Advice for Parents re. Scholarships

Read great advice for parents re. scholarships for college, and college planning, written by parents of current or prospective college students.

Last updated on July 17, 2024 by College Financial Aid Advice.

University of Florida

University of Florida

Parents: Partner, Don't Nag!

Advice for parents re. scholarships written by Monica from Michigan

Scholarships, every student wants to win them and every parent NEEDS their student to win them! College scholarships financially benefit both student and parent, so it makes sense for parents to partner with their students to help them win.

The problem is, students are so busy these days with sports, academics, community service, and part-time jobs that scholarship searching and applying often gets put off until deadlines have passed. All these things that make a student well-rounded also put limits on the time the student can spend finding and applying for college scholarships.

There are so many things a parent can to do help in the scholarship process. Parents can actively search for scholarships their student may qualify for and make a list of these scholarships. Scholarship searching is a tedious process, taking precious time away from a student’s study and work schedule. Moms and dads can accelerate this process by doing the searching for their student. Parents can make note of scholarship guidelines and requirements, such as what essays need to be written, word count limits and subject matter. Research into the organization offering the scholarship can be found by parents and passed along to their students. Folders organizing high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and scholarship applications can be purchased by parents and placed in designated areas.

When a scholarship deadline is looming, parents can present their student with all the information they have gathered and inform the student exactly what needs to be done in order to apply. Parents can be a second or third pair of eyes when it comes time to proofread each essay, making suggestions along the way. When the application is filled out, the essay is written, and all required materials are gathered, parents can help their students organize and get everything ready to be mailed or submitted online, making sure nothing is missing.

With so much of the scholarship preparation done for the student, parents will only need to nudge, not nag, their students in the scholarship process. They will have formed a partnership that results in more scholarships applied for and less stress for the whole family. The more scholarships a student applies for, the better chance they have of winning. PRICELESS!


How to Win the Best Federal, State, College or Private Scholarships for You or Your Dependent Student

Advice for parents re scholarships from Olivia of Florida

To: Parents of perspective college bound students:

With the cost of a college education continuing to go up and the economy and wages remaining stagnant, the question of how you are going to fund your child's college education may seem difficult, if not impossible, to answer. This is especially true if your child is not gifted athletically, does not play a musical instrument exceptionally well or fails to score in the top 10% on the SAT or ACT. However, if you continue reading this letter, you will learn that while the task may seem daunting at times, there are some simple and straightforward steps to take to increase your child's odds of winning scholarships or grants.

The first and arguably most important step is to apply early and often. While this statement may seem obvious, the truth is that you cannot start applying too early. In fact, there is at least one scholarship where if you wait until you are in high school to apply, it is too late (Grauschopf). Additionally, there are numerous scholarships opportunities for high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

Once you have committed yourself to start looking for scholarships and/or grants, the next thing you should do is identify your child's special qualities/unique characteristics. If you do this, you may be surprised to find that there are several scholarships offered for those qualities or characteristics. For example, ScholarshipRed offers the chance to win a $250 scholarship if your child is a natural redhead. If your child is not a redhead, but is a lefty or a vegetarian or an excellent duck caller, then they can apply for one of the listed scholarships through Juanita College, The Vegetarian Resource Group, and the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest.

In addition to the plethora of scholarships that are available, do not forget to see if your child qualifies for any grants. Grants are distinctly different from both scholarships and student loans because you do not have to pay them back and they are primarily need-based, compared to traditionally merit-based scholarships. Students seeking grant money can begin by searching for grants by topic or by need, through the federal and state government, colleges and universities, and public and private organizations. A few of the federal grant programs are the Pell Grant program, the Academic Competitiveness (AC) Grant, and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART Grant.) The Pell Grant, created in the 1970s, is likely the most popular program of federal funding and recently the maximum Pell Grant award was over $5,500. The Academic Competitiveness Grant is available to undergraduate freshmen and sophomores with excellent academic records along with demonstrated talent for leadership and service. The SMART Grant follows the Academic Competitiveness Grant with $4,000 awards to undergraduate juniors and seniors. However, students must be studying computer science, engineering, mathematics, or sciences to be eligible.

