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Cover College Costs with Scholarships

Posted on September 26, 2017

While the long-term benefits of a college degree can be significant, coming up with the money can be a challenge.

College costs seem to be rising every year, with tuition and fees currently averaging more than $8,000 per year for in-state students at a state school, to more than $20,000 per year for out-of-state students at a state institution, to more than $28,000 per year for private universities. Student loans are one avenue to explore, but any loans will need to be repaid starting soon after graduation. Scholarships, on the other hand, are one-way transactions, delivering money to the student with no pay-back required.

Man in cap and gown giving thumbs up

Thousands of scholarships are available through a number of avenues. Many colleges and universities offer scholarships for a variety of specific reasons such as academic achievement, musical ability, and perhaps the most well-known, athletic prowess. The community offers another path to scholarship money: many businesses, including On Tap Credit Union, and social and fraternal organizations offer scholarships to local residents based on various criteria. Some school districts like Jefferson County and national student organizations such as FFA also support scholarship programs. Some religious organizations and even individuals offer scholarships.

Most scholarships have application criteria, such as GPA, extracurricular activities, community service, membership in a certain organization, family military service, income level, or parental employment at the company offering the scholarship. Applications can range from a few basic questions and an essay, to more involved essays and even interviews as the sponsoring organization narrows their field of applicants. The research and application processes can be a little daunting, but can be well worth it as you watch your scholarship dollars start adding up. Keep in mind that most scholarships are for one year but can be renewed, requiring a new application each year.

Several online services offer guidance in finding and applying for scholarship funds. Below is a list of a few:

It’s important to realize that organizations have only a limited number of scholarships to award, so it’s important to submit a quality application. And, while you may not receive every scholarship you apply for, you won’t receive any if you don’t apply at all. 

Often, scholarships won’t cover all your college expenses, and a student loan can help bridge the financial gap. On Tap Credit Union has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer our members the Smart Option Student Loan®. To encourage responsible borrowing, Smart Option Student Loans must be certified by the school’s financial aid office to help ensure students borrow no more than their cost of attendance less other financial aid received. With competitive variable and fixed interest rates, choice of deferred and in-school repayment options, and no origination fee or prepayment penalties, the Smart Option Student Loan is a responsible way to fund your education.

If student loans and scholarships don’t get you the funds you need for your child’s college education, consider using the equity in your home as a funding source by opening a Home Equity Line of Credit. Contact one of On Tap Credit Union’s Financial Advocates at 303-279-6414 option 3 for insight and information to help you make the best decision for your situation, or apply online.