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Unique Scholarship Options You May Not Have Considered

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 @ 9:25 AM
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Let’s face it: college can be expensive. But with the thousands of scholarship options out there, it doesn’t have to be. Although there are countless students just like you applying for these awards, if you work hard and choose the right scholarships for you, you can greatly increase your chances of winning.

There are many generic scholarships out there awarding big money prizes. Those are the ones that will see thousands of qualified applicants, and it may be more difficult to snag those. But what about specialized scholarships in your field of study? Local scholarships for students in your area? Prizes geared towards your specific talent? Scholarships that award students for an unusual trait? All of these unique and quirky scholarships exist. Why not consider applying for some of these scholarships? If you meet the criteria and can submit the right materials, you just might find yourself with more money for your college education in hand. 

The Writers of the Future Contest

Are you great in English class? Fancy yourself a writer? If you’ve got the linguistic chops, you may want to consider L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest. Stories of up to 17,000 words in the science fiction or fantasy genre could win you prizes of up to $5,000. This is a great opportunity to flex your creative muscles and try for some serious cash. The current contest ends March 31st, so get writing!

Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest

If you can get yourself to Kansas (and have a serious talent for duck calls) the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest could be the scholarship for you. This competition, held each Thanksgiving week, is open to high school seniors and awards prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places. This scholarship has been around for 38 years and has awarded more than $60,000 to students in that time. Better get practicing!

The Miss America Organization

Pageants may have lost popularity in recent years, but the Miss America Organization remains the leading provider of scholarship monies for young women, awarding millions of dollars each year to competitors on the national, state, and local levels. Competitions take place in each state and are open to young women ages 17-24. Participants are judged in several categories, with the greatest weight given to the Interview and Talent portions. If you have a love of performing, your dancing, singing, violin playing, and more could earn you big bucks for your education.

Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest

Do you have an interest in fashion? Or do you simply fancy yourself creative with duct tape? The Duck Tape Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest runs in 2015 from March 15th until June 1st, and offers two $10,000 scholarships to a high school couple who attends prom wearing inventive outfits made entirely of duct tape. This highly unusual scholarship offers major money, and also donates $5,000 to the winners’ high school. Check out the website to view last year’s winners and get some inspiration for your own incredible entries.

These are only a few of the incredible unique scholarship options out there. For more options, check out 45 of the Weirdest College Scholarships. With a little searching, you may find the perfect contest for you, and win yourself some much needed funds for your higher education. 


Tags: scholarships, strategies for college, financial aid award, college planning abc, college consulting, college planning, college applications, College Planning News, money for college, Manuel Fabriquer, College Admissions, attending college, college scholarships

How To Understand Your Financial Aid Award Letter

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 10:50 PM
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When you receive your letter of acceptance to a college or university, included in that packet, or arriving soon after, should be your anxiously awaited financial aid award letter. This piece of paper includes the information which will let you know how much the college experience will be costing (or not costing) you and your family. While award letters are full of information and numbers, they can often become a confusing jumble of data that the recipient struggles to fully understand. What’s the difference between a grant and a loan? What does unsubsidized mean? Today we break down some of the mystery surrounding your financial aid award letter.


Deciphering the Language
To start with, let’s define some of the common financial aid terminology you’ll likely encounter.
➔    Grant: A grant is money given to the student, whether from the university or through the federal government (such as in the case of the Pell grant). Grants are typically based on financial need.
➔    Scholarship: Need-based or merit-based, scholarships are also money given to the student, but often come with certain requirements, such as the student maintaining a certain GPA.
➔    Unsubsidized/Subsidized: You may see these words alongside “Federal Direct Loan”. These loans are from the federal government and must be repayed. Subsidized loans have their interest paid by the government while you’re in school at least half time, for 6 months following graduation, and during periods of deferment. For unsubsidized loans, you are responsible for repaying all interest.
➔    Work study: Work study is a federal program which allows students to obtain employment on campus to assist with the expense of cost of attendance.


Sifting Through the Numbers
You’ll want to proceed with as much information as possible before accepting or declining any part of the financial aid award letter. Some things to keep in mind:

- Some schools “frontload” their grants for freshmen. This means that the school offers more money to first year students, gradually reducing the grant amount in subsequent years. This can be a problem when estimating college costs. Ask the college or university directly what their policy is on this, or even seek out current upperclassmen and ask them about their grant amounts over 4 years.

- Work study is an optional program for students. Working at a work study job won’t pay the costs of tuition or fees, but instead, the student can earn money to assist with living expenses. These positions are coveted in the college environment, so if you’ve been offered federal work study, apply for positions on campus as soon as possible. 


Completing the Calculations
When a university gives you an award letter, they typically include all money you are eligible for, in the form of grants, scholarships, work study, and loan options. These amounts can be compared to the school’s total “cost of attendance” or COA. The COA includes not only tuition and fees and housing costs, but usually takes into account estimated costs such as food, transportation, books, and supplies. As you go through your award letter, you’ll need to research a few different things. Before signing up for any loans, make sure you fully understand the terms of the loans and find out any associated interest rates. This can help you determine if loans are the right option for you and your family, financially. It’s good to remember, too, that while you’ll be paying the school directly for tuition and fees (and typically for room and board as well), aside from that the COA can vary greatly dependent upon many factors. Transportation costs, for example, will be greater or lesser than estimated depending on how often you’ll be traveling to and from the university and how far you’ll be going. Books and supply costs can also range dramatically according to your choice of major. You may want to make a budget and layout estimated costs of your own with your family to determine the true COA.

Tags: strategies for college, financial aid award, college applications, attending college