Over the last few weeks, there have been stories in the media about colleges that have changed their admissions policies to favor students with no financial need. The Wall Street Journal's Feb. 19 article, "Buying Your Way Into College," led with this: "Forget the standard advice that everyone should apply for financial aid. This year, forgoing aid applications may actually boost the chances of getting accepted."
The article states that many colleges start with a "need-blind" policy (meaning they admit students on their academic merit, regardless of their ability to pay), but end up "need aware" as their financial aid budgets become thinner. Bottom line: some academically superior students with financial need may be bumped from the rolls for less-able students from wealthier backgrounds.
[Read more about colleges where need for aid can hurt admissions odds.]
We would never recommend that you forego applying for financial aid. While doing so may boost your chances of getting accepted by the school of your choice, it certainly will not boost your chances of being able to pay for college. But this new reality does mean that applying for and earning scholarships is more important than ever—and applying for scholarships that are awarded early enough to be listed on your college application could be very helpful.
There are plenty of scholarships available to high school juniors, and even younger students, that can be deferred until your freshman year of college. A few of the major ones are listed below; search for "scholarships for high school juniors" on your favorite online search engine to find a number of lists compiled by others.
[Learn why more high school students are planning on attending college.]
1. Best Buy @15: Best Buy Children's Foundation will award up to 1,200 scholarships of $1,000 each to students in grades 9-12 who are planning to attend college after high school. Scholarship recipients are selected based on academic achievement, volunteering efforts, and work experience.
2. Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program: Kids ages 6 to 18 are eligible for the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program—provided they have contributed to their community in a meaningful way in the past 12 months by performing volunteer service that helped a non-family member. Students must be nominated for this award, and nominators must be age 21 or older. Parents: Yes, you can nominate your own children for this award.
[Find out more about turning your community service into college cash.]
3. Raytheon Math Moves U: Raytheon has a middle school scholarship focused on students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades only, who submit an answer to the question, "How does math put the action in your passion?" Submissions may be multimedia or paper, and awards of $1,000 can be used for "camperships" at a science, technology, engineering, or math-related summer camp—or set aside for the students' freshman year of college.
4. Discover Scholarship Program: The Discover Scholarship Program is aimed specifically at high school juniors who have at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale for their 9th and 10th grades. Up to 10 scholarships of $25,000 are awarded each year and may be used for any type of post-high school education or training, certification, etc. at a two- or four-year school. The 2012 program year will open for applications in late 2011.
Janine Fugate joined Scholarship America in 2002. She is an alumna of the College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn., and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Fugate is the recipient of numerous scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate level.