This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Find Scholarships for Homeschoolers. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
College is SO expensive! Scholarships can really help alleviate the financial burden. We are often asked to share tips for finding college scholarships, so that’s what we will do in this week’s episode!
Let’s start with some good news and bad news about college scholarships
There is good news, so take a breath! On the other hand, there is bad news, also. With that in mind, let’s get the bad news over with.
Here’s the bad news about finding scholarships for homeschoolers:
So many homeschool families feel a “keep up with the Joneses” pressure for their homeschool high schoolers. The pressure tells them that their teens must have a full-ride scholarship to college…or else they have all failed. Homeschool moms need to show their success by their homeschool graduates getting totally free college.
We know there are programs and people who peddle the idea that they can help you find those full-ride scholarships. However, the difficult truth is that VERY FEW teens get full-ride scholarships to college. Very few.
In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics’ recent National Postsecondary Student Aid Study found that in 2015-16 (the most recent study) seventy-two percent of undergraduates received some sort of financial aid. However, only 0.2 percent received $25,000 or more in scholarships.
So if your homeschool high schoolers do not go off to college with a full scholarship, that means they are normal. My advice to you? Get out of the comparison game. You and your family are supposed to be your family…not the Joneses.
(Also, bad news is there are scholarship scams out there. Here is a valuable post on how to spot scholarship scams.)
Here’s the good news about finding scholarship for homeschoolers:
The good news is that there is scholarship money out there. In fact, that NCES study also found that in the 2015-16 academic year, $61 billion in scholarships were awarded to 1.58 million students. Thus, there was scholarship money available. All told, approximately one in eight college students received an average of $4202 per student.
Every $4202 helps.
With that in mind, may I ask you a favor? Do not miss the joys of homeschooling high school because you are fretting about how on earth your teen can work hard enough and long enough to win a full scholarship to their favorite college.
Make the most of high school and help your teens do their best, but do not miss the fun of these wonderful years.
So let’s look at scholarships and financial help for homeschoolers
There are a number of ways to help reduce your homeschool graduate’s financial stress about college. BTW- Here’s a college-planning timeline to keep you organized.
File the FAFSA
The first thing you need to know, is that many scholarships and most financial aid require you and your teen to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This is a long application that both you and your teen will complete online. It asks for your prior, prior year’s income (two years ago), as well as the same from your homeschool graduate.
The FAFSA helps determine if your teen is eligible for various Federal Aid programs and is the open door to many scholarships. For instance, some of the Federal Financial Aid programs include:
- Federal Subsidized Loans (must be paid back)
- Pell Grants (need-based grants, not required to be paid back)
- Some other grants and opportunities such as SEOG grants
- Work-study programs
Once the FAFSA is filled out, the government sends your information to the college of your choice. At that college, the financial aid committee hashes out the details of what you will actually receive.
Look at community colleges
Many states have free tuition for the first two years of college, or through receiving the Associates in Arts degree. Each state has different rules for these programs. Check your state department of education’s website to find out.
Tuition discount discounts at local colleges for local residents
Many colleges have tuition discounts for local residents. Check the college website to see if your local college includes one of these programs. Each college is different with its rules for these program (some require a certain GPA, for instance).
These are scholarships that vary from college to college. With that thought, you and your teen will need to see which merit-based scholarships are available. Which one fits your homeschool high schooler’s accomplishments?
Some merit scholarships include:
- Academic (for very high GPA, SAT/ACT scores or academic awards)
- Artistic (be sure to take your portfolio with you for college tours- ask for an appointment with the dean or academic advisors for that major)
- Athletics (for high-performing athletes). Check with your teen’s coaches and college of interest’s athletic director to find out what they are looking for.
Some scholarships are based on who you are, rather than what you have accomplished. For instance:
- Children of military veterans
- Special groups of people, according to the interest of a college
These scholarships, or tuition discounts, are given to students based on financial need.
One thing to know about these kinds of scholarships is that the amount of the needs-based scholarship is affected by (reduced by) other scholarships that come from other sources. This does not mean that teens should not apply for other scholarships.
Rather, it means that high school seniors should decide where they want to put their time and energy. Perhaps instead of spending hundreds of hours on scholarship searches, they might find a better use of their time and effort.
Now, down to the actual scholarship hunt. Here are some ideas:
- For teens who decide to go on a scholarship hunt, one resource to check out is Fastweb.com. It touts itself as “your connection to scholarships, colleges, financial aid and more”.
- Look for local organizations who are investing in the community through scholarships.
- Think about your teen’s niche. For instance, if your teens has a skill such as farrier that might earn them a scholarship from the National Farrier’s Convention (I just made that organization up, btw.)
- If they are involved in a local organization, it might have small scholarships for local teens.
- Scholarship competitions.
- Our friend, Meryl, at Homeschooling with Technology podcast has even MORE information on tracking down scholarships.
- Also, the College Prep Genius podcast has a bunch of little known scholarships.
All of these scholarships work well for homeschool graduates who will not be receiving needs-based financial aid.
Google these organizations and find out if they have scholarships available. If you find that they do, be sure to follow their rules to the letter.
The most important thing to remember is: You do not need to get an ulcer over this. The most important things are to educate your teens, train them for adulthood and help them become good people. God has plans for your teens.
Join Vicki for this episode on how to help homeschoolers find scholarships.
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