State Grant programs are given to resident students based on merit, need, and area of study. In addition, most community and state colleges, as well as universities offer tuition waivers and other grants based on financial need. (Tuition waivers and grants are based on the FAFSA and college tuition waiver applications.)

Finally, many kids find it necessary and/or beneficial to hold part time jobs while in high school. If your child will be working while in high school, have him/her seek employment with employers who offer their employees college scholarship opportunities (e.g. Lowes, Chick-fil-A, etc.)

While all of the above tips/secrets are important for winning scholarships or obtaining grants, the most important thing to remember is do not get discouraged and do not give up. There are numerous opportunities just waiting for you or your child to seek them out. However, you cannot win if you do not apply.


As a Parent

Advice for Parents re. Scholarships

Written by Debbie from Oklahoma

As a parent we all want more for our children, and the number one goal we want is for our kids is for them to attend college, as a single parent money is a major issue. All I ever wanted is for her to achieve her goals and her number one goal is to work in Sports Management, her dream job would be to work with the Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Team or the New England Patriots and she knows college is her first step in achieving her goal.

Below are five hints to remember:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute; as a parent push them, help them, as a parent you can always ask the teachers to e-mail you if their grades are slipping you should start this their freshman year of high school. At the beginning of their junior year they should already be looking into schools they might want to attend and looking at the cost don’t wait until the last minute start looking on line at the free scholarships. Also in their junior year they should be taking the ACT and keeping their grades up.

2. Have your child talk to the school counselor, ours were great, but again your child has to do some work, writing and applying for the scholarships. My daughter was a soccer manager and a wrestling mat maid and yes they are busy but remind them of their goals. The counselor also made sure we all applied for the FAFSA it was great for us and it took a load off my mind so please apply even if you think you won’t qualify.

3. Apply and write essays, keep trying, don’t give up. In hindsight I should have pushed harder on the essay’s but, I backed off this is her life and it’s her lesson to learn. She now knows the cost of college and she will have student loans she will have to work to pay back but it is making her work harder to reach her goals.

4. Don’t take your education for granted, this is a big one, the one my daughter blows up when she see’s athletes, or just students that have a full ride and blow it. College is full of parties and fun but to throw away a free education is just sad and one day they will regret what they threw away and can’t get back.

5. As a parent I told my daughter if you want it bad enough go for it, it will mean more to you if you work for it, for nothing in life is free; all we can ask for is a little help along the way don’t be afraid to ask for help. The college has many forms of help financial, tutors, or there are just people there if you need to talk.

As parents all we wish for is our children’s well being and happiness.


College Planning Advice from Parents

Written by Mark from Georgia

Planning for college as a parent seems to be an overwhelming task. Especially if you student has a long time before college. Fortunately if you are lucky enough to be looking at many years before you ship off your future president you have a lot of cheap options that you won’t as your student gets closer to that date.

The first thing that anyone thinks about when the C word is used is $$$. Will it be $ or $$ or $$$? The obvious answer is $$$ so you need to begin thinking about it as early as you can. In today’s market setting it up the moment you reach over and feel that first kick might seem a bit late but never fear there are opportunities even if your young scientist is graduating this May assuming you get to work planning for it right now.

The earliest thing any parent should do, and most don’t, is set up a college 529 plan or similar savings vehicle. This could be done as early as the child’s birthday (as in day of birth) and should include an automatic mechanism for contribution. I know it is hard to let any income go when you are just starting out but if you can just go ahead and deduct it before you see your check it is easier than trying to pull it out every week when you have bills coming in. Ask your employer if a small contribution to the 529 can be deducted each week same as your 401K. You might balk at the idea of something as low as 1 dollar a day into that 529 plan but if you started it at birth those 365 dollars a year would balloon into the neighborhood to $10,000 if nobody contributed another dime. That is where grandparents if available are great assets. Give them the name of your financial advisor and you may find an occasional contribution to bulk up the value. Of course time is everything and makeup time is money. There are tax advantages to a 529 also like earnings are tax free and withdrawals for college expenses are tax free. Talk to a financial advisor for the limitations and advantages but by all means get a plan for your child.

