By Kara Walker
How would you like to earn money for college just because you love ice cream?
Students often bemoan debt is a necessary evil in college funding. As someone who graduated college debt-free, and now helps others do the same, I can tell you that finding money is possible, like the Ice Cream “Flavor of the Month” scholarship above.
From a young age, I have had a great passion for financial and debt freedom. To pay for college I used cash, grants, and scholarships like an education award from an internship through AmeriCorps and the National Park Service. At one point I had enough scholarships that I just used the Pell Grant for gas money while saving the rest. I graduated with $10,000 in the bank.
Afterward, I started Karabout Debt-Free LLC, a college funding and scholarship consulting business. I can guarantee finding students between a dozen and 20 scholarship opportunities, worth $20,000 for college provided of course they apply and the organization grants them.
To be fair, an informed and ambitious student can do all of this themselves. Before looking at scholarships, either you or your child should be aware that other college-funding techniques could include renting textbooks and finding unique jobs. For example, I was paid to do my homework while greeting students in the marketing department and fitness center, and I also had a job as a notetaker for another student, so I earned money while sitting in class.
Yet, one of the best-kept college-funding secrets is testing out of classes.
CLEP’s (College Level Examination Program) and DSST’s (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) each cost under $100. You would study on your own and receive 3-6 credits in that specific course of study, if you pass. Afterward, you could then get reimbursed by Modern States, a voucher program that will repay test takers, thus allowing one to finish a year or two of college for free.
Several colleges, like Excelsior and Thomas Edison State College, accept almost an unlimited number of credits through testing out. Several of my friends finished college this way in half the time for only a few thousand dollars. When it’s time for scholarships, be aware that school scholarships for fall semester generally open the preceding fall, and are due the preceding April or earlier.
Once receiving a financial aid award letter from your college of choice, which shows eligibility for some main university scholarships, don’t stop there. More scholarships can often be found on the college’s financial aid page, or within your specific program.
I searched deeper at my community college, and applied to the full-ride choir scholarship, albeit after the deadline. Still, I received full-ride tuition for 2 years because there was a scholarship left. Even if you don’t qualify perfectly, ask anyways. One male friend received a scholarship for women because no one else had applied for it.
Beyond school scholarships, you could simply Google scholarships for your major, or check online scholarship databases. If you’ve exhausted all the ones you’re specifically qualified for check general scholarships that anyone can qualify – such as “What would you do in a zombie apocalypse?” “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?” and “Why do you love dogs?” etc.
Don’t give in to the lie that college graduates have to start their professional lives paying others back.
Kara Walker is a guest contributor to MyPerfectFinancialAdvisor the premier matchmaker between investors and advisors. She is the owner and founder Karabout Debt-Free LLC, where she finds students scholarships for college.