Scholarship opportunities for college aren’t just available to freshman. And believe it or not, you could actually end up with a surplus in funds by applying for them throughout your years in college. Nick True, a 23-year-old mechanical engineer, managed to graduate college with almost $30,000 in excess scholarship money after all of his expenses were paid.
True, who chronicles his money adventures on the blog True Tightwad, knew his parents weren’t going to be able to provide much financial support for his college education, so he started searching for scholarships while in high school. By the time he graduated, he had already secured funding for 75 percent of his college education and he didn’t stop there.
“By the time I graduated college, I got 150 percent of college paid for,” he said, netting $28,922 after all tuition expenses for his degree had been paid.
“Every single year in school I applied to more than 15 scholarships that weren’t associated with my university,” he continued. Because True had a large portion of his tuition covered by the school, the additional scholarships he won ended up not only covering the difference, but also left him with a surplus to use for living expenses.
True credits being a STEM major as a factor in his scholarship success. He and his cohorts were in high demand, which correlated with ample scholarship opportunities.
Like True, Jocelyn Panoita, 25, graduated college debt free thanks to scholarships, which she quickly realized didn’t necessarily even need to be related to her major or background.
“The strangest scholarship was a golf scholarship that had nothing to do with me playing golf,” said Panoita. The scholarship itself, which awarded her $4,000 a year, was given by the Jimmy Rane Foundation and based on leadership skills. It was funded by a golf tournament. Panoita had to go through an extensive process of essay writing and interviewing to win the scholarship.
Paonita used her experience paying for college with scholarships to become a college funding expert and start her own business called The Scholarship System. Now she helps other students figure out how to pay for college without debt and how to get scholarships for college. Part of the strategy is letting students in on a little secret: competition for scholarships isn’t so fierce after freshman year.