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Reducing the Financial Burden of College With Merit-Based Scholarships

For parents of college-bound students, the cost of higher education can be a significant concern. While financial aid and grants might be more common, merit-based scholarships provide another valuable avenue to help offset the expenses of college. There are many different ways to find merit-based scholarships and a few key notes to keep in mind when applying for scholarships. Ultimately, merit-based scholarships can ease the financial burden on both you and your college-bound student.

Understanding Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students based on their achievements, talents, and potential rather than their financial need. Understanding how your child can work towards winning scholarships will be beneficial when creating a budget for college expenses. These awards can come from various sources, including colleges, organizations, and corporations. They offer a unique opportunity for students to be recognized for their hard work and dedication throughout their high school years.

Finding Merit-Based Scholarships

  1. Start with Colleges: Many colleges offer their own merit-based scholarships. When researching schools, check their scholarship options. Some schools automatically consider students for merit scholarships upon admission, while others require a separate application.
  2. Use Scholarship Search Engines: There are numerous scholarship search engines that can help you identify scholarships that match your child’s achievements, interests, and goals. 
  3. Explore Local Scholarships: Look into scholarships offered by local community organizations, foundations, and businesses. These may have less competition, increasing the chances of success.
  4. Check with Professional and Industry Organizations: Some fields have professional or industry-specific organizations that offer scholarships. This is particularly relevant if your child is pursuing a particular career or academic interest.
  5. Review High School Resources: High schools often have information about local and national scholarships. Your child’s school counselor may be able to help your child find these opportunities.

If your child needs help locating scholarships that are a strong match and wants a higher chance of winning, they may benefit from Finding and Winning Private Scholarships, a My College Planning Team service for high school seniors. 

Applying for Merit-Based Scholarships

  1. Start Early: Many scholarships have early deadlines, so encourage your child to begin the application process well in advance. This will provide ample time to complete all requirements and ensure a well-considered submission.
  2. Read and Follow Instructions: Pay close attention to the eligibility criteria and application instructions. Ensure your child meets all the requirements and submits the necessary documents.
  3. Highlight Achievements: Emphasize your child’s accomplishments in the application. This may include academic achievements, leadership roles, extracurricular activities, community service, and special talents.
  4. Write Stellar Essays: If the scholarship application requires essays or personal statements, encourage your child to craft compelling and well-written responses that showcase their character and goals. 
  5. Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation: If letters of recommendation are needed, your child should request them from teachers, counselors, or mentors who can speak to their qualifications and potential.
  6. Proofread and Edit: Before submitting applications, carefully proofread and edit all materials. Mistakes can detract from a strong application. Have a trusted teacher or counselor review the essays.

Stay Organized and Persistent 

It’s important to stay organized throughout the scholarship application process. Create a calendar with deadlines, and keep track of applications and requirements. Persistence is key, as your child may need to apply for multiple scholarships to increase their chances of success. If you’re wondering, “Are Outside Scholarships Worth It?” read this article next.

Merit-based scholarships can significantly reduce the financial burden of college, so it’s worth investing time and effort in the application process. With diligence, attention to detail, and a clear strategy, you can help your child unlock valuable scholarship opportunities that make their higher education dreams more attainable.

Scholarships are often difficult to find and frequently go unclaimed. My College Planning Team has counselors that will advise your child on scholarship search strategy and which types of scholarships to focus on. They will provide an organization tool to help streamline the scholarship search and application process. Together your child and their counselor will create a curated list of a minimum of 5 and up to 10 scholarships based on the student’s academic and extracurricular profile, school, region, and college major. And to wrap up the module, the counselor will assist with full review of 1 to 2 scholarship applications, including brainstorming of scholarship essay topics and feedback on scholarship essays, resumes, or other application components. To discuss any college planning concerns, financial or academic, schedule a free call with My College Planning Team!

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