Jenna's Story of Easy Scholarships
My daughter's search for free college money became more like easy scholarships. How was this possible? It happened because we learned to tap into naturally occurring business and consumer principles that govern the college market.
Jenna- moving out to college
First, we really needed the help. After being diligent savers for college the first 15 years of our marriage, our family finances took a real hit after I was involved in several start-ups and two recessions over the prior 10 years. Knowing first hand the challenges of paying off debt we did not want our children taking on high levels of college loans.
Jenna was a student that was attractive to a certain type of college. Jenna was a high achiever in the classroom in high school. She is highly organized and possessed a dedicated acadamic work ethic. I honestly can learn from her! However, standardized tests such as SAT and ACT did not come as easily for her. By taking them multiple times she increased her scores and her chances for easy scholarships.
Jenna had no less than four areas of possible majors she was initially interested in starting about 10th grade. Living in the snowy northeast she initially thought of warm locations. (although my wife and I were quite uneasy about the distance!).
She eventually settled on a 6 hour radius from home. She preferred a smaller school enviornment.
Faced with a dizzying array of choices we soon realized we needed a way to sharpen our focus to find school grants. Even though she was ready to
engage in the college process her sophomore year our busy work schedules and Jenna's activities left us with
little discretionary time. Easy scholarships were not going to come from schools that were a poor fit for Jenna's interest or our family finances.
Based on what I had learned from my consumer research we began her college search. Here are the principles anyone can follow to help them in their search for easy scholarships:
Show Me The Money
- The biggest source of free money for college is at the schools themselves. We decided not to spend any significant time on private scholarships.
- Private grant criteria is generic and difficult to distinguish the student.
- The competition for private grants is huge and the award amounts relatively small.
There were a few local local private scholarships that made some sense for her to apply. The net result was only a $200 award from a long week of filling out applications before the deadlines. It is interesting to note that the amount of time she spent completing applications earned her the same from her part-time job had she requested more hours!
- By combining our college selection focus with our scholarship search we saved a huge amount of time and stress. This made the process of finding easy scholarships a more natural outcome because it came as a result of the schools that wanted Jenna.
Know Your Student
- What is the really important objective criteria for your student? There was much emotion around the college decision
. Where her friends were going, the "reputation" of the school, how many "cute guys" she saw, etc.!
Keeping her "must have" objective criteria in the forefront served as our compass during the journey. Examples of objective
criteria she decided upon included the size of school, acadamic selectivity, maximum driving distance from home, religous affiliations, majors of interest, setting, etc..
- By searching from this powerful database for schools that matched her objective criteria we were able to find many more possible fits than we could have accomplished on our own. The database also gave us incredible insights on the past actual free scholarship and grant history for each school.
Never visit a school that does not match your student's criteria!
- College visits take an enormous amount of time and travel expenses.
Why waste the time on something you know that is not a fit?
Never visit a college you can not afford!
- Would I test drive a Lexus if I can only afford a Corolla? I know too many parents who practically handed their
checkbook over to their child by letting them visit colleges at random. Just like I will likely fall in love with a Lexus I
parents put themselves in a real bind when their students get emotionally attached to a college that will be a financial
hardship on the family.
Compare a wider circle of schools
- My wife and I have spent our whole lives in two neighboring states. We thought we knew all
the schools that Jenna was looking for. However, through a proprietary database search we were able to find additional schools we did not know about.
These colleges met Jenna's criteria and as predicted offered substantially more free scholarship money than their peers!
Families often simply don't compare enough similiar schools in their selection process.
You CAN Negotiate With Colleges!
- After reviewing these schools on line we narrowed it down even further. Along with the visit process we then developed a negotiation strategy by prioritizing the schools based on Jenna's interests. After receiving the written financial aid offer letters we then developed a school comparison and negotiation approach.
How Do I Learn To Apply These Principles for My Student?