Community-Based Options To Help Your Student Prepare And Pay For College

As your child comes closer and closer to the end of his or her high school experience, it will usually tend to become increasingly obvious that getting college-bound high school students into good colleges and universities is NOT a task for the faint of heart! There are so many elements that go into appropriate college preparation, and so many considerations (from academic to financial to extracurricular… and more). From our experience over the years, having watched countless students at varying stages of their own educational journey, we also can add that it is not a task for anyone to take on alone.

One mistake that we often see families making is simply trying to do everything themselves, and not taking advantage of the resources that are in place to help them along with what is already often a highly stressful experience. Some families are simply unaware of what is available. Other families may have no experience with higher education in their background, and simply do not know where to get started. Still others are determined to put on a brave face and “go it alone” no matter what happens, despite perhaps even knowing better! Finally, there are those people who are convinced that they already know all of the possible details about college admissions and funding, and they don’t need input from anyone else.

Frankly, whether intentional or not, all of these situations are unfortunate – because all of the families in these situations are setting themselves up for a worsened outcome when it comes time for the student to apply to colleges and universities. The simple fact is that there are a lot of resources available for anyone who is serious about applying for higher education, but you also need to be careful which voices are listened to!

Keeping that in mind, we have devoted this month’s newsletter to a basic overview of some of the community resources that are available to you as you prepare for the rapidly approaching years of college or university for your student. Some of them are public, some of them are private, and some of them are recommended with some types of information, and not with others, but all can be an important of the preparation, application, and funding for your child’s impending academic future.

As you know, we are here (and imminently well-prepared) to assist with this process, and as college funding professionals we have a very real interest in making sure that you and your family can take full advantage of the resources that will maximize your child’s performance and opportunities. We also want to prevent families from falling victim to poor advice, which often abounds in some areas. Here are some of the most important resources that may be available in your community that can help you and your child to be best prepared for everything that comes your way in the preparation for college application, funding, and beyond. Consider, for example, these options:


tutoringThere are unfortunately many parents who will refuse to consider tutoring as an option, even once they have realized that their child is struggling in one or more areas of school. This is unfortunate, because in many instances, getting a tutor right off the bat can actually help a student to get a head start on the competition. Students who respond well to tutoring can end up with even better grades than students who started of stronger, if the process is managed correctly.

Of course, many schools will offer tutoring based through peers, volunteers, or even faculty members, and this is often free of charge. Some community and professional groups can offer similar services for a nominal fee (or free, in some cases). Even a friend or family member with a knack for a subject can make a great tutor in the right circumstances! Regardless, the key is to find the right person with whom your child can work efficiently and well.

There are some signs that will help you to determine whether or not you should consider an investment of time and/or money in tutoring in order to help your child to prepare for college.

  • Does your child have a difficult time staying motivated to perform well in classes?
  • Is your child struggling in any area of his or her studies?
  • Is your child nervous about preparing to take the SAT or ACT?

Some parents may also choose to simply start with a tutor in order to give their child an edge right from the very beginning – it is often easier to cease tutoring if it is no longer necessary than it is to begin it in the first place, especially if the student sees it with some sort of negative stigma.

Remember also that many school systems are paring down throughout the United States and it is important to make sure that your child is fully prepared and has the necessary knowledge to not only get into the college of his or her choice but be able to thrive once s/he is in there. If tutoring is not readily available at the school due to budget constraints, consider other legitimate options, and make sure that they are successful! (The proof is in the performance, so it’s easily determined.)

Tutoring really provides results. If your child has difficulty structuring his or her study time, this is a perfect way for them to be able to focus and stay on task with the guidance of someone who is knowledgeable and ready to help. It is also a way for a student to build up his or her confidence. High school can be intimidating sometimes and not everyone can excel in each and every academic area. It is helpful to have someone to help to give your child a boost in the areas that s/he may need it.


churchThere are many churches and community organizations that provide scholarships to prospective college students. Yes, many of these are limited scholarships, financially speaking, and they may not make a huge difference in the bottom line. However, they make excellent entries on the resume, especially if your student is applying to a school that has a special affiliation with a church or other organization!


