Strengthen Your Family Through Biblical Homeschooling

Tag: Scholarships

Of the many thoughts racing through a student’s mind as he approaches high school graduation, two of his preoccupations are likely, “What do I want to do for a career?” and “How do I pay for this?”

The affordability of a college education is a determining factor in whether a student goes to college at all. ‘Financial Aid’ is a broad term used by colleges to encapsulate all financial options – from scholarships to grants to loans. Knowing how to combine financial aid options with responsibility and hard work will provide students with an answer to the question, “How do I pay for this?”

Here are some tips:

1. Federal Grants and Loans

Most colleges and universities will ask your family for the FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a federal form based on your taxes from the previous year which allows the government to determine a students’ Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Based on the EFC, the government will designate an eligible amount of aid to that student. Some of this aid will be grants (do not need to be paid back) and some of it may be loans (must be paid back starting six months after graduation).

Students should read the fine print on the awards they accept to determine whether the amount is indeed a grant or if it is a loan. If taking out loans, students should pay close attention to the Loan Entrance Counseling required by the government, and would be wise to seek financial counsel on how much to borrow. It is better to keep loans as a last resort when other options (discussed below) have been exhausted.

2. State/Organizational Grants and Scholarships

Some states, like Florida, give out ‘Promise Scholarships’ to high achieving students. These scholarships may have limitations (GPA, location, or attending a specific university/college) but are worth looking into! Organizational scholarships are awards specific to certain corporations and businesses. Walmart, General Electric, Associated Press have all been known to have scholarships available. Smaller groups such as the Rotary Club or local businesses are also willing to help out students who show ambition and creativity. Look for awards in your hometown or search out corporations you have connections with.

3. Work Study/Campus Jobs

Federal Work Study is a form of aid for which students qualify through the FAFSA. This aid caps at $4000 per year and is earned by working a campus job. The funds can be sent directly to your loans or student account, or they can be given to you like a regular paycheck. A student can also determine the percentage of his paycheck he wishes to send toward his student account: i.e., 60% to account, 40% via paycheck. Regardless of whether a student qualifies for work study, he can very likely acquire a job on campus to help pay for books and incidentals.

4. School Specific Scholarships

University aid is aid through the school itself. Academic scholarships specific to the university with their own GPA and test score qualifications, scholarships based on ethnicity, and association with certain extracurricular groups and societies (such as Phi Theta Kappa) are all opportunities for additional aid. Both state and private colleges will list a wide variety of scholarships for which students can apply. For instance – Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan offers an award of $500 per year to Polish-American students. That’s enough to cover books!

5. Spend Wisely

It is very easy to spend money in high school and college, especially when everyone around you seems to have a bottomless bank account. Starting financial responsibility in high school (or even earlier!) will create habits that will last through a student’s college years. Saving money, budgeting for fun expenditures (eating out, shopping, travel), and avoiding debt are great ways to both fund your college education and guarantee wise decisions when paying for school. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is one option for financial education that comes highly recommended for soon-to-be college students!


Working hard and making wise decisions when it comes to college will pay off in the long run. Students who work for and through college tend to value their education more because it was earned! Be sure to check out sites like for additional scholarships from outside organizations.


Preparing Your Teens for College: Helping Them Face the Challenges: Faith, Finances, and Friendships - eBook - By: Alex Chediak



For more on financial assistance and preparing for college, you may want to look at the eBook, “Preparing Your Teens for College: Helping Them Face the Challenges: Faith, Finances, and Friendships“, available in the Teach Them Diligently store.

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Article contribution by, Phylicia Duran, who is a 2008 home school graduate and alum of Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian university. Her educational background includes dual enrollment, CLEP testing, community college, online courses and residential study. She has filled the roles of Admissions Counselor, Social Media Coordinator and currently Coordinator of Group Visits at Liberty University and is passionate about spiritual and vocational discipleship, especially as related to home education.

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College For Free?

With the cost of college rising faster and student loan debt reaching astronomical proportions, many students are looking for alternative ways to earn their college degrees and to be able to do it debt free. Most people are familiar with the typical route one must follow to get student aid: the first step is to fill out the FAFSA forms (which, by the way, nearly half of high school students forget to do!), complete the appropriate college aid and scholarship forms, and search for other available scholarships and grants. But what if I told you that we never followed any of these steps and we were still able to get college for free?


Yes, you can go to college for FREE! Typically, this ‘free’ money comes in the form of scholarships, fellowships, or grants, all of which the student does NOT have to pay back (unlike student loans). Most of you are familiar with academic, merit-based, or sports scholarships, and I’m sure you always hear about that “full-ride scholarship” that everyone is shooting for. According to author Mark Kantrowitz, who is publisher of FastWeb and FinAid, less than 20,000 students a year receive a completely free ride to college. And Lynn O’Shaughnessy has noted that “among full-time college students at four-year colleges, just .3% received enough grants and scholarships to cover the full cost of college. These lucky students received a full ride through any combination of money from the colleges themselves, federal and state grants and outside private scholarships. The odds of receiving a full-ride private scholarship is even more remote. According to Kantrowitz, there are less than 250 private scholarships in this country that provide enough money to cover all college costs.”

So, if this is the case, what is one to do?


Well, there are a few options. If your student is not eligible to receive enough scholarships to cover the cost of tuition, you may want to check into tuition- free colleges available throughout the country. You may have to be from a certain state or region, from a low-income background, or may have to commit to on-campus work or service after graduation to qualify, but this may be an answer for one of your students. Like to travel and explore other countries? Several countries offer free college to eligible students as well. Or you can earn your college degree nontraditionally like my son did by going through one of the Big Three Colleges: Thomas Edison State University, Charter Oak, or Excelsior College for a FRACTION of the cost! By combining the work he was already doing in Jr. high and high school with earning college credits, my son was able to get his associates degree by age 15 and his accredited bachelor’s by 17- and the best part…It would have cost us around $6,000, but because of cash scholarships and contests he won along the way, the whole degree was practically free for us! (And we never had to fill out any of those nasty FAFSA forms!) So how did we do it?


