Scholarships are available through many programs, starting with your high school. While you should be depending on your high school adviser, parents or family friends to alert you to these opportunities, it’s also up to you to seek them out and take responsibility for applying for them.

High school

Students are wise to think about scholarships early in their high school years, because a lot of scholarships are given at the end of high school to academically talented students.

The earlier a student pursues excellence in his or her high school work, the better, because competition is intense.

Many scholarships provided by the college or outside sources will consider a student’s grade point average. Slacking at the high school level is not a good idea if you’re hoping to be competitive for these opportunities.

Some of the high school scholarships are subject ­specific, such as art or agriculture. Students who don’t have an overall high GPA but excel in these subjects will have a chance to receive a scholarship, too.

Foundation

Colleges have foundations that administer internal scholarships, many of which have requirements that vary, such as graduating from a certain high school, pursuing a certain major as well as a GPA standard.

Contact the foundation office at your college and fill out the general application. At the same time, grab the list of external scholarships that the foundation keeps. These can include local givers, banks and companies that want to invest in the next generation.

Online sources

Some college scholarships require that a student write an essay about a certain topic or something pertaining to his or her life. That is when those writing skills come in handy.

There are also online sources for scholarships. Some of them are free, but many are not.

They contain a complete list of all kinds of scholarships nationwide. Applying for scholarships takes time, but the possible pay­off is substantial.

It is worth your effort to position yourself for a debt­-free exit from the college experience.

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