As my kid gets closer to heading to college, I’ve been thinking more and more about how to pay for it. My kid isn’t a trust fund child, we are an average middle class family, he’s not a stellar athlete, and he’s not an academic genius. So what can we do to make sure he gets through college without accumulating a large amount of debt? After doing some research, I’ve been encouraged by the scholarship possibilities that are out there and I wonder how possible it would be to send my kid to college without having to pay for any of it! In other words, I’m figuring out how to go to college for free – and I want to share with you a few things that I’ve learned.
Even if you aren’t a trust fund child or your parents aren’t extremely wealthy, you still might be able to leave college without a giant pile of student debt. Did you know that you don’t even have to be a genius in order to qualify for a great many no essay college scholarships that are out there? Tons of the scholarship contests don’t even have certain income requirements, and many of them do not require that an essay be written in order to qualify.
With student loans that are topping over $1 trillion in the United States today, any high school student who is considering college in the next few years should be actively trying to figure out how to pay for a higher education more easily. Sure, getting a part-time or work-study job might help, but really is that going to be enough?
Instead of Part Time Jobs
What if you were planning to spend the summer, or your senior year, working at a part time job, but then you weren’t able to find a job? Or what if you want to work but you don’t have a car to get you back and forth? As an alternative to working a part time job to pay for college, have you considered ways that you might be able to spend your free time paying for college by applying for scholarships? All you need is a computer with internet access that you may have at home or you can gain access to at a public library. Applying carefully and strategically, and paying attention to important deadlines, will give you the best beginning toward a much less expensive college career.
Easy Scholarships – Apply for a Bunch of Them
Obviously, the best way to increase your chances in receiving scholarships for college is to apply for as many as humanly possible. Some students have applied to over 100 scholarship opportunities and have earned even hundreds of thousands of dollars for college or university!
By checking online you will find that there are some scholarships which are offered annually, but other scholarship websites which offer scholarship contests as often as monthly or even weekly. Staying organized and setting a schedule, rather than approaching it from a haphazard point of view, is the best way to make sure you hit all of the scholarships that you possibly can. And that you don’t miss the important deadlines. Creating a spreadsheet is a great way to stay organized and I would love to help you out with that. Simply click the button below and I’ll send you a spreadsheet to help get you started.
Make a dedicated schedule to apply for at least 1-2 per day, and be sure to stay organized. Keep a notebook or binder to help with this. Even if certain scholarships do require essays, once you have written the first few you can copy your own work to make it a lot easier for the rest of the applications.
No Essay Scholarships
I know, I know. Some of these contest-type no-essay scholarships might seem too good to be true, but actually most of them are really legitimate. They actually do give away the money (at least the ones that are offered by reputable businesses in the US) and they are not all just trolling to get your information.
Of course, they will ask for referrals, but you can opt out, and they earn their money just by offering you the opportunity to sign up. So it’s a win-win for everyone involved. The company gets their perks and benefits of advertisement and tax breaks, while the students have the potential of getting their education either partially or completely paid for.
Tons of different companies get good public relations as well as tax breaks for donating money to nonprofit college scholarship funds. This allows the companies to be viewed in a better light, but they aren’t necessarily only giving the scholarships to people who are strong in academics. This is where those who don’t want to write a lot of essays come in because many of these are simply contest or random drawings—so just about anyone can win!
It might feel like a gamble, but it’s better odds than the lottery. If you have ever been tempted to pay to play the lottery in order to pay for college, don’t even think about it. Instead, sign up for these free scholarship opportunities (don’t ever pay to apply—that’s a sure sign of a scam!) where the odds are much higher than the odds of winning the lottery might be.
