Column: Funding Your Future
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High school students will sit in anticipation of a college acceptance letter for weeks, sometimes months, and the day it arrives they grin ear to ear telling everyone they know. They worked hard for years to be accepted into a good school and are eager to start the rest of their lives. What most students do not realize is how expensive a college degree really is. According to money.cnn.com the average American family in 2015-’16 spent $24,167 on college expensses, which is the same cost of a new car or even a house on today’s market. Four years of college expenses can pile up quickly.
Fret not college bound students, great options exist out there to cut these costs down, potentially to nothing. According to debt.org each year the U.S. Department of Education as well as colleges and universities hand out $46 billion in grants and scholarships. Not to mention that private sources like clubs, corporations and churches hand out $3.3 billion of their own.
You can get a scholarship for about anything, but some of the highest paying ones are for sports. According to scholarshipstats.com In 2015, all of the NCAA divisions combined to hand out a total of $3.3 billion. NCAA Division I was responsible for $2.2 million and NCAA Division II added up to $578 million. Even the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics gave away $389 million as well as the National Junior College Athletic association who gave away $11 million to athletes. Even though only 2 percent of high schoolers will receive a full ride scholarship according to ncaa.org, however, 56 percent of those who went to a Division I school in 2016 received some sort of sport related financial aide and 61 percent of those who went to a Division II school in 2016 received sports aide.
Another huge part of keeping your debt to a minimum is making sure your paperwork is done and in on time. Ideally, as soon as possible. The money that is available to you is also available to everyone else in the county. Think of this like one big cash pool, once someone receives money, it is gone, and now your chances grow slimmer and slimmer. According to professionals.collegeboard.org approximately 450 colleges have early decision or early action plans. That means students get their acceptance letter well before the university receives the massive tidal wave of applications. Then by default students can start looking for scholarship opportunity well before their peers even know where they are accepted and where they are not.
It is a huge asset getting all your applications in early, speaking from experience, on top of the financial opportunities students can submit housing application early and have way better chances of living where they want and with who they want. Many ways exist to earn scholarships and to keep your college debt down to a minimum. The best advice is to strive for high paying scholarships and get everything done and submitted as soon as possible.