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Scholarship opportunities

By Leigh Anne Butler

Area high schools are back in session and as expected the first few weeks of school are busy for parents and students. Scholarships and college applications are probably not on the minds of most students right now, but they should be. 

Fall is the time to start looking at colleges and universities, planning campus visits and applying for admission. Many colleges and universities offer merit-based scholarships that are based strictly on GPA and test scores.  These offers can make a difference in the affordability of a particular school.

Alabama colleges and universities will participate in Alabama’s Free Application Week Oct. 16-20. During this week, participating colleges will waive their application fees. This is the perfect time for students to apply to all state colleges they are possibly interested in attending. Most schools offer merit-based scholarships based on application requirements and acceptance. This can be a great starting point to help narrow down school choices based on the affordability of a given school based on merit-based offers awarded.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application college students complete to apply for federal, state and college and university financial aid. The state of Alabama requires all graduating seniors to complete the FAFSA for high school graduation and most colleges and universities require submission of the FAFSA form to be considered for financial aid from their institution. The FAFSA portal typically opens on Oct. 1 of each year, but due to the form being modified the start date is delayed until December this year. Completing the FAFSA early has advantages. Campus-based financial aid is much more limited than federal financial aid. Each college has a set amount of funding so the money can run out. For this reason, it is important to complete your FAFSA as soon as possible to ensure funding you qualify for. Some schools may offer grants to students who complete the FAFSA early. 

Many students apply for scholarships in the spring semester of their senior year in high school, and while that is the busiest time for applying for scholarships, it isn’t the only time. The sooner you start looking for and applying, the better chance you have of being awarded. There are scholarships with deadlines all year round.  When you find scholarships with fall deadlines, you have a better chance of winning since most students are not thinking about scholarships now, resulting in less competition.

Phillip Nelson, Tallassee High School Career Coach, is available to assist THS students with college and career preparedness. “As a college and career coach, I’m here to help students with anything college or workforce related,” Nelson explained. “Whether it is college applications, scholarship help, FAFSA competition, or helping students who are going straight to the workforce with lining up interviews with potential employers, I am here to help.”

“The earlier you start, the better. Colleges have deadlines for admissions and scholarship applications, and they are different at each school. It’s important to know the deadlines at the school students are interested in. That’s where I can help.”