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Carefully Research College Scholarships

Debt-free college is possible, but it does take some effort and careful research. Each university is so unique; parents should find out what the policy is at the specific universities they are considering.

Visit the University 

When visiting a university during junior year, ask questions. If you are offered a chance to speak to the financial aid office, take it. Sometimes they will provide a presentation with multiple families attending. Sometimes they will meet with parents one on one. While an in-person visit is best, it's not always possible. A virtual visit is also possible. Either way, it's important to do a deep dive into the scholarship policy at your school.

Automatic Scholarships 

Automatic scholarships are awarded based on SAT®, ACT®, and GPA. To earn these scholarships, carefully calculate GPA on your homeschool transcript. It's extremely important to provide grades in all classes and avoid using "pass" or "fail" as an evaluation. To maximize these scholarships, incorporate SAT® or ACT® test preparation into your regular homeschool day. With careful study, your teen could earn significantly more money for college.

Renewable Scholarships 

Some scholarships will renew year after year. In an acceptance letter, the university may say the offer is a $10,000 scholarship, renewable for four years, totaling $40,000 in scholarships. That sounds wonderful, doesn't it? But you need to be careful. Students don't always graduate within four years. Ask how many years that scholarships will renew. Just four years? Or six years? Other scholarships are not renewable at all, or the student must apply again to earn that scholarship in the coming years.

Requirements for Renewal 

Carefully look into the details about how to maintain the scholarship. If you are offered three scholarships, they may all have different regulations needed to maintain it. Requiring a GPA of 3.5 is almost impossible at the college level. Requiring a GPA of 3.25 is extremely difficult, but possible with good organization skills and a lot of hard work. Some scholarships are much easier to maintain and only require a 2.0 GPA. Athletic scholarships may expire if the student is injured. Find out if there are additional rules that must be followed to keep renewable scholarships.

Stack or Replace Scholarships 

Some colleges will collect all the scholarship money you accrue and give it all to you in the form of aid, with each scholarship stacking on top of the other to make a bigger and bigger pile of cash. Other colleges do NOT stack scholarships on top of each other, and instead will replace it with only one scholarship, the biggest one offered.

Here is an example with two colleges, both offering a $15,000 scholarship.

College 1 - Stack Funding (each award stacks together)

  • Cost of Attendance: $25,000
  • Need-based aid: $5,000
  • Total Offered in Award Letter: $15,000
  • Additional Offer: $5,000
  • Total Award Received: $25,000
  • Total Out-of-Pocket Cost: $0

College 2 - Replace Funding (you get only the biggest award)

  • Cost of Attendance: $25,000
  • Need-based aid: $5,000
  • Total Offered in Award Letter: $15,000
  • Additional Offer: $5,000
  • Total Award Received: $15,000
  • Total Out-of-Pocket Cost: $10,000

You can see that the same scholarship with a different policy can mean a different cost out of pocket.

Scholarships come in waves. With each wave of money, do more research on the rules and requirements for each scholarship. There's nothing more stressful to parents than when their kids apply to college for admission and try to earn scholarships. Learn more so you can guide your child to debt-free college and adulthood. Read The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships: Homeschool Secrets to Getting Ready, Getting In and Getting Paid.

In this book you will learn the secrets to successfully navigate the college process from start to finish, including selecting a college, negotiating college fairs, earning merit-based scholarships, and marketing your student effectively. Receive gentle encouragement and practical help from a homeschool coach and mentor who really understands. Relax and enjoy a casual conversation sprinkled with scripture, humor, tips, and quotes from The Princess Bride! Whether you're trying to understand entrance requirements for college for your first graduate, or new tactics for your second, there are countless treasures in this book.

Who is this book for? It's for all parents who want to learn college admission essentials: homeschool parents across the spectrum from classical to eclectic, confident parents wanting more information before crunch time, diligent parents guiding their child's college preparation, and confused parents procrastinating away their college worries.

People you trust LOVE this book! 

For over a decade, Lee Binz has specialized in helping home educating families plan their studies, keep good records, and maintain transcripts suitable for college acceptance. She knows how to navigate this often confusing or frustrating labyrinth better than anyone. It will save time and possibly money while reducing stress and anxiety. ~ Andrew Pudewa, Director at Institute for Excellence in Writing

Lee blends valuable advice with scriptural guidance that will help you and your teen navigate the high school years and ease the transition to college. ~ Paul and Gena Suarez, Founder and Publisher of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

I strongly recommend this book to all homeschooling parents who think that college might be in their child's future. It not only demystifies the process of preparing for, searching for, applying to, and affording college, but it will also put you at ease as you help your child make one of the most important decisions of his or her young life. ~ Dr. Jay Wile, Author of Junior and Senior High Science Courses

I've been a little afraid of the college scene. Lee helped calm my fears, reassured my inner-dad, and walked me through the whole process. Reading this well-written book will do the same for you. ~ Todd "The Familyman" Wilson, Familyman Ministries

Lee sums up in a concise and enjoyable way what took me years to learn about getting your homeschooled child into college. I found so much helpful information and truths I wish I had known earlier. This book is an essential guide for the journey to college. ~ Jeannie Fulbright, Author of the Apologia "Young Explorer Science" Series

What an incredibly valuable resource Lee Binz has provided to homeschoolers! It has streamlined the "what you need to do," "when you need to do it," and "how to get the most for your time/money," so that anyone can understand the process of finding and paying for a college. ~ Diana Waring, International Homeschool Speaker and Author

Learn more in my video review!
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