The skinny on scholarships


Every year, billions of dollars in scholarships are left unclaimed by college-bound students. BILLIONS of unclaimed dollars. Let’s let that sink in for a second. 

Ok, now let’s talk about how, with a little time and effort, your student can earn scholarships (AKA free money) that will not only help pay for college, but will also make their resume stand out when they’re applying for internships and jobs down the road.

Finding free money for college takes a little work — sometimes a lot of work. But more often than not, the effort you and your student put toward finding scholarships will pay off. Some scholarships are smaller — a hundred dollars here, a couple hundred there — and others can cover the cost of a four-year degree. The good news is, the more scholarships your student applies for, the easier the process gets. 

Here are some tools that you and your student can start using now to search and apply for the scholarships that will help pave the road to an affordable college degree.

  • Check out Raiseme, a tool that partners with universities all over the country to award individual, micro-scholarships that, when stacked up over time, can add up to significant scholarships. These awards are given to high school students in grades 9-12 as a reward for things like good grades, extracurricular activities, and volunteerism. 

  • This searchable government database sorts scholarships into easy-to-navigate categories based on where you live, where your student plans to study and what their interests are. Go to the search bar and type in words like “basketball,” “chess,” “theater,” “golf” or “marine biology” — you name it, there’s probably a scholarship for it. 

  • A lot of universities have scholarship search tools, like Arizona State University’s Scholarship Portal, where you can save applications in progress, track requests for letters of recommendation and search for more free money for college. Some scholarships are school-specific, like ASU’s Obama and New American University Scholarships. Others can be used anywhere your student decides to go to college. 

Most of the scholarship search process should be done by your student, with you cheering them on and hopefully guiding them to some of these resources. 

But another set of tools is going to come in pretty handy, and this is where adults tend to save the day: organizational skills. 

Staying organized throughout the scholarship application process (which could go on for years) can be tough for students who haven't mastered the whole “adulting” thing yet. This is an excellent opportunity to work with your student on life skills like tracking due dates, prioritizing tasks and making budgets. They’re going to need to keep track of the money they earn through scholarships, and calculate how much money they’ll need for tuition and expenses. So to wrap things up, here’s a helpful list of the things you can do to help your student stay on top of it all. 

While your student will need to write their own essays and fill out their own applications, you’ll probably be working alongside them as they search for college money. If you have questions or just need some sage advice from people who know a lot about the whole scholarship thing, you can always check in with ASU Financial Aid and Scholarship Services. Regardless of where your student decides to go to college, there are people willing to help you figure it all out.