By Eliana Taylor, Regular ContributorAugust 23, 2015
Amidst the mounds of stories that tell students they can’t get through college without accruing mounds of debt, I want to tell you that it IS possible to get through college debt free.
While it has taken me a lot of time and concentrated effort to get here, I am on my third year of college, and I am still debt free!
In light of that, here are some helpful tips on how to get through college with your wallet still intact.
1.) Don't go through High School with the attitude like there is nothing after it ends.
While not all scholarships are based on grades and academic standings, having a good GPA and academic standing opens up more opportunities for scholarships.
2.) Scholarships and Grants are NOT the same thing.
Make sure you look at both of them. A lot of foundations and organizations that you wouldn't think offer scholarships, actually do offer a lot of money for students. There are also a lot of grants that the government gives out, so look at what you apply for.
3.) There are scholarships for everyone.
There is literally a scholarship for being tall. If that doesn't prove that you don't need to be in the top of your class to receive a scholarship, then I don't know what will. Sign up for a couple scholarship sites and see what pops up. As long as it doesn't look like scam (ie it should never ask for your credit card information) apply for it.
image via thinkadvisor.com
4.) Apply to everything!
Even if you don't think you will get something based on the qualifications of the scholarship, still apply! I knew a Caucasian female who received a scholarship that was for African Americans because she was the only person that applied...So apply to EVERYTHING!
5.) Apply early.
January is typically when everything starts opening up for the following school year. Take the time in the fall semester to find the scholarships you would like to apply for, and then when their applications open up, apply for them all. This will help you get your foot in the door early, so when summer starts you aren't stressing about hitting the deadlines for the scholarships.
6.) Write, leave and then rewrite.
A lot of scholarships require an essay. An easy and helpful way to write these is to read the prompt for the essay and then immediately write what comes to mind while trying to stay within the limits the essay requires. Don't worry about spelling or grammatical errors. Then leave it for 24 hours, come back the next day, reread the prompt, and then read and fix what you have written. This helps you get your main ideas out in one session, which is extremely helpful when you have trouble getting the length of an essay out.
7.) Pace yourself.
A lot of students wait till the very end to fill out all their scholarship applications and tend to get overwhelmed because there is so much to do. What helped me get through a lot of scholarship applications was pacing myself through them. Set a goal of one or two a week, that way you give yourself time to write quality essays and you aren't overwhelmed by the mass amount of filling out you have to do.
If you find yourself still falling short of that tuition line, write an appeal to your financial aid office explaining how much money you are short that year and how much you need to make it. The worst they can tell you is no, and surprisingly, a lot of the time they will be able to give you a little to help out with your college expenses.
9.) Talk to one of your school's financial aid counselors.
If you still find yourself struggling to work your way through the year, set up an appointment with one of your school's financial aid counselors. They are there to help you and will have a couple options on what you can do. They might even be able to offer some more place that you can look for funds.
Not everyone is going to be able to make it through college with no expenses and there have been a couple semesters where I have had to dish out a couple hundred dollars out of pocket. But with hard work and dedication it is an achievable goal for every single person.
How have you paid for college? What obstacles have you hit? How did you overcome them? Tell us below!
Eliana (pronounced Ee-lee-ah-nuh) has been all over the United States and is now studying at Colorado State University Pueblo. She started off her undergraduate studying to be an Elementary Education teacher and is now an English major with minors in Political Science, Communication and Rhetoric and Honors. She competes on her universities Speech and Debate team and loves every second of it. She also loves to travel, write poetry and is all about “you being you because nothing else will do.”
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.