You’ve finally filled out and sent in all of your college applications. What a relief! But, wait. Don’t sit back and relax yet. Now it’s time to work on your budget. Everyone knows that college isn’t the most affordable life experience.
Fortunately, there are ways to help offset the cost. Of course, you can take out loans, but those have to be paid back. Scholarships and grants, on the other hand, are like monetary gifts. Here’s a rundown of some of the resources you can use to get free money for college.
One of the first things you should do is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will tell you what types of loans, grants and work-study funds you are eligible for. Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to get the application.
Your state grant agency may also be able to provide financial assistance. Find the contact information for your state organization by visiting the U.S. Department of Education at www.ed.gov.
Many high schools offer scholarships, so be sure to review all of the ones at your school and apply for any that you qualify for. Your guidance counselor can help you out.
The college you decide to go to may offer financial aid through scholarships and grants as well. Speak to someone in the financial aid office for more information. If you know what you will major in already, talk to someone in that department. Sometimes you can get a scholarship geared specifically toward students in your field of study.
Just for Equestrians
Since you’re an equestrian, there are other avenues open to you in the form of breed and sport associations. Specifically, those that have youth organizations generally offer scholarships. Visit your breed and/or sport organization’s website to learn more.
Are you a member of the United States Pony Club (USPC)? They offer scholarships for college too. Some scholarships are awarded directly by the USPC. Schools that work with the USPC also offer money to students who are USPC members. Go to www.ponyclub.org for more information.
A Good Application
Centenary College in Hackettstown, N.J., offers several equine-related majors in addition to its other academic programs. Any student can apply for scholarships and grants. There are also departmental awards that are major-specific, including some for equestrian students.
“Centenary reviews all students who apply for scholarships based on their high school GPA and SAT/ACT scores,” says Evelynne Blatt, who oversees scholarships and financial aid for the college. “There is also a variety of grants that are available to students based on family income and size.”
Participating in sports, organizations such as Student Council, and outside activities like volunteer work can help you get scholarships too. “We look at what [students] are involved in at their high school, as well as outside of their school,” says Stefanie Taggart, admissions counselor at Centenary.
Lake Erie College in Ohio also hosts several equine majors, including equine entrepreneurship, facility management, teacher/trainer and therapeutic horsemanship. The school offers scholarships based on academic success in high school.
“Lake Erie College has a variety of scholarships that are equine-specific,” says Stephen Lazowski, vice president for enrollment management and financial aid at Lake Erie. “They are based on major, riding teams, and pre-vet interest.”
All About the Benjamins
The amount of money you can get from a scholarship or grant will vary widely. “Admissions scholarships range from $8,000 to 75 percent of tuition,” says Blatt. “Centenary grants are awarded up to $5,000.”
Depending on the scholarship or grant you are awarded, you may be able to use it for other costs besides tuition. “Grants and scholarships are to be used for educationally related expenses and are applied first toward tuition, fees, and room and board,” says Blatt. “Remaining funds can be used for books and supplies, as well as other living expenses, such as travel.”
These are just some of the ways you can get financial aid to help lower the expense of college. Your local library can help with the process, as well, or you can do an Internet search for “college scholarships.” It can take some time, but the more applications you fill out, the better your chances of earning money for college. Good luck!
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2015 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!