Wednesday, November 30, 2005
7 News Features: College Without Cost
It's a source of anxiety and excitement. Many high school students dream of going to college, they just don't know how they're going to pay for it. But in tonight's special assignment report, we found there are hundreds of scholarships available even if your child doesn't have the grades. Here's the Nightteam's Tom Haynes with more - in college without cost.
WSVN--Forget being a straight a student or a star athlete. If you really want to go to college, money may not have to be an issue. In fact, you can even get a free ride just for being you.
If you want to go to college, Kalamazoo, Michigan is the place to be.
A few weeks ago, an anonymous donor promised free college tuition to every child attending public school there.
But for most students like Alvin Arline and Natasha Bevans, the only way they're going to be able to afford an expensive education is by earning a scholarship.
Alvin Arline: "I want to be able to further my education and be successful in anything I do instead of struggling in life."
Natasha Bevans:"I didn't want to limit myself to the schools I'd applied to because of finances."
Finding those scholarships isn't just a goal; it's a game.
Think of it like playing PAC-man.
Knowing what the judge's want is a maze.
You have to avoid costly mistakes
And you have to know how to get to the next level of the application process.
Ben Kaplan: "Alot of scholarships look for things other than grades such as extra-curricular activities, certain talents, overcoming obstacles, interests, and hobbies."
Ben Kaplan is the author of a book called "How to Go To College for Almost Free."
He believes anybody can win a scholarship regardless of their GPA.
Ben Kaplan: "A huge myth is that you just have to have amazing grades or test scores to win college scholarships and that's just not the case."
What you do need however is a strategy.
There's no point just going in circles.
If you want to know where to find the scholarships, try the websites Fastweb.com and Wired-scholar.com.
Ben Kaplan: "There are tens of thousands of scholarship providers. They all want to reward different things. That's why there really is a scholarship out there for everyone."
And if you do get turned down, don't give up. You should plan on applying to at least 12 different scholarships.
When Ben said there's something out there for everyone, he wasn't kidding.
We found a scholarship out there for Trekkies who have mastered the cling-on language.
And a scholarship for nudists asking "Why is nudism important to you?"
But the secret is actually not to make too much work for yourself.
Ben Kaplan: "You can recycle, re-use and re-think old material and re-deploy it for new applications. So once you've applied for one or two you have already done 60 percent of the work to apply for ten if your smart about how you approach the process."
The real way to score bonus points - community service and a strong essay.
Ralph Leon: "We are really looking for an honest answer. We don't want something that's been crafted or made up too much. That also shows through."
Ralph Leon is the community affairs manager for the Miami Heat.
Each year, he helps award the heat's four scholarships.
For Ralph, the big prize is when a candidate writes something personal.
Ralph Leon: "What we are really looking for is the essence of the candidate to come through."
Jessica Gurllon came through.
She's going to Barry University on a free ride because she learned how to be aggressive and eat up the competition.
JessicaGurllon: "You basically have to sell yourself. You have to convince them why they should give you the money."
Nataja and Alvin are ready to sell themselves.
They're already working to get a high score with the judges so they can go to college without cost.
Alvin Arline: "A amount that would pay my college tuition in full - that would be great. Then I wouldnt have to pay any student loans."
Natasja Bevans: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. I'm just looking at it as a long term investment in my future."
Also keep in mind if you're applying for financial aid, you should start working on it ASAP. The forms are due January first and most colleges offer aid on a first come, first serve basis.
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