Lee Binz, The HomeScholar
When you earn homeschool scholarships for college, your student can graduate debt-free. College can be affordable. Private universities can be less expensive than public universities. And a 4-year degree can cost less at a university than homeschooling college or paying for community college. Are you surprised?
It’s true! You can be successful at finding homeschool scholarships for college even if your children are “normal” kids. The key is that you have to start thinking about scholarships now, when your children are in middle school or early high school, so you can start some simple projects that will pay huge dividends.
I know this can pay huge dividends because it did for my family. We saved a few thousand dollars for college, but other budget and family priorities came first and we knew it wasn't going to be enough. Even with our modest savings, both our boys graduated with 4-year bachelor degrees from their first choice university with ZERO college debt. Neither child had to work their way through college, even though they held jobs. Both of our children were academics, but they did not excel in sports or have anywhere near the volunteer hours they should. They weren’t super social, merely sweet, ordinary, lovable, nerdy guys with some interesting and unusual passions (chess and economics, if you must know).
You can earn homeschool scholarships, even if you have humble homeschoolers. Let me explain how.
1. Need Based Scholarships
The first type of homeschool scholarship is need-based financial aid related to the FAFSA that you fill out during October of senior year. Awards are given as grants and loans. Loans have to be repaid; they are not a gift of cash. Financial aid may include work study, such as a minimum wage job working for the school (in the cafeteria, for example and may not pay well). These scholarships are first come, first served.
Need-based scholarships may be somewhat helpful even if you are a middle income family. Learn about these college scholarships so you can determine if they will be helpful. Get up-to-date information on need-based scholarships and the ever changing FAFSA in my free resource, Need Based Scholarships - A White Paper. It’s filled with tips for busy parents who dread filling out government forms.
2. Private Scholarships
The second kind of homeschool scholarship is the private financial aid your child can earn from businesses or through special applications. You can search for scholarship opportunities given for special talents or abilities, often also involving a written essay or project, submitted with thorough homeschool records. There are many unused scholarships, and the awards vary from small to huge amounts.
As you and your teen complete applications and essays for these scholarships, you can use the work for high school English credit. This can save you quite a bit of money on English curriculum. But there is no guarantee of success, even if you and your teen complete a million applications. Our family worked hard on applying for these scholarships for an entire year, and our children each received about $2500 from this kind of scholarship. You can read strategies for earning private scholarships in my book, College Scholarships for High School Credit: Learn and Earn With This Two-for-One Strategy.
3. Merit Scholarships
The third kind of college scholarship for homeschoolers is the merit-based scholarship a student receives directly from the college when they apply. These can be automatically awarded, based on SAT®, ACT®, or GPA. This is why homeschool parents should provide grades in all classes, so the student has a GPA on which to determine scholarships. Colleges may give homeschool scholarships related to special skills or talents shared in the application process.
Merit-based scholarships are often the easiest to get when you know the simple strategies. These college scholarships can make the biggest financial impact for your family, even if your child isn’t an Einstein. Our children received great scholarships from all colleges applied to - awarded over $184,000 in scholarships to our first choice college.
To earn a merit scholarship, you must convince colleges that your child is worthy of a merit scholarship. The ability to persuade colleges comes from what I call “clipping college coupons.” You know how you save money on groceries by clipping coupons and shopping ads? The same tactic can be used for colleges. You can convince colleges you are worthy of merit scholarships by "clipping college coupons." These coupons are the many small things colleges request in order to determine who to award admission and scholarships.
You have complete control over some of these coupons as the parent. You can’t always make your child write well, test well, get a job, or suddenly become extroverted. But there is one thing you can control; you can always provide outside documentation with thorough homeschool records. All of these kinds of outside documentation are awesome, but who is ever going to know about them if you don’t share them? They all need to be included in your student’s college application, and most of them need to be included in your student’s records.
With all of this information in mind, here are three of the most important tips for homeschoolers in need of scholarships.
1. Apply the First Month of Senior Year
Apply for colleges early in senior year, and complete all applications well before each due date. I suggest trying to beat deadlines by two months, or finishing everything before Thanksgiving. This means you need to have all the pieces of the application ready to go, which requires you to pay close attention to all those “college coupons” I talked about. Most financial aid is first come, first served. You want to be first in line when they are handing out the cash.
2. Apply to 4 to 8 Universities
Apply to a mix of public and private universities. Public colleges are often cash-strapped, with few available scholarships. Private schools may be well funded, with larger scholarships. In my experience, public and private universities are often the same price after financial aid is given, so make sure you include a mix of colleges. In my family, one private college offered a full tuition scholarship and said it was their top scholarship. The public university offered my son merely a few hundred dollars per quarter, and said it was their top scholarship.
3. Apply to Reach, Fit, and Safety Schools
Choose some "reach" schools. These colleges have higher average test scores than your child, but your child meets the college requirements. Ivy League and military academies are always reach schools, no matter how high your child’s test scores may be. Choose some "fit" schools. These colleges' test scores are about the same as your child’s, and your child meets the college requirements. Choose some "safety" schools, as well, where your child’s test scores are higher than the college average and they exceed the requirements.
During senior year, scholarships do not arrive all at the same time. Instead, they come in waves that roll in over time. The first wave is scholarship money based on application numbers. This means the score on the SAT® or ACT®, plus their GPA. The second wave of scholarship is based on the FAFSA® and what the government considers your family's financial need. The third wave involves the scholarships children get based on special merit or skill.
Scholarships rarely arrive when it's convenient. The most difficult time for parents who need financial aid is spring of senior year. At this point, your child has been admitted to college and has their heart set on their first choice university, but because all the scholarships haven’t come in yet, the parent has absolutely no idea how they will pay for that college.
Scholarship money is available for almost every college applicant. Some students will win huge merit scholarships. Your humble homeschooler can earn great scholarships. It simply requires you to invest some time and energy into “clipping college coupons.” Follow these concrete steps to increase the odds of your child receiving homeschool scholarships.
1. Need Based Scholarships - A White Paper: FAFSA Information for Busy Parents
2. College Scholarships for High School Credit: Learn and Earn With This Two-for-One Strategy
3. The Comprehensive Record Solution will help you create records that perfectly reflect your child's home education
4. Learn more about College Admission and Scholarships
Grab your teen and join me as I share the secrets I used to get two 4-year full-tuition scholarships from my kids' first choice university in the same year.
This is the same strategy I have used to help families who have gone on to get even larger scholarships than we did! This is a presentation that you can't afford to miss.
Give high school credit for work on college scholarships! learn and earn with this two-for-one strategy!
Most parents stay busy with the usual elements of life - kids, work, spouse, house … the list can sometimes seem endless. That's why it's important to combine things when you can, and kill the proverbial two birds with one stone. A great place to apply this concept is when your high school student is pursing college scholarships.
The HomeScholar guides you in creating homeschool transcripts and records that give your child the edge for college admission and scholarships. Let Lee come alongside with the tools, training, and personal support you need to create professional homeschool records that will amaze the colleges.