Nancy Paul is a merit scholarship expert who believes that all families deserve to know about ways to reduce the ever expanding costs of attending college. “College costs have gone up 1100% in 30 years – and that’s very alarming to any parent (or grandparent) with students in college or heading to college,” Paul says.
A scholarship is money for college that doesn’t have to be paid back … ever! Merit scholarships are based on achievement rather than financial need. Students, regardless of financial situation, can earn and win merit scholarships.
As a mom actively involved in her three daughter’s school activities, Paul had heard the term “merit” scholarship before. Her daughters are three years and three months apart. Since her family was facing the financial burden of three children in college all at the same time for an extended period of time, she decided to figure out if merit scholarships could work for her family.
What happened next started Paul on her mission to help families just like hers. Their high school counselor and a private college counselor had handed her a list of 2 scholarship websites and said, “Here, it’s really easy. It’ll take you a little time to figure it out.”
But it wasn’t just a little bit of time; it was hundreds of hours of digging into the details, researching, and putting the many pieces of this puzzle together. Paul ultimately found $150,000 in merit scholarship opportunities that fit Rebecca, her eldest. Rebecca didn’t apply for or win all of them, but the financial and non-financial gains of pursuing merit aid were staggering. Soon other parents wanted to know what she had learned.
Here are Paul’s top 5 tips for preparing your student for earning a merit scholarship:
1. Work closely with your student to identify what they really like to do. Have them volunteer or get involved in activities that they will care about for several years. Developing a volunteer track record with strong leadership skills is key when ready to submit scholarship applications. This also often brings clarity around what their field of study in college will be.
2. “Set the expectation at a young age that that they will help pay for college with their achievements,” Paul explains. “We empower our students by letting them pay for college based on their own achievements. They are developing critical life skills and validations. That, in any socioeconomic situation or viewpoint, is a great thing.”
3. Secure whatever tutoring is required to get those important SAT and ACT scores as high as possible. This is very important for winning money from colleges.
4. Set the groundwork at a very young age for developing strong study habits, with college being an end goal. Grades and GPA are important.
5. Finally, start researching and looking for scholarships early. There are even merit scholarships for middle school students! Invest some time finding out what is available and the criteria for qualifying. Allow time to prepare for success.
Watch for Paul’s new book, The Little Book About Scholarships, available on Amazon this month. Learn more about the scholarship options available to your family at http://www.ThreeWishesScholarships.com. Remember, “Getting into college is one thing. Paying for it is another.”