How to apply for scholarships like voting in Chicago

Grants and scholarships for college are keenly on the minds of parents. The first part of this series, “Grants and Scholarships 101 for parents of college-bound teens” helps you get started, by overviewing the differences between grants and scholarships plus who will give your teen money. In this second part of the series, I will share how to apply for scholarships.

As you walk through these 5 steps, please keep in mind that these steps are meant to be repeated at least twice a year. I would recommend following these steps in July and January to best plan ahead.

1. Determine which scholarships – there are numerous websites that have listings of scholarships for your college-bound teen. Here are five websites which I discuss my likes/dislikes about each in the above FB Live video:

Other offline places to check may be your employer, credit union, professional associations, and foundations in your local community.

2. Add deadlines to the family calendar so that it’s visible and serves as a reminder. Also, your teen can add the deadlines to their phone so that the deadline is not missed. (see Tip #4)

Posting the deadline helps with planning ahead.

3. Be prepared to write – Scholarship applications often require an essay (or two). If a scholarship application has an essay prompt, your teen must respond in a clear and compelling way. . . which takes practice and time. Your teen can get help with writing through a tutor, teacher feedback, writing program/camp, and reading for pleasure.

Good writing can help your teen stand out among other applications and potentially win the scholarship!

4. Meet the deadline – there are year-round deadlines for scholarships. That’s good news and bad news. The good news is that if you miss a deadline one month, you can always apply to another scholarship the next month. The bad news is that several of the major scholarships like Coca-Cola are one-time only. When the scholarship applies to a specific grade level, then you miss the opportunity altogether.

Make sure your teen meets the deadline.

5. Apply early and often – Many families wait until senior year of high school to start looking for scholarships. There are scholarships available for students as early as age 13. Yes, your middle-schooler can apply for scholarships that can be used for any college they attend. For a number of those scholarships for younger students, there is a wide age range which means that your teen can apply as soon as they’re eligible. If they don’t receive the scholarship the first time, they can re-apply the next year.

Now, do you get the Chicago reference in the title?

What additional steps should be included here? Please share in the comments below.

Part 1 . . . for parents of college-bound teens: Getting started

How to save time when seeking money for college

save time seeking scholarship money

During a recent FB Live show, I discussed “Grants and Scholarships 101 for Parents of college-bound teens”. Although teens are applying for the scholarships, oftentimes, parents are searching and later reminding their teen about available scholarship opportunities. Scholarship searches on the internet can take a lot of time. My aim in this show episode was to give parents some practical tips that will save time when seeking money for college, especially free money that you don’t have to give back. . . grants and scholarships.

The first of this two-part series on what parents must know about grants and scholarships will provide an overview to help you get started. In the second part of this series, I will discuss what parents must know about applying for scholarships.

Let’s get started by answering 2 common questions that I get from parents:

Is a grant the same as a scholarship?

We often use the term “grant” and “scholarship” as one and the same. Grants are usually need-based, which means that a family may only be eligible to receive the grant based on household income. To determine eligibility, the family may have to show proof of income or submit financial documentation.

“Scholarships” often refers to merit-based awards, which means that it doesn’t matter how much money the parents make. And the term “merit” can be defined very broadly. Some of the “merit” scholarships my students have received have been based on musical and artistic talents, geographic location, community service, even being a boy/girl.

Knowing these distinctions in terminology can help with your online searches.

Who gives grants/scholarships to my teen?

This is a great question because if you don’t know who gives out scholarships then you may overlook scholarships that your teen can get. The source can be different based on whether it’s a grant or scholarship:

Who awards grants

a. Federal – Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine eligibility for federal grants, like the Pell Grant.

b. State – depending on your home state, the FAFSA may be used to see if your teen qualifies for any state grants.

c. Colleges – colleges also require FAFSA to determine if your teen qualifies for any grants they offer. If it’s a private college, parents may also have to complete the CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile to determine eligibility.

Who awards scholarships

d. Anybody and everybody, like

  • credit unions
  • private organizations
  • employers
  • foundations
  • non-profit organizations

e. Colleges – the most lucrative scholarships my students have received came directly from the colleges. So when your teen is developing their college list, that will play a significant role in how big the scholarship offer may be. My suggestion here . . . don’t sleep on the importance of the college list!

What other tips or places should be included here? Please share in the comments below.

Part 2 of Grants and Scholarships 101 for Parents of college-bound teens: Applying

What you didn’t know about academics and social scene at MIT

mit engineering computer science

MIT is well known for its highly selective academic programs in computer science and engineering. Most people, however, aren’t aware that MIT also has distinguished programs in the humanities, social sciences, architecture, and business. It’s worth noting that the MIT Sloan School of Management even offers a full undergraduate business program, unlike Stanford.

mit highly selective
MIT highly selective

MIT has a core curriculum with humanities and science courses required for all students. Like Williams College, MIT students take 4 courses per semester and typically declare their major by end of freshman year. For those students who want even more varied course offerings, MIT does cross-register with Harvard, Wellesley, and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Every MIT student must pass the swim test to graduate, like Columbia University.

MIT started the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, now adapted at many other universities across the country. About 85% of MIT students take advantage of these research opportunities, which can be done for course credit or stipend.

Additional quick facts about MIT:

Acceptance: 8%

Freshmen retention: 98%

Freshmen from out of state: 93%

4-year Graduation rate: 84%

Most popular majors: mechanical engineering, computer science/engineering, electrical engineering/computer science

Social: MIT has the most varsity sports of any Division 3 school, with 20% student participation. In addition to athletics, there are over 500 clubs, 70-80 of which are performing arts clubs. Half of the guys at MIT pledge a fraternity.

Housing: All freshmen live on campus and approximately 90% of upperclassmen. Housing is guaranteed for 4 years, which is especially for the majority of MIT students who are from outside Massachusetts. Similar to the housing system at CalTech, MIT students can choose where they want to live.

Similar colleges to consider: CalTech, Rochester Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania

Financial aid: MIT offers only need-based scholarships, with 100% of need met. For students with family incomes of $75,000 and under, MIT ensures that those students do not pay anything for tuition. Although the cost of attendance is $67,000, the average need-based financial aid package is $39K. About 90% of students receive scholarships/financial aid.

What do you think about MIT? What about this college is a good fit? Please post your comments below.