The Role of Scholarships for High School Seniors
Scholarships are among one of the most popular forms of financial aid for college bound students. The more funds a student is able to secure for his/her college education, the less stress their families have to deal with in terms of affording this expense. However, one common mistake many make when it comes to this subject is waiting until the last minute to look up scholarships for high school seniors.
The high school years can go by quickly and before you know it, it’s senior year and time to plan for the next stage in your life: college and earning that almighty degree. However, procrastinating or not taking your final year of school seriously could result in complications further down the line after graduation—especially when it comes to applying to colleges and universities. It’s never too early to start researching scholarships for high school seniors. The sooner this information is obtained, the easier it will be to come up with a blueprint for which scholarships to apply to and budgeting for the funds needed.
A large number of scholarships are aimed towards students that are still in high school. This is for the purpose of helping families budget their finances well in advance so that they know how much they’ll be able to afford on their own and how much will need to come from financial aid. The funds for such scholarships come from various sources, such as the federal and state government, businesses, private institutions and even individuals. When it comes to awarding money to high school seniors in particular, these types of scholarships often come in large amounts—usually enough to cover a full year or more of college and all the expenses that come with it.
While each scholarship comes with its own requirements, the process typically involves submitting an application packet, as well as demonstrating to the sponsor why a particular student is worthy of winning the scholarship. This may be done through an academic competition, essay submission or proof of involvement in a community service group, organization or related event/cause.
Not sure where to begin in this process? Before diving into information about scholarships for high school seniors, it is a good idea to first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. The FAFSA can be completed online and comes with a detailed set of instructions for how to properly fill out the application and submit it. Using a special formula, the FAFSA calculates how much financial aid a student’s family will need. Once a student knows that amount, the next step will be to determine how much of that amount will need to come from scholarships and other forms of financial aid. From there, it will be easy to lay out which scholarships for high school seniors should be applied to in order to receive the right amount of money to afford college.
Examples of Scholarships for High School Seniors
Because of the importance placed on being able to afford college, there is no shortage of scholarships a student can apply to during their senior year. The Cocoa Cola Scholar’s Foundation is perhaps one of the most well known scholarships for high school seniors. There are 250 scholarships given each year. 200 students are awarded up to $10,000, while a lucky 50 receive the entire amount: $20,000. With this scholarship offering four year’s worth of financial support, recipients have the opportunity to attend a college or university for free. In addition to submitting an application, students interested in this scholarship also need to maintain at least a 3.00 GPA. There are also other factors that come into play as well.
High school students that are active in Key Club are ideal candidates for several Key Club International Scholarship Programs, including the Himmel Scholarship, TruGreen Scholarship, David Hancock Memorial Scholarship and the Key Club International Youth Opportunities Fund Scholarship, to name a few. Basic eligibility requirements include being a graduating high school senior, an active member in good standing for at least two years, maintaining a 3.0 GPA average, applying to a college, university, vocational or technical school and having a record of paid dues on file through Key Club International.
Make Friends with Your Academic Advisor
Your school’s academic advisor is there for a reason. This individual is someone who knows the path towards a higher education inside and out. Tap into their knowledge and begin setting up appointments to discuss your options soon as your senior year begins. The academic advisor will be your go-to-source for your questions and concerns regarding applying to colleges, obtaining financial aid and will even assist you with putting together your scholarship application packet.
Talk to Your Parents
Since college is going to be a combination of your efforts as well as your parents’, it is important that you keep the lines of communication open with them once senior year comes around. Whether you’ve already had the “college talk” or not, touch bases with them and explain what your ideas are, what schools you want to apply to and what the costs could involve. When researching scholarships for high school seniors, include your parents in the process so that there is no miscommunication about what will be expected financially.
Pay Attention to Detail
You only get one shot at each scholarship you apply to so take the time to do it right. You can apply to as many scholarships as you want but make sure to focus on quality over quantity. Read the instructions carefully and only submit what the sponsor asks for. When writing your essay (if required), do the extra step of having your draft reviewed and edited by at least two people other than yourself. It is ideal to have your English teacher help you with creating a strong essay. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete your scholarship application before the deadline as well.