Monday, October 29, 2012

Looking for a Scholarship? - Research Every Possible Venue

Going to college and getting a degree can often help out financially, because with a degree, career options open for you, along with the possibility of a higher salary. The thing is, many people graduate college, and despite their higher salary (if they managed to snag a job in a well paying field via their degree), end up struggling financially because of their student loan payments. Some people do manage to get academic scholarships based on grades alone, but that isn't so easy. Others manage to work their way through college, which is a great option, but also very difficult. 
This is a guest post by Nancy Evans, about how you can maximize your scholarship potential so that you don't end up financially strapped by those student loan payments when you graduate.

Most graduate students fall into the school “financially needy” category because they don’t earn very much when they work and they are faced with high tuition bills. But even so, very little financial aid is awarded to grad students based solely on financial need. Undergraduate finances are no longer available, so students have to find other alternatives.
Grad schools offering law degrees often tell students to borrow through student loan options based on the theory that their final degree will get them a better paying job, thereby giving them repayment capacity. However, this also results in a large debt by the time the student graduates.

A better solution is to look for any and all available scholarship options you may qualify for. Still, most charities and large schools only offer scholarships to the neediest students, those similar to a Chinese American Hero, who have great financial need but also must demonstrate incredible scholastic abilities. Even so, there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances of getting a scholarship or need-based aid:

1 – Analyze your personal finances. If you are planning on getting married analyze those of your fance/fiancĂ©e as their financial background will also be considered when bequeathing a scholarship.
2 – Focus on applying to schools that don’t consider parents income, especially if your parents have a nice home or good jobs.
3 – Consider community associations that offer local scholarships. Write to these associations or look up their website to find what qualifying data is required. Apply early, as there are usually many solicitations.
4 – Find a local law firm internship program with a firm that offers scholarship sponsorship. Many law firms offer scholarships to their employees. [Some school systems pay for people to go to college on the condition that they work for that public school system as a teacher afterward. -Penny.]
5 – Apply to large public law schools that offer endowments. But again, it’s important to remember that these are often only given to those students in extreme need that offer a great deal of scholastic talent.
6 – Online endowments are often overlooked by students. Several organizations, charities, and corporations offer endowments for law students. However, they are not advertised so the best way to find them is through an online search and application.

The Process in Finding the Right Scholarship
It’s important that you start your search early. Find as many potential scholarship leads as possible. Expect this to take more than a few hours of research. You’ll need to look in the references available at the library, online, and even by talking to student counselors and professors. Note that every grant or scholarship has a deadline so you must submit the application and corresponding essay by the submission deadline.

Does it Pay Off? 
Searching for a scholarship can certainly pay off, as it is one of the best ways of paying for your law degree. Still, you are not guaranteed in find one, but by the same token, you don’t lose anything by trying. If you try hard enough, you can expect to get a scholarship of about 50%.

Do you have a college degree? Did you graduate with lots of student loan debt or without it? How are you managing with that? Did you do anything to minimize the amount of student loan debt you'd have? What did you do?

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