BOSTON (CBS) – High School Senior Jaelin Ramsey is working hard to maintain her perfect 4.0 grade point average and has applied to 14 colleges. She’s excited about going to college, but nervous about how her mom is going to pay for it. “If money wasn’t an object, I would attend Columbia in New York. That’s my first choice,” she said.
But money is an object and Jaelin’s mother, Carla, doesn’t feel financially prepared to start writing out those giant checks in just a matter of months. “I would just hate for her to miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime because you can’t afford it,” she said.
College admissions consultant Mark Lewis says there is still time to figure out a way to pay for school next fall. “If you are a high school senior and you’re looking at this right now, the first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is start looking up scholarships,” he said.
WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports
There are several websites that will help you search out the more than $15 billion in scholarships that are available right now to college-bound students. “They even have scholarships for people who are left-handed,” Jaelin said.
When you search for scholarships, experts say don’t dismiss the smaller ones. Larger awards will be automatically bundled into your financial aid packages, but smaller amounts, between $500 and $1,000, are sent directly to the student. Big corporations are another place to look for scholarships. Companies like Walmart, Coca-Cola and Burger King give away thousands of dollars every year.
When it comes to writing the scholarship applications, the essay is crucial. Craft a strong personal statement detailing your passions, achievements and hardships. “If you write a good admissions essay, the scholarships are easy because it’s simply cut, paste and tweak,” Lewis said.
When you get your financial aid package, experts say look at it carefully. “You don’t want to get a great 95% financial aid package as a freshman and find out as a sophomore that you are only getting 40% or 60%. Then you have to reevaluate your whole situation,” Lewis warned.