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[Book Excerpt] Getting the BIG Scholarships

~ A word from our founder, The HomeScholar Emeritus, Lee Binz ~

This is a chapter from my book, Getting the BIG Scholarships: Learn Expert Secrets for Winning College Cash! You can get your own copy in print or Kindle version here.

Three Kinds of College Scholarships 

There are three kinds of college scholarships:

1. Need-based Financial Aid

Need-based financial aid is related to the FAFSA® that you fill out for the first time in October of senior year. FAFSA® stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application will help the federal government decide how much they think you can afford to pay for college each year.

The U.S. Department of Education requires the FAFSA® to receive any government money for college, such as grants and loans. This form is how the government conducts a need analysis with information from your income tax forms, which determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) — how much the government thinks you can afford.

Awards are given as grants and loans. Loans must be repaid. These may include work study, such as work in the school cafeteria, which doesn't usually pay well. Need-based financial aid scholarships are first come, first served.

There may not be much help for middle income families because the government figures out how much money you deserve. Still, it's worthwhile to try. In my family, we could have received $2500.

2. Private Aid

Businesses and organizations often offer private aid through private scholarships. Search for scholarship opportunities awarded for special talents or abilities and complete the applications, which often include a written essay or project along with the submission of thorough homeschool records.

There are many unused private scholarships out there, with awards varying in amount. As your child completes applications and essays for these scholarships, you can use the work for high school English credit. For more information, read my coffee break book, College Scholarships for High School Credit. This can save you quite a bit of money on an English curriculum. But there is no guarantee of success, even if your child applies for a million private scholarships.

Here is my suggested process to follow to find suitable private scholarships for your child:

  1. Find scholarships. Try using
  2. Filter out the ones that don't fit your child, using the mantra, "One strike and you're out."
  3. File them, so they are arranged by due date.
  4. Follow-through is up to the student, so allow time for essay writing, project creation, and the application.

Keep in mind that you can reuse these essays for other scholarship and college applications.

We worked hard at these scholarship opportunities. My boys submitted one scholarship application per week, and each earned about $2500, which we were thrilled about. However, it was only enough to pay for books and fees, and not much more. Private scholarships won't earn big scholarships for most students.

3. Merit-based Scholarships

Students receive merit-based scholarships directly from colleges when they apply. These can be automatically awarded, based on SAT® or ACT® scores, or GPA. Therefore, it's incredibly important to provide grades, so your child has a GPA on which to base scholarships and to make sure your child has excellent test scores or other outside documentation, to demonstrate their GPA is well-earned. Colleges may also give scholarships related to special skills or talents. If your son plays first base on the baseball team and a college needs a first baseman, they may be willing to give a full tuition scholarship. A merit scholarship might be awarded due to special musical ability, or a special talent in academics.

Merit-based scholarships might recognize something your child has accomplished, such as volunteer work or working in the Civil Air Patrol. Or it can be based on a future plan, such as the commitment to engage in military service in the future.

Degree-related scholarships are also available, especially for in-demand fields such as engineering, nursing, or teaching. If your child says, "I don't have a clue what I want to do, but I'm pretty good at math and science," they could choose degree-related scholarship areas such as engineering or nursing.

Some organizations give merit-based scholarships based on unique qualities. One of our sons earned a merit-based scholarship simply because he was part Italian! He didn't have to do anything to earn it but be who he was! If your child meets a certain criterion, they might win scholarship money. And criteria are as wide and varied as people are different.

Merit-based scholarships are the most lucrative kind of scholarship, so this book is devoted to helping you get these big scholarships. Our children received scholarships to every college where they applied and were given over $184,000 in full-tuition scholarships to our first-choice college. They even got a matching award from our second-choice college!

You must convince colleges your child has something worthy of a merit scholarship. How? Through what I like to call "clipping college coupons"—doing all the trivial things that added together will create incentive for colleges to give your child enormous financial awards, such as:

  • Providing a rigorous education — core classes and more
  • Including genuine activities and volunteer work — the extra-curriculars that demonstrate true interests
  • Preparing a professional and accurate transcript and thorough course descriptions — so they can check your homeschool's academic rigor
  • Meaningful college visits — so the details used can be used in the application process
  • Timely completion of admission forms — these are inflexible deadlines
  • Great letters of recommendation — from people outside your family
  • Self-reflective, technically perfect college application essays written by your teenager

Getting the BIG Scholarships is one of my Coffee Break Books. What are Coffee Break Books? These are books designed for YOU - a busy homeschool parent feeling frustrated by something, and needing information NOW - all put together in an easy-to-read, short, simple format. Coffee Break Books are perfect for overwhelmed, sleep-deprived moms with a baby on their hip. Simple, large font makes them easy to read even when distracted or pulled in a million directions. They are designed to help parents tackle just ONE issue of homeschooling during just ONE coffee break! Each book combines a practical and friendly approach with detailed, easy-to-digest information. Never overwhelming, always accessible and manageable, each book in the series will give you the tools you need to tackle the tasks of homeschooling high school, one warm sip at a time.

Learn more about Getting the BIG Scholarships in my video review below!

This is a chapter from my book, Getting the BIG Scholarships. You can get your own copy from Amazon in print or Kindle version here!

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Thursday, 20 June 2024

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