Make Ends Meet: Applying for scholarships

With college tuition increasing in the United States so is student debt.
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 9:09 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - With college tuition increasing in the United States so is student debt.

The average college student graduates with about $30,000 in student loans. That’s a great deal of money and a pretty heavy burden. 

Before you dismiss the thought of getting a higher education there are scholarships that can help you make ends meet and unlike loans it is free money. Scholarships are more important than ever before. 

Jennifer Finetti is a Scholarship and Financial Aid Expert with ScholarshipOwl ( ) a personalized scholarship matching service and management tool.

”A lot of students get really overwhelmed at the idea of applying for scholarships and it’s so overwhelming and sort of scary that they may give up before ever really trying,” Finetti said. 

Going to college can be exciting, uncertain, and often very costly. As scary and as time consuming as the search for a scholarship may be, it can pay off in the end.

”The biggest mistake is simply giving up before you apply for any or only applying for a few,” Finetti said.

Finetti recommends three types of scholarships to focus on-local, university or college based and private scholarships.

“Local scholarships are in their community,” Finetti said.

Students can reach out to their guidance counselors if they are still in high school, or they can contact the financial aid office of the college they plan to attend or are attending. 

Local scholarships are often targeted toward a smaller pool of applicants and the award amount may be smaller but every dollar counts.

The U.S. Department of Labor also has a free scholarship tool that may also help you find local scholarships.

“Also of course apply for scholarships offered by Universities,” Finetti said.

Most colleges and universities have scholarship opportunities. 

It will take time and effort to research, review and apply for those scholarships. These awards could come in the form of need-based or an academic award.

“Students should also apply to external private scholarships which are the type we have on the scholarship owl platform,” Finetti said.

External private scholarships come from organizations other than the government or the college or university you are interested in. 

Many foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups offer private scholarships. Apply for them all. More scholarships mean less debt.

“There’s a lot of new kinds of scholarships that many students may not have heard of, and this is a great time to explore all of those options,” Finetti said. “The more you apply the greater your chances of winning.”

Whatever you do and wherever you go, make sure you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid better known as FAFSA. It gives you access to the largest source of financial aid whether its federal grants, work-study, or loans.

”You also need to complete the FAFSA every year because the family income changes every year,” Finetti said.

Be aware of scams!

  • You should not pay to apply for a scholarship.
  • Do not give your bank account or credit card info to apply for a scholarship.
  • If you won a scholarship, you never applied for, be leery and check it out.
  • Someone sends you a scholarship check.
  • Someone requests unusual information.
  • Never pay to fill out FAFSA.