Redheads, lefties and the exceptionally tall — or short – have unique opportunities this time of year. So do skateboarders, duck callers and even people with outstanding milk mustaches.
Truly, there are some quirky college scholarships available. Likewise, there is free money available for academic stalwarts. The key, said McIntosh High guidance counselor Hope Huey, is being dutiful enough to research scholarships and apply for them. In the gap between financial aid and student loans are all types of entities eager to help fund the education of aspiring and current college students.
In most instances, deadlines are fast-approaching with many applications due around mid-February or early March. Competition is stiff for aid that most often ranges from $500 to $3,000. While the HOPE scholarship is a well-known resource for Georgia students, the money does not stop there.
“You may have to work for the scholarships, writing essays and getting letters of recommendation,” said Monet Robinson of the Georgia Student Finance Commission. “There is competition, but I’d say not to give up. The more they apply, the better they get at it.”
And the better their chances. Huey said her most diligent students apply for 10 to 15 scholarships. Perhaps the most popular free resource is Fastweb.com, along with Scholarshipexperts.com and GACollege411.org. You should never pay for scholarship searches.
Then, there are the local resources: churches, civic groups, community banks, local companies, parents’ workplace and of course the high school guidance office. For those already in college, seek out the deans and others for leads on aid, advises consumer expert Clark Howard.
“It can be overwhelming, so you have to start early,” Huey said. “You can start as early as ninth grade entering contests for scholarships. It can be discouraging if you apply and you’re unsuccessful, but the only way you’re going to get one is if you keep trying; it’s hard work.”
Ayamo Oben discovered that. A senior biology major at Kennesaw State, she was a finalist for a scholarship last year, but didn’t win. Though disappointed, she continued to apply for scholarships this year and was awarded $2,500 a year from UPromise and $1,800 a year from the school’s College of Math and Science.
“If it seems like too much work to do, think about the rewards you would get in the end,” she said.