If you thought that getting an athletic scholarship was the only way to afford college, you’re in for a nice surprise. While it’s true that approximately $2 billion in athletic scholarships are awarded to nearly 145,000 student athletes in Division I and II schools alone, there is plenty of financial aid to be had.
You or your student can set apart your application in the eyes of the financial aid and scholarship committees by making sure you take care in crafting and submitting information like the following:
- Well Written Personal Statements
- Quality Letters of Recommendation
- Job History and Proof of Work
- Proof of Military Records
Beyond these elements, it’s important to be on track when it comes to completing your FAFSA, applying for scholarships, obtain work study positions, and applying for graduate assistantships and internships.
Completing the FAFSA
This is one of the most important elements of financial aid because many awards are based on financial need. The FAFSA determines whether you are eligible or not to receive financial aid based on your ability to contribute towards the cost of higher education.
Awards like the Pell Grant cannot be received unless you complete a FAFSA on time, so make sure you have everything ready and submitted by your state’s deadline.
*Quick note: You need to reapply for the FAFSA each year, so make sure you file your taxes as early as possible and submit your FAFSA promptly.
Apply for Scholarships
For students in High School still, check with the guidance counselors to obtain as many scholarship applications as possible. Expect to spend hours completing these forms – but don’t get discouraged. One hour on a scholarship application might translate into $500 to $1,000 or more if you’re selected, so it’s definitely worth your time.
Don’t be afraid to search for scholarships through online search tools like FastWeb. Your chances of getting a scholarship are locked in at 0% chance if you never apply.
Lastly, be sure to call your prospective college to inquire about scholarships not mentioned on the website. Sometimes awards go unnoticed and never get posted, so you’ll want to take advantage of the inside scoop.
Work Study Opportunities
Your college of choice may have work study opportunities available for students who qualify. Once you’ve completed the FAFSA, your financial aid office will tell you if you qualify for a work study position.
If you are work-study eligible, you’ll be able to earn a wage by working between 10 and 20 hours a week at your school. Some positions even allow you to study while you’re working – that’s right, you’ll be paid to study at times!
There’s no guarantee, however, that you’ll get the work study job that you want, so apply early and connect with the departments that you want to work for.
Internships and Graduate Assistantships
Some undergraduate programs will have internship opportunities available in the summer. If you qualify and get accepted, you can certainly make your scholarship applications look better with this as a part of it.
Even better is landing a paid internship. You may even find an internship that leads to a full time position with tuition reimbursement.
For graduate students, the best financial aid option is to become a graduate assistant. Many universities will waive tuition and pay a stipend for graduate assistants, which means that you could graduate with no debt and with cash in your pocket.
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