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A Newbies Guide to Online Scholarship Resources (Part one of a three-part series)

By Michelle Post

Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District continue to climb, making more and more students likely to head off to college.  Recent data released by the Colorado Department of Education shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate in Douglas County is now 90.1 percent.

College is not cheap, and it does not look like tuition and fees will stop rising anytime soon.  A recent review of “Trends in College Pricing 2016” revealed that the average published in-state tuition with fees in the public four-year sector was $9,650; add room and board charges and the total increased to roughly $20,090.  The numbers for out-of-state were even higher – tuition and fees averaged $24,930 with total fees averaging $35,370.  If you go the private, nonprofit four-year route, you are looking at $33,480 with total fees of $45,370.

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you and spiked your cortisol levels, permit me to provide some hope.  It is never too early to begin looking for scholarship and grant monies for college.  I recommend the best time to start is when the college freshman is born.  No, seriously.

But you say, “My child is already in high school and needs help now!”  Enter the Internet and Google, a killer scholarship search duo.  With a little bit of research and the right keywords, you will find a surplus of websites that provide scholarship information, how-to guides, best practices and so much more to help your future college graduate to be debt-free or near debt-free upon graduation.

I need to warn you; finding, applying for, and winning scholarships is not an overnight process, it can take several months.  But knowing where to start is the hardest step.  All Douglas County high schools provide counseling and resources to help seniors in their search for scholarships, so check with your student on their progress.  They are, after all, entering adulthood and should take some responsibility and ownership for their education, right?  In total in Douglas County, the class of 2016 earned nearly $68 million in scholarships.

If, however, you want to help them get a head start, I have compiled a resource to provide that starting point:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”          – Dr. Seuss, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”



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