The short answer to this question is, right now. That assumes, however, that you have children, and they are five to twenty-five years old. There might be college scholarships for children still in diapers, but I haven’t seen any so far. If you have, please let me know. Most people think they should wait until their kids are juniors in high school. Waiting increases anxiety and stress. Neither of these will lead to quality applications or interviews.
Beginning the college application process when children are in elementary school means there’s plenty of time to accumulate free money for college. Doing so has the added benefit of allowing parents to save for retirement. This is a win-win situation. If families put themselves on a schedule, there should be enough scholarship money collected to cover college without needing to take out student loans. Parents will need to find, and fill out the scholarship applications for their elementary school aged children, of course. Using the lined pages following each chapter in my book, Free College, to record data will make the process easier.
As children grow, and collect letters of recommendations from teachers, coaches, and others, be sure to file them away safely. You’ll need to reference them to fill out applications. Later you may need to send copies. When children are in middle school, have them sit with you when you search and apply for scholarships for them. They will benefit from the experience, and will understand school is important to the entire family. At this age, you will want to apply for more scholarships than before. Up your schedule to twice a month, and apply for two scholarships during each session.
When children enter high school, they should be ready to take on the task themselves. You might want to set up their system, and sit with them the first few times. High school students will have easy access to scholarship information. Their school counselor, college advisor or career advisor will be able to suggest scholarships. Freshmen and sophomores should apply for at least two scholarships each week. Juniors and seniors should apply for at least three scholarships each week. Don’t forget to look into grants. About $2.9 billion in federal grants for college went unclaimed in 2017. This is tragic. Most people don’t think they will qualify, so they don’t apply. This is a mistake.
Some high school seniors stop looking for financial aid once they've been accepted to college. This is another error in judgment. There’s still free money to be found. Look for it, and apply. The worst that could happen is you don’t get it. So what? You might win the scholarship. It would be a pity to pass up free money. Once in college, even if you have earned a full-ride, keep looking. There are fees, books, plus room and board to be paid. If you keep looking, you might not need a job or any loans at all. This is also true for grad school. If you’re interested in an advanced degree, find some of the billions of dollars of free money to help pay for your higher education. Don’t join the tens of thousands of Americans with crippling college loan debt. Be among the wise who graduate from college debt free.
If you have Pre-K through High School students in your family, you want my new book, Free College, on Amazon (Click Here to Buy). It can help them get accepted to college and win more scholarships, so they can avoid taking out dangerous college loans.
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