I hear all the time about how student loan debt is crippling Generation Y. In the past decade, average student loan debt has surged to $25,000 in Canada and almost $30,000 in the US. Debts like those are delaying some in Gen Y from reaching important life milestones like getting married, having kids, and owning a home.
[*Scroll Down for a Preview Chapter on Scholarship Myths!]
Adding to these challenges is the fact that Generation Y, unlike the generation before it, is graduating at a time when youth unemployment and underemployment are rampant.
As someone who managed to complete two university degrees in one of the most expensive cities in North America to live in (Vancouver, BC in case you’re wondering) without going into debt and as someone with 5 years experience doing scholarship and admissions consulting, I knew that I had to do something. Through scholarships, hard work and frugal living I not only managed to make it through two degrees, but I graduated with over $40,000 in the bank.
In The Complete Guide to a Debt-Free Education, I take you through the Debt-Free Education process right from the beginning:
- I start by helping you choose a school based on their financial aid, tuition prices, available scholarships, and prospects after graduation.
- I then show you how to identify, apply for and win scholarships and bursaries that will help you take on fewer student loans.
- In the next section, I give you 100 ideas and tips to help you make money while you’re in school.
- The book finishes with 250 tips on how to live frugally so that you can take on less debt.
So, how much does something like this cost? I want the purchase of this e-book to be frugal as well so instead of selling it for $29.99 or $19.99, I am selling it for only $4.99 or less if you catch a promo! Click here to buy it on Amazon.
An Excerpt From The Complete Guide to a Debt-Free Education:
Myths About Scholarships:
Before we start, I want to address those who would say that they don’t qualify for scholarships or that scholarships are too hard to win or that applying is not worth it. The reality is that tens of billions of dollars in scholarships and other financial aid are given out in North America every year. You read that right. Not one billion. Not just several billions. TENS OF BILLIONS! That’s a lot of money. Who says you can’t win one? Maybe you’re telling yourself that because you believe one of these myths.
Myth #1 – Only the students with the highest grades get scholarships.
When I was in high school I had a good friend who graduated the year before I did. John* worked really hard and graduated with the highest average at my school. Unsurprisingly, John got offered free tuition from his top choice school. When I heard about how well John had done I was happy for him but also a little worried about what that would mean for me. I had high marks but I wasn’t at the top of my class. Would schools offer me anything at all?
We all know a John. The problem is that their very public success often gives us a false impression about scholarships. When we see people like John winning lots of money, we think that you have to be like them to win scholarships or that only those at the very top of the class win all the money.
Thankfully, that’s not true. I didn’t know when John told me about his success but by that time next year I would have been awarded more money through leadership and community service scholarships than John had gotten from his top choice university for his marks alone. The important thing to remember is that scholarships are given out for lots of different reasons.
I like to say that there are many different pools of scholarship money. Universities and colleges often have one pool of money that they use as a way to attract the very smartest students like John. They also often have another pool of money to help students who have financial need. Some schools want more leaders in their ranks and so have a pool of money for leadership scholarships. Other schools want people from diverse backgrounds and so have a pool of money to help those applicants. And that’s not even starting on external scholarships where people offer scholarships for all kinds of things like being left-handed, tall, or even a D student.
Myth #2 – Only the kids who do all the activities/extra-curriculars get scholarships.
So, I’ll be honest. I was one of those kids. The leadership scholarships that I won which make up over one third of my total scholarship haul were from being the kid who did all the activities. I went to nursing homes. I organized blood drives. I created a volunteer council to help other students get involved and volunteer. Just like John, there are people like me and my fellow leadership scholarship winners who make people believe that scholarship recipients have to fit one kind of mold.
But let’s get back to my concept of pools of money. Leadership scholarships are just another pool of money in the vast world of scholarships. Sometimes this is hard to remember since leadership scholarships and the marks-based scholarships that John won are often the largest, flashiest, most talked about scholarships. Who wouldn’t pay attention to a $50,000 scholarship like the TD Canada Trust Scholarship that I was a finalist for? $50,000 is a lot of money.
So, what if you were busy being a normal average teenager who wasn’t a leader, didn’t spend all their time volunteering, and didn’t have the best marks? Are there scholarships for you? YES! You just have to find the right ones and apply for them. I assure you that there are scholarships where you are the perfect recipient and they’re waiting for someone like you to apply. Every year millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed. Forget about all the flashy $50,000 leadership scholarships and find the pools of money with your name on them.
