Have you heard about the latest way wealthy families are receiving college aid? Parents are transferring legal custody of their teenage children to another relative or party, in order to improve their eligibility for financial aid. (Click here to learn more.)  Fortunately, such extreme measures are not necessary for regular families like ours.

If you’re going to spend time researching ways to pay for college, focus on finding scholarships. There are thousands of college scholarships out there, and your teen has a good probability of receiving an award.  Many students just don’t put in the effort of finding and applying for them.

It does take effort to seek out and apply for scholarships, but it can pay off in a big way. I heard about a student who applied for a few scholarships. She received $1,000 here and $500 there. In the end, she was awarded $10,000 overall!  That kind of payout is definitely worth the time and effort.

Our kids are lucky they have the internet at their fingertips. When I was in high school, there was a big book you had to sort through to find scholarships. With online access today, you can easily search and filter results to find information about scholarships. But do be careful, as there are scams out there.

Here are some of the reputable websites to search for scholarships:

College Board: From the same non-profit that administers the SAT, the College Board’s search feature allows you to filter scholarships based on a variety of criteria like academic, affiliation, disabilities, etc.

College Scholarships: This site also allows users to filter by deadline and award amount.

JV Counseling: Sorts scholarships by grade, circumstance, hobbies, sports, and many more.

Fastweb: Using a simplified approach, this site helps students find scholarships that match their qualifications and interests.

Many scholarships don’t require recipients to attend a certain type of school, and they are often applicable to trade schools as well. Some scholarships even allow middle schoolers to apply.

For fun, I also researched Weirdest College Scholarships. Take a look, as your teen may want to apply to some of these, just for kicks. There are scholarships for people who love coffee, Star Trek fans, and a zombie apocalypse.  Who knew?  I’d love to know if your teen receives any of these weird awards.

Don’t wait until your teen’s junior or senior year to research scholarships. Start as early as freshman year of high school.

If you have questions about finding and applying for scholarships, or the college planning process in general, I am happy to speak with you.  Contact me at laurie@myidealcollege.org.