Legitimacy of “Easy No Essay Scholarships”
I think I did a pretty good job at explaining the legitimacy of these types of scholarships above. But maybe you’re still apprehensive and a little suspicious. Well, you don’t have to take my word for it. I’ve actually published a previous article on this site about a mom who wanted to prove that these types of scholarships were bogus – but she ended up disproving her suspicions instead! Here is part of what she had to say…
So when I thought about this topic, I began to research these types of scholarships, expecting to find lots of negative comments and warnings to avoid them. Guess what? I didn’t. They are real and so are the students who win the awards. Yes, some ask that you refer friends as part of the process, but you can choose to ignore them. Like all businesses, the scholarship sites rely on more and more students visiting their website and applying for their listed scholarships. It’s how they draw advertisers and continue to grow. You can opt out of providing that information by simply ignoring those scholarships. ~Evelyne
Want to learn more about Evelyne and her Three for Free blog – where she is documenting her journey to send all three of her kids to college for free? Here is the link to my original post about her story which goes into much more detail about her story.
Persistence is Key
One of the most important parts of winning in the scholarship world is remaining dedicated and committed to the task of applying. If you are in high school and you hope to pay for all of your college with scholarships, this is not a one-and-done kind of thing. To be successful in playing this scholarship “game” you need to be educated on the rules and the deadlines, and then make sure to meet them. Again and again if possible.
Don’t let rejection get you down. Many scholarships allow for repeat applications for students who are attending college so if you didn’t get it the first time and the rules allow for it, try again the following month or year. Scholarship seekers should not just be limited to high school seniors. Make it a part of your lifestyle to be regularly searching and applying for scholarships weekly, monthly, or seasonally. Spend some time now to save a great deal of money later, during and after college.
Small Scholarships Add Up
I recently read about Alisha Jones from University of Texas in Austin, who gained $24,000 in college scholarships simply by writing scholarship applications and letters during her senior year of high school. She was focused and dedicated to the task. The source of the scholarships came from at least 50 different places, each less than $1,000. But combined, they added up to a significant amount of college money. So don’t assume that a scholarship for just a few hundred dollars isn’t worth your time. If everyone thinks the same way then less people will be applying, and you will have the advantage with a smaller pool of applicants. (Source: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/…)
Local awards are often much easier to get because, although they are often less in amount, they also have less competition for the prizes. The harder you have to look for a scholarship, the less likely it is that a mass of other people will have found it, which means your chances of getting it are higher. Our Scholarships by State resource happens to list a whole bunch of these types of scholarships! Take advantage of it.
Make it a Competition
No really, among your friends you can have a friendly competition about who can apply for the most scholarships. Or even better, think about participating in the Cappex.com Scholarship Marathon in the spring (usually March) through College Greenlight. The marathon runs for a 12 hour period and is a free virtual event that tracks the number of scholarships applied by each competitor during that time. Winners are chosen each hour for gift cards and other prizes, and Green Light offers a $1,000 scholarship to the ultimate winner. You could actually get paid to be applying for scholarships which could then pay you. That’s a double bonus!
Cindy, from the Nerdy Scholarship Guru, began applying for college scholarships when she was just in the eighth grade.
“Well I started getting my hustle on when I was just in the eighth grade; people thought I was crazy but I knew I wanted to go to college debt free! I’m NOT the valedictorian of my high school, neither am I a gifted athlete nor a great test taker! I’m just highly involved with my community and school. I’m what you call an average, well-rounded kid who happens to work hard.”
She worked so hard that she has earned almost $30,000 in scholarships simply by applying to anything and everything she might qualify for—but not wasting time on those she didn’t qualify for. (Source: http://thenerdyscholarshipguru.wordpress.com/…)
Now It’s Your Turn!
Applying for scholarships can be hard work, that’s for sure. But you can either put in the work now by applying, or you can put in the work later by paying off that student loan debt with ridiculous interest. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the idea of filling out applications with the potential of going to college for free!
Beat the odds and become one of those students who goes to college for virtually no cost out of pocket. You’ll have bragging rights with your friends, and you’ll emerge from college a step ahead of everyone else. Or perhaps you’re a sharing and caring kind of person. Maybe you want your friends to benefit from learning how to go to college for free too. Please don’t hesitate to share this article – it’s easy and only takes a second to hit one of the sharing buttons below.