College is expensive. According to US News and World Report, the cost of a four-year education at a private school is almost $30,000 per year and a four-year public school is nearly $20,000. With college inflation averaging nearly twice the rate of normal inflation, students and parents are searching for ways to pay for school without finding themselves too deeply in debt. Often, that comes from scholarships. There are some scholarships or grants available that are easier to get than others, even for students without extraordinary academic or athletic ability.
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program
The Gates Millennium Scholarship awards 1,000 minority students with graduation scholarships as well as personal and professional development. This scholarship is part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a foundation started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. It has awarded more than $614 million in scholarships as of 2010. Students must be nominated for the scholarship and complete the online application process in order to be eligible.
Federal Pell Grants
The federal government offers grants to families that can prove financial need. To be eligible for the grant, the student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Awards normally fall between $100 and $4,000, but money is campus-based meaning that it will run out quickly. Complete the application as soon as possible. There are other government grants including the National SMART Grant and the Academic Competitiveness Grant.
The American Dream Scholarship
This scholarship, in partnership with the United Negro College Fund, is open to African American students with a minimum 2.5 grade point average. They have to meet Pell Grant eligibility criteria, which means that completing the FAFSA is necessary for this scholarship. Awards range from $500 to $5,000.
AAUW Educational Foundation Career Development Grants
The American Association of University Women offers a grant designed to help women who already have a college education by paying for graduate degrees or other training to progress in their chosen career fields. In the 2012-2013 school year, the AAUW will provide more than $4.3 million in funding to eligible women through 278 fellowships and grants.
Best Buy Scholarships
Best Buy will award $1,000 scholarships to more than 1,100 students living in the U.S. and Puerto Rico who will enter college after their high school graduations. To date, Best Buy has awarded more than $20 million in funds that have helped 16,545 students attend college. Selected students must demonstrate academic achievements, volunteer efforts and work experience.
Dell Scholars Program
The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation offers this scholarship based on the students' determination to find success through higher education. Only a 2.4 grade point average is required to apply for the scholarship, but students must have first participated in the Dell Foundation college readiness program.
These scholarships and grants are offered to students all over the country. However, many organizations only award funds to a small amount of students. Sallie Mae offers this advice to students looking for scholarships:
First, don't rule yourself out. Even if you aren't a star athlete or an AP scholar, there are likely scholarships that could provide you with the funding you need. These are sometimes based on financial need, your degree program or your ability to write.
Second, apply for as many scholarships as you can. If you qualify, apply for the scholarship, but make sure you follow all applications instructions exactly. Late applications are usually discarded.
The Bottom Line
The cost of college continues to rise and that has left students and families wondering how they will pay for higher education. Scholarships probably won't pay for your entire college education but they can pay for a significant portion, leaving a much smaller amount for you to cover.
Savings529 savings plans are not restricted by geography. So if your in-state offering has high fees or poor investment choices, look elsewhere.
InvestingPeople who became successful despite dropping out of Harvard University.
Credit & LoansHere is a look at some of the major changes to FAFSA in 2015 - 2016 and how they will affect student financial aid.
Credit & LoansStudent loans should be kept in good standing no matter what. Here are some tips on managing your loans.
Credit & LoansExtending your principal repayment date can increase your chances of fighting off default.
Credit & LoansFind out what they and are whether you're eligible to apply for these no-maximum loans.
ProfessionalsHere's why luring millennial clients might be a waste of time (for now).
Credit & LoansLearn how to fill out the FAFSA form so that it is easier for you to fund your education.
ProfessionalsRegulators, sales people and clients all look to communications professionals to help them navigate the markets.
Credit & LoansHow much you can borrow depends on your grade level in college, whether you're an undergraduate or grad student, and other factors.
Your eligibility for student loan forgiveness depends on the type of student loan in question. If you have a federal loan, ... Read Full Answer >>
The short answer is that one loan program still exists (Federal Direct Loans) and one was ended by the Health Care and Education ... Read Full Answer >>
Sallie Mae loans, similar to other private loans, cannot be forgiven. As of 2015, there is no option for private student ... Read Full Answer >>
Sallie Mae loans can be consolidated with other federal loans, but not with private loans. For federal loan consolidation, ... Read Full Answer >>
Sallie Mae is the number one provider of financial aid and student loans in the United States, servicing over 25 million ... Read Full Answer >>
Sallie Mae is the biggest provider of financial aid and student loans in the United States. The company operates as a private ... Read Full Answer >>