Google, put it to use for you and your crazy, hidden talent or quirky aspiration. There are tons of offbeat scholarships to be had, and the only thing standing between you and the perfect one may be a simple Google search.


Instead of thinking about your strengths in traditional terms—high SAT or ACT scores, a killer tennis backhand—why not let your penchant for copyediting put you through school? (That’s right, there’s a scholarship for those who love to mark up grammatical errors with a red pen.) Or, you could cobble together a few scholarships, thanks to your perfected duck calls, your love of asparagus, and your keen understanding of the importance of fire safety.


Be Realistic


College-bound athletes are under particular pressure to secure scholarships.  But what’s the likelihood that every gifted athlete will actually receive financial support?


Ask any expert, and the answer is that it depends on a number of factors, including the success of the student in the recruiting process (learn more about that here). But there are some statistics to consider. Take a talented tennis player who’s looking to play at an NCAA I school. In 2013, there was a team limit of 4.5 scholarships for men and 8 scholarships for women. For NCAA II schools, those numbers are 4.5 for men and 6 for women. Find more figures here.


Handling the recruitment process the best he or she can is one key to maximizing a student’s chances of earning a scholarship, says Ross Greenstein, president and CEO of Scholarship for Athletes.


So, when it comes to scholarships, it seems the old adage applies just as it does to school: Do your homework!


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