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When we think of paying for college, our thoughts often turn to scholarships. However, many students, and their families, will also utilize loans and/or credit cards to finance their college education, so it's important to study your options in these areas.
The National Merit Scholarship Program is a national academic competition for high school students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. It is administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Students qualify for the program by achieving a high score on the PSAT—more formally called the PSAT/NMSQT (“National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test”)—in their junior year, and then they may be designated as Commended Students, Semifinalists, or (after an additional application) Finalists for a $2,500 scholarship.
The first step for nearly all students applying for financial aid is completing the FAFSA. FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the federal government’s application for federal financial aid, and it is also used by state governments and many colleges and universities as they determine how much money to give you to help pay for college.
With college applications now complete (congratulations!), it’s time to apply for financial aid and scholarships.
Since many college scholarship deadlines are in early February, January is the month to apply for scholarships. Applying for scholarships is a great way to significantly decrease college costs, and the time it takes now can have a big payoff for the next four years. In addition, scholarships look great on your resume as they signal to colleges and employers that you are ambitious, prudent, and proactive.
Spark provides customized guidance to help you get into your top-choice schools.