It’s worth the time to research college scholarships

Figuring out how to pay for a college education can be difficult, especially as many American families are struggling in the wake of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Scholarships can make a big difference, but many students think the only people who can get them are the valedictorians or star athletes.

That’s not the case, says Fairmont Principal Dan Von Handorf. “There are an absolute ton of scholarships out there,” he said recently.

To illustrate his point, Von Handorf pointed out that the Class of 2011 took advantage of the available scholarships and earned just over $6 million to go to college. “It was pretty amazing,” he said.

So how do students find these scholarships? It can take some time and effort to uncover these opportunities, but the pay off can be well worth the time spent. Fairmont’s guidance counselors have information about scholarships, including drawers of applications. “An even better place to look is under the guidance section of the FHS website,” said East Unit Guidance Counselor Cheryl Abraham. Click HERE to visit the scholarship tab.

An important local opportunity is the Dayton Montgomery County Scholarship program, which awards 500-600 scholarships ranging in value from $300 to $1,400 each year to students with financial need who have a GPA of at least 2.5. For applications and more information about Dayton Montgomery County Scholarships, ask your guidance counselor. Applications must be returned to the Fairmont Guidance Department by Feb. 12 for submission. For more information, click HERE.

Sinclair Community College also offers the Tech Prep scholarship to juniors and seniors in Tech Prep programs in high schools. “Last year we had a ton of kids earn the Tech Prep scholarship,” said Von Handorf.  The $3,000 scholarship provides support for students pursuing an associate’s degree in the Tech Prep program at Sinclair. The scholarship can be used at the college within three years following high school graduation. Applications are due April 1, 2012.

Students also can earn scholarships through various competitions. Optimist International, for example, offers three competitions – an Essay Contest, an Oratorical Contest and a Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Winners can earn up to $2,500 in scholarships. Local entries are coordinated through the Kettering Noon Optimist Club. For more information, click HERE

The bottom line is that students may be surprised by what they find if they put the effort into searching for scholarship opportunities that can help them achieve their dream of going to college.

“A lot of the time there are unused scholarships out there,” said Von Handorf. “It’s the kids’ responsibility to apply. It would be great if all our seniors looked on the website.”