Scholarships, who wants them?
Getting into college is a huge hurdle, and paying for it can be an even bigger challenge. But, Park City High School scholarship advisor Dana Ardovino tells students that there are scholarships for everyone, regardless of age, grades, or family income. Park City students were awarded over $11.5 million in scholarships last year, according to Ardovino.
There are a number of different places students can find money to help them pay for college. Ardovino explained that grants, local and national scholarships, work-study federal aid, merit scholarships, and community scholarships are sources of college aid money.
Ardovino is commonly heard telling high school students, "the way you get scholarships is you get the application and you fill it out." Eric Tedford, a sophomore at the University of Utah just went through the process of figuring out how he would pay for college. Tedford said that, "filling out scholarships is definitely worth it." He also said that students should fill out all of their applications as soon as possible, because something might come up right before the deadline.
Ardovino stresses organization, and she suggests that students get a forwarding file so they can put applications in a place that tells them when they’re due.
Parents can do some of the legwork by helping students find scholarships to apply for. "Parents should take the application and put it in their child’s hand if they want to help," Ardovino advises.
If students only have time to do one thing, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the most important thing, according to Ardovino. The FAFSA form should be filled out after Jan. 1, whenever a family has their income taxes filed. Ardovino explains that federal money is given out on a first-come, first-serve basis, so students and parents should fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible. The FAFSA is available online at fafsa.ed.gov. Ardovino warns that fafsa.com is a scam and will charge victims to fill out a form that should be free.
Another source of funding for college is merit scholarships. Merit scholarships are awarded by each individual college. Often, there’s no separate application for merit scholarships so by applying to attend a school, you automatically apply for merit scholarships. This type of award is based solely on GPA and test scores and, according to Ardovino, they are one of the most common sources of award money students receive. She warns, though, that "smart schools" such as those in the Ivy League won’t offer merit scholarships, because each student they accept has high test scores and a good GPA.
Also, local individuals, businesses, and community groups offer scholarships for Park City seniors. Last year, scholarships ranged from $500 to $16,000. The donor decides on the criteria for selecting the winner of the scholarship. Ardovino urges students to apply for community scholarships because, "their chances are fantastic." Community scholarships are awarded each spring. This year’s deadline to turn in applications is April 24.
Another opportunity for students who want to attend college in Utah is the Board of Regents Scholarship. Ardovino said the Regents’ Scholarship is her new favorite scholarship and she is encouraging students to apply.
In order to qualify for a Regents Scholarship, students must complete a "rigorous curriculum" in high school, including four years of English and math, three and a half years of social studies, three years of natural science including biology, chemistry, and physics (not applied physics), and two years of foreign language. Students who complete the rigorous curriculum with a weighted GPA of 3.0 or higher will automatically receive $1,000 to attend an accredited Utah school.
Students are eligible for additional benefits as a Regents scholar such as a 75 percent tuition stipend for two years if they achieve 26 or higher on the ACT test and have a GPA above 3.5. To read the fine print, visit http://www.uheaa.org.
Ardovino considers Advanced Placement (AP) classes as scholarships. She explained that every college credit that students can earn in high school is college tuition that they won’t have to pay. AP classes save students money and time. Along with AP classes, local high schools offer concurrent enrollment classes. Concurrent enrollment classes are taught in high schools, but students earn community college credits as well as high school credits, explained Amy Regan, who works for Educational Talent Search at the South Summit School District
Additional scholarships exist, and there are a variety of websites that can help students find scholarships that target their interests and qualifications. Ardovino said that students can use websites such as http://www.fastweb.com where they create a profile, and then search for scholarships based on their qualifications and interests.
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