That’s where my two favorite ways of earning money come in: cash scholarships and contests. Students (starting at ANY age!) can get money for a million different reasons and can probably qualify for dozens of random cash contests if they keep their eyes open. Did you know that there are scholarships for Prom’s Cutest couple, or for tall or short people, or for the best dress made from duct tape? What about the one for the best survival plan in case of a zombie apocalypse? Or by being a Pokemon World Champion? Or $1,000 for just filling out a form and getting your name randomly picked? These are just a few of the wild and crazy opportunities out there! All it takes is a little bit of time and research. Studies show that more than 2 BILLION dollars in free college money goes unclaimed every year!


The first thing we did was establish a goal: my son was to apply to 4 or 5 scholarships or contests a month while in high school and as he was earning his college credits. Some were more labor intensive while others were just writing a paragraph or filling out a form, so it was doable each month. The next thing we did was go to the library and check out scholarship books to see which ones he qualified for. Google became our next “go-to”. We researched every kind of scholarship and cash contest out there! (see below for a few to get you started) As we went about our normal routine we’d keep our eyes open for contests being held. Many times, the grocery store or a lunch out would reveal another opportunity. Once eating at Ci-Ci-s we heard about a $10,000 scholarship that a lucky student could earn just by taking a picture of himself by the Ci-Ci-s pizza bar and explaining why he deserved a scholarship. My son cranked that one out during lunch!


(Side Note: One tip that helped us tremendously was to keep a calendar with all the rules and deadlines clearly noted for each scholarship or contest. The calendar notes kept us on track and able to submit everything on time.)


Other places to find college cash are throughout your community and through company sponsored scholarships. Many places like the Boy Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, the Lion’s Club, etc… offer scholarships, as well as homeschool groups, volunteer organizations, and companies. Find out what community service organizations offer. Check out private companies, or the companies you work for to see if they offer any type of college funding. My son went to my husband’s boss to see if they offered any type of financial aid for college. He laid out his whole plan, and even though the company did not have any college scholarships, the boss offered to pay for all of his testing fees and any cost associated with getting his credits! So, any CLEP or DSST he took, any proctoring fees, any classes he took online- all paid for! Other things to look for are cash contests. My son must have entered over 100 of those- poetry and writing contests, video contests, ones online or on Instagram, grand openings, dog photo contests, caption contests, etc… As he started winning a few, the money started coming in. A few times we even spent days listening to radio stations when they had contests like “the 100th caller gets $500 or $1,000 in cash!”. (And we won- twice! $1,500 for about 15 minutes’ worth of work- not too bad!)


Though many of these will not be for THOUSANDS of dollars and may only be $25, $100 or $1,000 here or there, don’t discount them. A little bit of money adds up in a BIG way. Just ask Kristina Ellis. For four years, while in high school, she applied to as many scholarships as she could (no matter the amount) and at the end of that time had not only enough in scholarships for a free ride at Vanderbilt University, but enough to pay for her master’s degree! She earned over $500,000 in scholarship money! (For her full story check out Confessions of a Scholarship Winner on Amazon.) And, personally, I can say that this works. My son was able to pay for his bachelor’s degree all with cash money that he earned either through scholarships or contests.


So, it is possible to get your college degree FOR FREE- and not be one of those with a full ride scholarship. With a little bit of research, some time, and some patience, soon the award letters will start rolling in. And little by little the cash will start adding up- free cash that you don’t have to pay back (unlike student loans!) Not a bad deal if I say so myself!


Check out College Out of the Box, FaceBook page, You Tube videos, and EBook for more information on how you can get your college degree in less time, for less money, and with NO student debt- no matter your age!

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Did you know that in 2015 over $35 million in scholarship money was awarded to high school students by private organizations? That’s a lot of free money for college! We at Ohio Christian University have put together eight tips to help you get some of that money for your education.

  1. Start searching for scholarships ASAP. Don’t wait until spring of your senior year in high school to start searching, or you’ll miss half the deadlines.
  2. Take your ACT and/or SAT test. Since many scholarships are merit-based, that means your score will impact the amount of scholarships you are eligible to receive. So study hard and do well!
  3. Enter as much information as you can when filling out applications online! You will have more chances of getting matched for scholarships.
  4. Use a free scholarship engine. There are so many available.
  5. Look for local scholarships on bulletin boards in your hometown. These can be in local businesses, schools and libraries.
  6. Apply to any and every scholarship for which you are eligible. The more you apply for, the more chances you have of winning. Even though a scholarship may only be for a few hundred dollars, the amount will add up.
  7. Keep track of deadlines so you don’t miss them! Try using tools like calendars and scheduling apps.
  8. Be passionate in your essays and scholarship assignments. Showcase who you are as a student.

Fun Fact: If you choose to attend Ohio Christian University, we will match any money that an incoming student is bringing with them from outside scholarships up to $3,000 per year!

Want more information about how to pay for college, including our recommended scholarship websites? Read the rest of our FREE eBook.

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About David and Leslie Nunnery

Leslie Nunnery and her husband David founded Teach Them Diligently, the nation’s premier source for gospel-centered homeschool events. With seven years of homeschooling experience from preschool-high school and a passion to encourage and equip homeschool families, this mom of 4 shares her know-how and insights weekly through Teach Them Diligently media and on

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