If your child happens to be interested in an area of study that is related to something that a congregation or community group has special interests in, then s/he is more likely to receive the scholarship, or even additional help, internships, and other assistance.

Take the time to see what organizations are in your area that may have an appeal for your child’s interests, and then see what is available through the internet, a few phone calls, or even a well-timed visit. Service and professional organizations can be a rich community resource as your child figures out what he or she would like to study at the next level.


As was briefly mentioned above, you can find a myriad of scholarship types that might be suitable for your child. Many of them are proverbial drops in the bucket, but some of them could be “full rides!” It is never prudent to bank on scholarships as “The Way” that your child will pay for college, for a variety of reasons (including the fact that they are notoriously difficult to predict), but applying for them can only help your cause over the long run if one or two of them happen to come through! Here are some that are out there for your consideration:

Need-Based Scholarships

This type of scholarship is based solely on the need of the individual. This scholarship is designed to provide opportunities for students who have limited resources but still want to pursue a college education. Committees will take into consideration a variety of factors; the income of the parents, other siblings who may be in school at the same time, overall expenses, etc.

Merit Scholarship

A merit scholarship is one that is granted to those students are excellent in their academic pursuits and are rewarded as such. They can be evaluated according to the GPA score, SAT score and other factors. They are often very competitive and the awards come in various types and amounts. Full rides (covering tuition and living expenses) are rare, but if your child has the academic chops, it is a good idea to apply for them.

Athletic/Talent Scholarship

This scholarship is granted to stellar athletes and performers in their respective activities. They are usually given to students who are being actively recruited to attend a particular school. The athletic types of scholarships are not usually ones for which a student can apply. They are usually pursued by coaches and scouts and then granted if the child agrees to attend that particular college.

Talent scholarships, however, may require an audition or special application portfolio. Many of these scholarships can make a significant dent (or sometimes eliminate!) the cost of college, which is a rare but wonderful opportunity. If your child has a rare talent, encourage it, but PLEASE do not ignore the other elements of college and university preparation! One injury, bad audition, or other unforeseen situation can ruin the best laid plans, and it is wise to be prepared for every eventuality, just in case.

Understanding Full and Partial Scholarships

Remember that there are some scholarships that cover everything (full ride) and there are the vast majority of others that will cover only a portion of college expenses. Of course, all scholarships are competitive so if your child is granted even a partial scholarship, count your blessings and take it… but be sure to discuss ALL of the options, because another school could be offering a better deal without a scholarship that works better for your family finances! Your college funding advisor can assist you in sorting all of those details out as they develop, but it is important to review all of the offers side-by-side to see the full picture!

With these resources and helpful individuals in mind, we urge you to make sure that you are able to find ways to share the burden of college preparation. It will lighten the load and also make things more manageable during a process that is otherwise extremely stressful. (We cannot guarantee a stress-free college preparation process, of course, but we certainly CAN help you to make things a load easier in the long run!)

As college funding professionals, we are interested especially in helping parents to gain an important understanding of the processes and pieces that are part and parcel of college funding. One of the best ways to get this overview is to order a no-obligation print of our free report, which is called “9 New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College.” This is a nuts-and-bolts report that introduces parents to the most important details surrounding all of the expenses affecting your student’s foray into college or university studies. If this report sounds like something that could help you in your preparations, please do not hesitate to call us at (818)839-6600 and we will ship a free copy to you immediately.


For families with a desire for more detailed and personal education about the process of college funding, we are also proud to offer our College Funding Workshops for an in-person experience in learning more. Our workshops are generally scheduled in the evening or on weekends to make them work with parents’ busy schedules, and while seating is limited to maintain the optimal learning environment, attendance is free of charge. Due to the limited seats available, however, we do require advance registration, so feel free to call us for the upcoming times, dates, and workshop sites. For more information, or to make a reservation now, please ring our workshop staff at (818)839-6600. We would be most pleased to meet with you at an upcoming college funding workshop!

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