In 2018’s college graduation class, nearly 70 percent of students took out student loans, and their average debt was close to $30,000 each, according to Student Loan Hero.
In addition, 14 percent of their parents also took out an average of $35,600 in Parent PLUS loans to help support them.
With those alarming figures in mind, if you don’t want debt, scholarships are a must.
Academics should start the scholarship hunt. Academic scholarships usually have larger payouts and can even cover the entire amount of tuition for a four-year degree. These require not just a high GPA, but also participation in extracurricular activities.
According to the MarketWatch, about six percent of all high school athletes will compete at the college level and there is $3 billion in aid available across Division I and II schools. Gymnastics, fencing, and ice hockey have the lowest ratio of high school athletes to college scholarships, while volleyball has the highest. Football, the sport with the highest total number of scholarships available at 25,918, ranks fourth on the list.
Service-based awards can be a great way to get extra money.
Local churches, civic groups, and businesses often offer this kind of scholarship to students active in their communities. If your child frequently donates their time doing something like tutoring or spending time with the elderly, there is likely a scholarship somewhere to reward them for their service.
Even if it’s not cash, the Federal Work-Study Program can help students pay for college by providing a part-time job during college.