How to Obtain Funds for College
My name is J.P. Dennis. At one time I took out $10,000 in loans but soon learned how I could get my college paid for in full without resorting to student loan debt. The financial aid I received has covered my books, tuition, rent, and food. Without going into personal detail I am going to explain to you some tips I have for getting your schooling paid for without a student loan. I talk to a lot of college students and they want to know how I did it, and so I am going to share that with you. I will also discuss tips on how to handle the money and observations I have made through personal experience.
This is my Statement of Belief: Any individual in any situation can get their college paid for in full without resorting to student loan debt.
I am going to explain to you how I came to this conclusion and some basic steps that you can take to get to this point. I have done quite a bit of research and have been "down that road before". I even took out a student loan in 2009 to attend school, but there were several key points that I was missing and the first one begins with believing the money is there and that there are resources and people available to help in the process of obtaining a debt-free education.
I realize that not everyone is going to agree with some of the statements or ideas that I practice here, but I have found them to work and be effective. Every individual has a story and are in different circumstances. Therefore all outcomes are determined by you. I supply what you can say is encouragement, tips, and ideas from the "School of Hard Knocks".
"B" is for Believe!
Step 1 - Believe the Money is Available To You
One of the biggest obstacles that keep individuals from going after scholarship money is that they believe they will not qualify for it. While there are scholarships that are very specific and geared towards certain individuals (which we will discuss in Step 3), you need to understand that there are funds available to everyone. However, keep in mind that you may have to go about doing it a little differently.
Often people make poor excuses such as:
- "My parents make too much money to qualify for federal aid."
- "I don't have enough money to go to school."
- "There is nothing special about me."
- "There are no scholarships for me."
- "I am not good at writing essays."
- "I don't have any talents."
- "There will not be enough money to pay for everything without a loan."
The only thing that makes the statements above a reality is that you believe them. Even if you do not fully believe money is available at first you can use a concept called autosuggestion. Autosuggestion is basically where you repeat a phrase with faith (perhaps once or twice a day) until I starts manifesting itself into its physical equivalent. Another words, you start to believe in these statements you are repeating daily and they will in turn start encouraging you to take the proper steps and action toward your goals. (You might even find you are making good progress without even realizing it!)
So, if you would like to believe that there is money for you then begin taking the first steps. Replace the phrases and thoughts you are personally struggling with. Your self affirmations could be something along these lines:
- "I will find another way to pay since I do not qualify at this time for federal aid."
- "I will be easy to get enough money to go to school."
- "There are a lot of special things about me that qualify me for scholarships."
- "There are A LOT of scholarships available just for me."
- "I am a great essay writer."
- "I am very talented."
- "I will get everything paid for without a loan."
I would highly reading the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I refer to this book a lot in my blogs because it is responsible for helping me change my thought process around.
So, have the faith that the money is available.
Step 2 - Establish Personal Connections
We are now in the age of computers and technology. Every day it seems like people become more and more disconnected with one another. You need to understand that when looking for scholarships it is so important to have someone that you become friends with at the university. This could be your assigned adviser, but make the steps to meet as many people as possible. Let them know who you are and let them know what you want. Perhaps you could walk into the financial aid department and say, "Hello, my name is So-and-So and I would like to sit down and talk to someone about financial aid." Be careful because a lot of times they may tell you that all the information you need is online. And while you do NEED to fill out all of the information online, there may be money available through other means.
Before making these connections I would strongly advise you to get everything you are responsible for done. This will show that you have done your "homework" and are actively searching for scholarship money.
Many universities have essays that you can write or people of influence in different departments. Especially if you are new let these people get to know you and the seriousness that you have towards your education. Set that determination in your mind now! Repeat twice a day, "I will get my education paid for in full". Then keep an eye out for opportunities. They could be in a form such as work study or special scholarships/grants.
Establish your personal connections as early as possible and check in with these people frequently for news and updates. This will reinforce your connection with them and prove your sincerity. Also, if they bring up student loans as a possibility just respectfully decline perhaps like this: "I have personally made the decision to not take out any student loan debt. I truly believe I can get the money for school." Believe it or not, you will be respected for that decision but be prepared for people to disagree with you.
Create a List!
Step 3 - Do the Research
For High School Students (Others please read, too!): Perhaps the worst mistake I made was not doing enough research on scholarships and grants while in high school. Your guidance councilor can be a great place to start, but do not "put all of your eggs in one basket." Talk to your teachers, current college students, college representatives, parents, friends, etc. Do some online research. There are even a few good books to read on the subject. Many of the scholarships available to high school students done by essays or certain talents you have. Hone those skills and apply for as many scholarships as possible. Often you can use the same essay for multiple application... sometimes you may need to tweak it to fit the individual place you are submitting.
For All: Online websites can be helpful, but I have found that the scholarships can be harder to get because so many people apply for them and the websites that host the information are doing it because of the money. This is why I recommend getting a list at your future university or high school first and start with that.
When doing researching get to know yourself. You should sit down by yourself and with maybe a parent or friend to find out what makes you special. When you do this look for the good, the bad, and the in-between. I like to look at it like this: opportunities for money come through Advantages and Disadvantages. Both I believe are equally important. Disadvantages can be actually be advantages when it comes to getting financial aid.
You should literally sit down and write them down in two columns. (Look right for an example! Please note this is not my real list.) Now, here is list of possibilities to look at, but do not limit it to this list. Add as you need.
- Good grades
- Good ACT/SAT score
- Extracurricular - Sports, Music Ensembles, Clubs, etc.
- Volunteer Work
- Hobbies / Interests
- Family member in the military
- Low Family Income
- Are you a minority?
- Do you have a disability?
- Death of One or Both Parents
- What are your weaknesses?
I would love to put everything in one category, but each is approached a different way. While my list of advantages could be use to look for scholarship applications which you write essays, the disadvantages you may need to take a different route such as set up an appointment with a certain agency such as a veterans group or vocational rehab. Remember, be careful who you share your information with regardless of if it is an advantage or disadvantage.
[My "call for help": Please comment below with any Advantages or Disadvantages you believe I should post.]