The best form of need-based and merit-based financial aid comes directly from a college or university. Need-based aid depends on a family’s financial situation while merit-based aid, also known as scholarships, comes from student achievement or talent. This can be in the areas of academics (grades and test scores), visual and performing arts, community service, leadership, athletics, and more. It takes effort to research scholarships provided by each college, but it is worth it.
Some things to know when exploring scholarships:
Locate the financial aid section of each college to see what types of scholarships they offer.
Check carefully for scholarships that require an extra application or additional requirements.
Be aware of stacking and displacement. When a student receives a scholarship and need-based aid, the college may stack the aid, allowing the student to receive both, or displace one form of financial aid with the other.
Students may also be able to find scholarships through local businesses, service organizations, or even their parents’ employers. It is wise to conduct a Google search to see what is out there. Organizations such as the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Port of Los Angeles, and other organizations may provide financial opportunities.
High Achieving Underrepresented Students
There are several large scholarships that are available to high achieving students from underrepresented groups such as low-income students or minorities. These include Questbridge, The Posse Foundation, the Gates Scholarship, and others.
The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)
California is in a group of states that offer a tuition exchange called the Western Undergraduate Exchange or WUE. Participating colleges require a minimum GPA and/or test score to qualify. Some colleges award the WUE rate automatically and some award the rate to only a few students. WUE nonresident tuition discounts average up to $9,400 per year making these schools more affordable than some California schools.
RaiseMe is a website that allows students to earn micro-scholarships based on grades, activities, work experience, and more. Participating colleges guarantee that students will be awarded a minimum amount of scholarship money based on the accurate information provided. RaiseMe is a great way for a student to gauge how much a college might award in merit aid as well as earn scholarship money that would otherwise not be available. Students can start adding their grades and activities as early as 9th grade and watch their scholarships build up throughout their high school years. Check out iLEAD’s RaiseMe page.
To explore and learn more about financial aid, make an appointment with our College Advisor, Laura Kazan.
Keep an eye out for our webinar on financial aid and the college search in April.
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