A Path to College Tuition Affordability: College Scholarships
By Dr. Gina La Monica
My last column was on college financial aid, and it received an abundance of comments and views. With college tuition prices escalating at an incredibly rapid rate, families are desperate to find ways to fund their children’s college education. According to a report from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, between 1980 and 2020 the average tuition increase was a whopping 169%. Scholarships are now more than ever an integral aspect of funding today’s college education.
A good place to start in looking for scholarships is in your hometown which is often less competitive. Plenty of communities offer newly graduating seniors an opportunity to apply for college awards. In Santa Barbara, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara does an excellent job at giving out millions of dollars to thousands of students from this community. With all award applications, take note of the application deadlines.
The next place to search for scholarships is at your place of worship. Community churches and temples are known for having scholarship programs for their members. Moreover, within your religious sector, many offer awards. For example, the Catholic diocese has several awards for high school students who are Catholic, attend a Catholic high school, or plan on attending a Catholic college.
Additionally, there are countless scholarships based on ethnicity or race available to graduating seniors. Being of Italian descent, I searched for Italian-related college awards and found more than I ever imagined for my daughters. Immigrant community organizations have a multitude of awards to further the education of children of a particular decent.
All academic majors also have their set of awards. One of my daughters is a STEM major and I found numerous scholarships, especially for females. Ask the colleges of interest what scholarships are available for your child’s particular major. Usually, once accepted into a college, they will send you scholarship and grant information. A couple of my clients missed these emails, and hence, the deadlines to apply for them. Other colleges will automatically review their admitted students for all scholarships that are applicable to them.
Start early in your scholarship search because some have early deadlines. Not to mention, most require letters of recommendation, which might take some time to acquire since teachers are usually writing letters for large groups of students. Read the directions thoroughly. Each application has its specific guidelines. Often middle-class families believe they cannot obtain any scholarships because of their income level, but there are plenty of awards based on merit and other variables such as leadership and community service. Many awards are also for multiple years covering a student’s entire period as an undergraduate student. For example, you may be given $5,000 for four years totaling $20,000. There are also awards for graduate students specifically those pursuing advanced degrees for instance in the medical field. Every year, you can search out new awards to apply to. Below are the top sites for searching for scholarships. Good luck in your pursuit of obtaining a debt-free college education.
Dr. Gina La Monica has a Doctorate in Education and has worked as a high school counselor, college administrator, and professor at many universities and colleges including the University of California, Los Angeles, California Lutheran University, California State University, Northridge, San Diego State University, etc. She was a tenured professor and an expert in career technical education and adult learning. She currently teaches at a local college and helps students of all ages from kindergarten to the university level with career exploration, college admissions, learning assessment, tutoring, and education plans.