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College Planning

3 Ways to Identify the Best College Scholarships for You

The new college year is right around the corner. And whether you’re an incoming freshman or an experienced upperclassman, you’re going to have tuition bills to pay. The question is . . . where’s the money to pay those bills coming from?

If your parents haven’t been able to build a college fund, then you’ll be responsible for making your college experience happen. And if you know me, you know I want you to avoid student loans at all costs! It’s doable, I promise! You can make college happen by working and through scholarships and grants.

The good news is that there’s tens of thousands of scholarships out there to be had. It’s just a matter of finding them. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you apply—the answers could lead you to free money!

1) What makes you unique?

What’s something about you that stands out? Are you passionate about a hobby? Are you tall? Left-handed? Do you have a medical condition? No matter how random it sounds, you can probably find a scholarship for it. Just dig a little, and you’ll find plenty you’re qualified for. And don’t forget that small amounts add up. You may think it’s not worth it to apply for a $250 scholarship, but that could buy your textbooks! Every little bit counts.

2) What do you want to study?

Private scholarships are often very precise about qualifications, including studying a specific field or degree. You can find private scholarships for math education students, concert pianist students, food marketing students . . . the list goes on and on. You can spend 10 minutes on Google and find a detailed list of scholarships related to your field of study. Imagine what it was like for your parents—way back before the internet!

3) Where do you come from?

No matter what your heritage or background is, you can probably find a scholarship related to just that. Are you Native American? African American? Hispanic? Scholarships are out there waiting on you! Also, check out your hometown. Many groups or businesses from your hometown community probably offer private scholarships.

Every future college student should make it their part-time job to apply for scholarships and stay away from the student loan trap!

Want a place to start? Our $58,000 Financial Literacy Challenge, sponsored by Churchill Mortgage, runs from April 6 to April 25. Students can take a brief survey and financial literacy quiz at daveramsey.com/challenge for a chance to win some awesome prizes! Seniors have a chance to win one of four $10,000 scholarships, a $5,000 scholarship, and a $2,000 scholarship. Underclassmen can win one of three $500 Amazon gift cards. Share the Challenge with the high school students in your life today!