Who is going to pay for your college education?
by Christina Danek
photo by Manny Perez
College is overwhelmingly expensive, but don’t let the big numbers scare you away from a higher education: there are hundreds of organizations that want to help students get through college financially. Designed to help students pay for college, TJ’s Future Center is now hosting a Scholarship Wall, where students can explore various financial aid opportunities available to them.
To help enlighten students on all of the scholarships and aid opportunities available, the Thomas Jefferson Journal interviewed Future Center Coordinator Cynthia Castillo.
Thomas Jefferson Journal: What students are eligible for scholarships?
Cynthia Castillo: All scholarship requirements vary- some are GPA specific and others are not. For example, the Eagle Legacy Scholarship, which is due on March 31st has NO requirements; while the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority scholarship, which is due on April 1st, requires students to have a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. And then, of course, there are a very wide variety of scholarships with a wide variety of requirements. There is something for everybody.
TJJ: Can only top, straight-A students apply for scholarships?
Castillo: While many scholarships are for students who have done well in high school, there are scholarships that do not require a student to have a certain GPA. For example, College Invest offers two scholarships that are based on a lottery system. These are the College Invest Opportunity Scholarship and the College Invest Service Scholarship. You can find more information on these scholarships on www.collegeinvest.org.
TJJ: When should students apply for scholarships and how many should they apply for?
Castillo: Students should apply for scholarships throughout their senior year of high school. There are tons of scholarships out there and their deadlines range anywhere from July (before senior year) to June (after senior year). But freshmen, sophomores, and juniors shouldn’t feel left out because there are scholarships out there for them, too.
For example, freshmen can apply for the Early Achievers Scholarship (sponsored by College Invest). TJ Counselors gave freshmen these applications during Choice of Studies last week when they were in the computer labs. Freshmen should make sure they either bring those back or mail them directly to the address on the application. The deadline for this scholarship is June 1, 2008. There are more copies of that scholarship application in the Future Center.
Another example of a scholarship that doesn’t require a student to be a senior is the Discover Card Tribute Award. This scholarship is specifically for juniors. Unfortunately, the application deadline for this year has already passed. There are a few TJ students who applied this year. It is a really competitive scholarship and has a minimum 2.75 GPA requirement, but it is great practice for completing scholarship applications during senior year. I strongly encourage sophomores to make a note of this scholarship so that they can apply for it next year. The application usually becomes available in December each year. For more information on this scholarship, visit: http://www.discoverfinancial.com/community/scholarship.shtml
TJJ: How can students best utilize the tools available to them at the Future Center?
Castillo: The purpose of the Future Center is to work with Counselors to help all students (grades 9-12) explore and attain their post-secondary options. The Future Center is a resource room where all students are welcome. I have to say that I am impressed by how busy the students here at TJ keep me; however, there are many students who are not aware that this resource is available to them. I have worked with most of the seniors this year. However, I want to see more freshmen, sophomores and juniors visiting the Future Center. The college exploration process should NOT begin senior year. All students should begin thinking about their future early on in their high school career; that way, they will know what goals they should set for themselves and what they should do in order to reach those goals. The Future Center is open every day, (with the exception of some days when I have to be out of the building). If students have a full schedule and can’t miss their classes, they can visit the Future Center during lunch and after school.
Students of all ages, stop by the Future Center before it’s too late and find out for which scholarships you may be eligible.