Scholarships help students manage the cost of college
With college comes the advent of tuition payments, book fees, food costs, as well as gas and/or rent expenses. Some students are fortunate enough to have outside sources providing them tuition cost and other aid. Most, however, have to pay a large portion themselves.
This brings about the question of how to pay for college. For most students, college is a full time job. Taking 18 credit hours means each student should spend on average at least 40 hours a week outside of class studying and reading, as well as doing homework.
When considering the amount of time that should be spent on school and factoring in a social life as well, it is clear to see that students are left with little time for a job. According to collegeboard.com, a moderate budget for a student living at a college for nine months is $17,400. Almost three fourths of that expense is housing and transportation costs.
In order for a student to cover those costs over the school year, earning minimum wage after taxes, a student would have to work over 83 hours a week. Clearly this won’t work for anyone, student or not. So, aside from working all summer long, how does a student get some relief from their ever increasing debt?
The answer is scholarships. While they don’t usually completely pay off the incurred costs, they do alleviate some of the pain. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition as well as room and board rates, has increased over 40 percent from 2001 to 2011.
For some students, getting scholarships was a relatively painless process. Human Development and Family Studies major McKenzie Martin got three out of the four scholarships she applied for, as well as the Trustee Scholarship from Parkland College. Her tuition being covered, she was free to use her remaining scholarships on things like her school laptop, her housing, and her books.
These scholarships greatly reduced the financial burden that Martin would otherwise be facing while attending classes. She feels that the cost of tuition is almost prohibitive for some; her friend in high school is writing off any chances of going to college simply because he doesn’t think he can pay off the debt he will inevitably accrue.
“My advice? Apply Apply Apply. You never know what you’ll end up with, but anything is better than nothing,” Martin said.
Other students haven’t had as much luck in the application process. Engineering major Megan Anders didn’t know what college she would end up going to, so she didn’t apply for any specific scholarships. The few that she did apply for had a large applicant pool and therefore a very low acceptance rate.
“I had a hard time finding scholarships that I could apply for,” Anders said. “There were so many that it was hard to differentiate between them all. Especially since I didn’t know where I wanted to go, I couldn’t apply for the four year scholarships, and that really made it difficult to get good ones.”
Another student that had trouble finding scholarships was Daniel Guiterez, a Communications major.
“I am from Chicago, and my counselor up there wasn’t very knowledgeable about the scholarships available down here,” Guiterez said. “I didn’t receive proper instructions on what to do or how to apply, so it was a mess trying to get anywhere.”
He expressed a desire to be able to show one application for multiple scholarships.
“One letter, one resume, one application,” Guiterez added.
Surgical Technology major Clarisa Phillips applied for quite a few scholarships. Several were joint scholarships, so she isn’t sure exactly how many she applied for. She ended up with four scholarships, two of which she has already used on her books and to pay for some classes.
She expressed distaste for how poor the scholarship choices at Parkland are, and explained that she cannot apply for some of the scholarships until she is accepted into the medical program. At her high school, there was a greater variety than is offered here at Parkland.
“[Scholarships] are definitely necessary to pay for college, but with so few available it is tough to find the right ones,” Phillips said.
Just finding the right scholarships is a difficult process, and once you find them, applying for them is time consuming and difficult.
Business Administration major Kenia Gonzalez talked about the learning curve involved in the application process.
“I went to some online websites, and the first time I applied it was overwhelming,” Gonzalez said. “There was so much information and so many scholarships available that I didn’t know where to start. Once I started to make sense of everything, I found a lot that seemed like they could work for me. I ended up settling for three whose criteria perfectly matched mine.”
She thinks that the scholarships should be more transparent and easy to pick up for first timers. Her advice is to apply to everything you can.
“There are so many out there I wasn’t aware of, I’m sure I missed out on quite a few good ones. You can only do so much searching before getting discouraged.” Gonzalez said.
“In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to apply to a lot more. If you think about it, even though it takes five or ten hours, maybe even a week, you’ll never get paid as much as a scholarship can offer you in the same amount of time. School is expensive, and we need all the help we can get,”
While many of Parkland’s spring scholarship deadlines have already come and gone, there are still still some scholarship opportunities that go until Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. If you miss out on the opportunity to apply for scholarships this time, there will be more next semester. Be sure to check them out if you want to get a head start on paying down your tuition.
Editor’s note: There was a mistake in the deadline of scholarships for the spring semester. The date was changed to reflect that there are still scholarships available until Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.