Scholarships are the 2nd thing a parent needs to be aware of and opportunities occur throughout the child’s life. You may not like the Toddler Tiara scene but if there is a contest for your 5 year old with a scholarship attached don’t hesitate to grab a dress and teach her to sing the star spangled banner. You don’t have to follow the entire industry just go for the prize. Science, social studies, writing and similar fairs are huge for obtaining scholarships for your young ones. Before each school year and at least one semester Google the contests available for your child’s age group and see what projects he can work on for that year that can snag some scholarship money. Grade school is the best time get involved in these contest because not only is there a possible financial reward but it sets up your child for a lifetime of involvement and involvement = success.

If you are looking at a senior year and you did nothing up to now you have far more limited options but don’t be discouraged. Go to the guidance counselor as early as possible and get information on all the available scholarships for high school seniors and get to work. You goofed off long enough now you have a lot of makeup work to do. Get on the internet too. There are many great websites posting scholarships and your new 2nd job will be to snag everything you can. What you don’t snag you have to borrow so there is no time to waste.

SAT/ACT preparation. Enough Said. If your student fails to score high enough she won’t be going to the school she wants. Check the needed numbers with the school before you sign her up so she knows what she needs. If you are a gambler or just have a lot of money to throw around skip the prep and write the checks because your Nuclear Physics Major probably won’t pass the test high enough on the first try. She can certainly try again and again but expect writer’s cramp from all the checks you will be signing. Buy the books twist an arm or two. It is cheaper in the long run.

If you have a senior or undergraduate I cannot stress enough that tax day is in 

Get started on the FAFSA. You will not know your financial aid numbers until you do and many of the best scholarships are waiting for that information. You don’t want to be sitting there in August wondering if your aid is going to be processed in time for Susie to sit down in class. You should also be aware that if you don’t pay in full by the deadline that those classes she wants reopen to the first person who grabs them up. Susie may end up still attending but unable to get a schedule that meets her needs.

Don’t put off Orientation. Colleges schedule these for several weeks during the summer and your freshman probably can’t schedule classes until orientation day. It is tempting to wait for a later date but what they don’t tell you is that classes are being scheduled at orientation and it is first come first served. If you wait until the last Saturday orientation don’t be surprised when you Johnny comes back from the class scheduling session crying because he couldn’t get the classes he needs or he has back to back classes scheduled over the top of the supper schedule every night making it impossible for him to eat at the cafeteria. How much did you pay for that meal plan again? How much will it cost to feed him for a semester on top of that meal plan you had to buy but can’t use? Speaking of meal plans no matter how much they insist always take the all you can eat option. Your son will look at the flex account with dollar signs and chicken nuggets in his eyes but those run out fast. Check the prices of the restaurants on campus and figure out how many times Johnny can eat with them. It becomes a no brainer to give him unlimited cafeteria access with fewer flex $$.

School supplies are a much bigger issue for that first freshman move in. Expect to pay 5 or 6 hundred dollars just to get her moved in and settled. I don’t know about you but that is a huge chuck for me at any one time. Nobody says though that you have to buy everything up front. Sales come and go all year long. Get a list from the college of recommended items. Take note of any banned items like flammables, wireless routers, refrigerators over 3.6 cubic feet or microwaves over 700 watts. You need to know the limits for the campus before you buy but no law says you can’t buy the refrigerator in January, the microwave on Black Friday and the XL Twin bedding in May. Make sure you test all electrical equipment before you store it but once tested it should be good to go for fall. Again take note of your budding painter’s educational choice early as possible. Some subjects cost more in supplies. Art students can run through hundreds of dollars in extras. If you know what the major is going to be check with the department to see what kind of supplies are most likely to be needed. If the drawing instructor says all art students will be expected to buy certain quality and or name brand pads, pencils, pens, paint etc. it is a good thing to know in advance so you can shop at your leisure instead of a last minute trip to the art supply store on move in day and a second or third trip the next 2 weekends to get the rest.

There are a lot of considerations and planning when sending your student to college and I wish you well in navigating that maze. Like any good maze though the reward at the end is worth the effort.


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For more advice re. scholarships and financial aid, see the links below.

College Financing

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College Admissions Help

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College Loans for Students

Student Jobs

HomeCollege Financing Advice for Parents re. Scholarships

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