In a few short weeks, high school seniors across the country will be graduating. Although this joyous occasion is one to be celebrated, it’s often a wake-up call for many students that college is just around the corner, which means tuition, housing, and other fees will all be due very soon. Those who did not save for college, or enrolled at a school beyond their financial means, may find themselves clamoring to find financial aid to help cover all their impending expenses. At this point, it may seem like an impossible undertaking, but there are resources available to help those who still have insufficient funds for the upcoming semester. Here are just a few places seniors can look for last-minute financial aid.
Crowdfunding has increased in popularity among high school and college students. It’s a simple way for them to share their story, and hopefully garner donations from complete strangers. Of course, its success depends on several factors, such as using a good website and creating a unique story. Students will also need to harness the power of social media if they want to reach their goals. Those interested in using this type of platform should check out my ‘5 Steps to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign’ for more tips on getting the most money possible.
Tuition Assistance Programs
High school seniors who are currently working should check with their human resources (HR) department to see if their companies offer any tuition assistance or other educational benefits. There are several companies that not only reimburse students for their tuition fees, but also offer scholarships to employees. In general, students simply need to meet a minimum grade (usually a ‘C’ or better) and work a minimum number of hours per week (10 or more) to qualify for these benefits. Students should also check out any available benefits that may be offered through their parents’ employers, as many companies also extend these opportunities to spouses and dependent children.
Family & Friends
It’s always a good idea for students to sit down with their parents and discuss family finances. Some parents may be willing to take out a Parent PLUS Loan to cover the remaining balance, but not all will be in a position to help pay for college. There may be, however, a grandparent who set aside some money in a 529 Plan or squirreled away some savings bonds. If there is an aunt or uncle who never had children, now might be a good time for students to reach out and ask for help. Family members may offer a small gift to help with books, or even a low-interest loan with more flexible terms. Students should also request that friends and family members give cash in lieu of birthday and other holiday gifts.
Apply for More Scholarships
Although the school year is coming to a close, students still have plenty of opportunities to win additional college scholarships. There are many programs with deadlines in May and June, all of which should disburse in time for the fall semester. Students should also check out many of the scholarships that are offered monthly, as these typically take just a few minutes to complete.
Now that classes are ending, students should use their free time to apply to as many scholarships as possible. It’s also a good idea for them to log back into their scholarship accounts and update their profiles; a change in grades or test scores may open the door to additional opportunities. If students haven’t used a scholarship search previously, now is as good of time as any to begin!
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