Financial aid is perhaps the most important issue facing college students. It means the difference between paying off decades of loans and living relatively easily.
Colleges have a responsibility to their students to ensure that when they graduate with a degree, that it is one that they can afford.
Finding financial aid in college can be a long, complicated process that often ends in frustration.
Between tax forms, essays and letters of recommendation, it’s easier to just avoid the process altogether and stick to the bare minimum of what you need to get through school, which may mean taking out a loan or two.
The thing is, there are millions of scholarships available for students that don’t require a perfect GPA or community service, which no one has time to do. These scholarships should be made easily accessible to students who need them, instead of awarded to the few people lucky enough to find out about them and apply.
Scholarship websites are often overwhelming and may offer two or three scholarships that you are even eligible for out of 50. In addition, most of these scholarships are not merit-based and are given out on a random basis. Only those who consistently apply for several of these scholarships ever really get a payoff.
Instead of making students search the internet for scholarship opportunities that may or may not be legitimate, high schools need to start informing students of such opportunities while they are in school.
The process needs to be simplified for merit-based scholarships, and those scholarships should be extended to those who meet the requirements, not simply those who apply.
Many colleges offer scholarships that are funded privately by donations. UCA is one such school, and offers millions of dollars in Heritage Scholarships each year.
Unfortunately, many students don’t know about these scholarships and therefore never apply to them. Only those privy to the information reap the rewards.
The point is that universities and high schools need to do their part in informing students of opportunities available.
Students have gotten scholarships for being left handed, while others struggle to make it through school because they don’t know that there is aid available, even if they are doing very well in school.
Perhaps the problem is that students assume that they cannot get scholarships based on their grades in college- high school GPA was important when they applied for scholarships entering school, and their GPA in college was only a means to keep scholarships they already had.
However, there are literally millions of merit-based scholarships offered to students in the middle of their four-year degrees, and UCA offers many as well. Many of them are specific to major, but not all of them are. Most require only an application and perhaps a short essay.
Students can be rewarded for doing well in college, but the process needs to be simplified and the scope needs to be widened. Any student doing well in school or struggling financially should be able to easily find, apply for and receive scholarships.
image via www.urbanfaith.com