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How to access the scholarship money you’ve won

25 Jul

Yay! You got a scholarship! Congratulations!

I know what you’re thinking: “Now how do I get the MONEY?”

If you have received notice of a scholarship other than from your future college, you will want to make sure you keep track of how to access the money.

If you have more than one scholarship, make a chart (or separate file folders) with the following information:

Name and address of the organization.
Contact name at the organization and a phone number for that person.
Email address for the contact.
Amount of the scholarship
Requirement(s) to access the money
Date (if needed) to write for the funds

Typically, organizations require one or more of the following:

  • Proof of admission — a letter (or email notice) that you have been accepted to your college.
  • Proof of registration in a college or trade school — an official letter or online acknowledgement that you have made the commitment to attend that college. Registration typically requires some kind of a deposit. Contact the college registrar’s office–or see instructions online at your portal.
  • Proof of enrollment — online list of your courses or an official notice from your college that you have enrolled in classes (most require full-time attendance, typically 12 units). Contact the college registrar’s office–or see instructions online at your portal.
  • Official transcript of your completion of your first semester or first quarter. Contact the college registrar’s office–or see instructions online at your portal.
  • A letter from you requesting the funds, with an indication of where to send the check.

You cannot assume a scholarship organization will accept your own printout of grades or proof of registration. You probably have to get that official document directly from your college.

Do not expect the organization to remind you to request the funds. That’s your job! Some organizations may actually CANCEL your scholarship if you do not request the money on a timely basis.

Additionally, while some organizations continue their payments from year to year, others may require that you reapply annually. Don’t expect the organization to remind you of the process or deadline.

And most importantly . . . handwrite a sincere thank you note on nice stationery and mail it as soon as you receive the initial news of your scholarship . . . do not even wait until you get the money.

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Seniors: May 1 is decision time

12 Apr

Seniors, if you have not yet committed to your four-year college, you should be deciding and signing on that online-bottom-line in the next two weeks. May 1 is traditionally the deadline to commit.

Community college students should also be finalizing their decision, as well.

If you do not file your intent with your school of choice, there is a STRONG likelihood that you will forfeit not only your financial aid, but also your slot of admission. DO NOT DELAY!

Additionally, be prepared to pay a registration fee of $200 to $500 or more. Some universities will waive that fee if you will be receiving full financial aid. Future dorm students probably also will have to pay a dorm or other university housing fee.

If you are required to do math and English placement testing, contact the college about how and when to do that.

Check your college portal DAILY to make sure you aren’t missing important deadlines.

 

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Evaluating Financial Aid: Part 3

20 Mar

As  you and your parents look over the financial aid offers, you may be a little confused. The differing formats and terminology may seem like you’re being asked to compare apples with oranges.

Buffy Tanner, a counselor with the BOLD (Bachelor’s through Online and Local Degrees) program at Shasta College, has some helpful advice. (She was formerly part of the College OPTIONS organization, which has a mission to strengthen the college-going culture in the more rural areas of northern California by increasing opportunities for students to pursue and become informed about postsecondary education).

portland-1-jFirst, she says to make sure each college includes all five components of Cost of Attendance (some colleges don’t include all five on their award letters):

  • Tuition/Fees
  • Room/Board
  • Books/Supplies
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses

Tanner also says, “Students need to realize that the Cost of Attendance published by each school is an AVERAGE, ESTIMATED cost.  For some students, transportation costs may be more or less; they can save money by tripling up in a dorm, or by living at home, etc.  As much as possible, they should personalize that Cost of Attendance for each college to determine what they will REALLY need.”

The College OPTIONS organization has developed a Financial Aid Offer Comparison Worksheet that can help you evaluate financial aid offers. In this Excel document you can insert the numbers of each type of aid from a college (and then the next college and the next), so as to get an actual “apples to apples” comparison (instead of apples to alligators).  This tool is online:  https://collegeoptions.org/financial-aid/. (See the middle column “Tools for Award Letters” — the last bullet. There is also a link for instructions on how to use the tool.)

“There are MANY roads from point A to point B,” Tanner notes. “Some are more scenic than others, others are quicker, still others have hidden gems along the way that they don’t even know about.”

In any case, do not make rash decisions based on a quick glance of the financial aid offers. Weigh your options carefully and make sure any decision is done with the help of your parents.

 

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