Myth #3 Scholarships are only for those in great need.
I had some problems with this myself when I was applying for scholarships. Technically, my parents could already afford to send me to school. The problem was that I didn’t think the school in my hometown was a good fit for what I wanted to study and I also wanted the experience of living away from home while going to school. Should I feel guilty about applying for scholarships when other people might need them more? Would I even qualify for scholarships? Didn’t they all take financial need into account?
While there are some scholarships that do indeed take financial need into account, most merit-based scholarships don’t. Generally, if people want their money going to help those in greatest need, they give funds in the form of bursaries or grants. People who are giving away scholarships often want to give it to someone who belongs to a particular group (like those who are left-handed), meets certain criteria (like being the son or daughter of someone working at XYZ company), or has the capability to be or do certain things in the future (like be a future leader or teacher).
Even with those scholarships that do take financial need into account, it’s important to look at the criteria. I’ve worked with people who have been surprised that they qualify as ‘financially needy’ according to the terms of certain scholarships. Each scholarship often has very different criteria. Some take into account how many children your parents have to determine financial need. Others will only count the income of the parent you live with if your parents are divorced. What’s important is not to count yourself out in case you’re not sure. I was certain that I didn’t qualify for need based scholarships. Turns out, I realized years later that because I lived with my mom and she didn’t make very much money that I did.
And even if you don’t qualify as financially needy, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for scholarships. I was so lucky to get the scholarships that I did and I wouldn’t have been able to get the education that I got without the help of those scholarships. The people or organizations that set up those scholarships wanted to help people like me do exactly that. There is nothing to feel ashamed about.
Myth #4 – Scholarships are not worth all the work.
I’m not going to lie to you and say that applying for scholarships is easy. There is a lot involved in a successful scholarship application. Unfortunately, so many scholarships want you to write or submit very specific things and while you can often repurpose some parts of one scholarship application for another scholarship application, for a better chance of success its best if spend some extra time customizing your application for each scholarship. So, applying for scholarships is time consuming.
But consider these numbers. The average scholarship is $2,000 and on average you have to apply for 10 scholarships to win one award. Let’s say applying for those 10 scholarships will take about 30 hours. How much would you earn per hour at that rate? Over $66 per hour. I don’t know very many people who can make that much per hour! And I definitely don’t know any teenagers who can.
Also, if that money means that you need fewer student loans then you need to factor in the extra money in interest that you’re saving. What’s more, aside from just giving you wonderful, helpful money, scholarships are also something great to put on your resume. Potential employers, graduate school admissions committees, and, yes, other scholarship committees love to see you’ve received other awards. Success breeds success!
Still think it’s not worthwhile to apply for scholarships?
Myth #5 – I don’t have time to apply
Okay, okay, I’ve admitted that applying for scholarships takes time. But if you start early and spread it out over the year, it doesn’t need to consume you. Scholarship deadlines come at different times, after all, so you could get by with only spending a few hours every week working on scholarship applications. Decide to commit to the process and apply for scholarships instead of watching TV one night, or playing videogames. Or spend one or two lunch hours a week in the library at your school working. When I was applying for scholarships, I was also working two part-time jobs for a total of 20 hours per week, spending 10-15 hours a week doing volunteer work, and working hard to keep my grades up. But I started in the summer and I realized the importance of making time for scholarship applications. The key is to make it a priority and devote whatever leftover time you have towards it.
But what if you didn’t start in the summer like I did and now you’re in the middle of the hussle and bussle of the school year and all your extra-curricular commitments, how will you find time to apply for everything? You can only work with the time you have so I would suggest spending as much time as possible getting the materials for your application ready. Want to go out with friends? Maybe skip this weekend.
Your older self will thank you someday. Then, you need to prioritize which scholarships are best suited for you to apply for. By devoting your time first to the scholarships you have the highest chance of winning, you’re far more likely to be successful and you’ll waste less time applying for scholarships for which you would have a lower chance of success.
I should note that this myth is actually one that works in your favour. Because other people think that they don’t have time to apply for scholarships, fewer people apply for awards that you might expect. That means your chances of winning a scholarship are actually much better than you might think.