With the rising cost of attending four-year universities, an increasing number of budget-conscious students are opting to complete their general education requirements at less expensive two-year colleges before transferring to complete a bachelor's degree elsewhere.
Following this less conventional path has its financial benefits. In addition to the money transfer students save by attending a community college and the leg up an associate degree can give students in the job market, there are substantial scholarships available exclusively to transfer students who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree. The following are a few scholarships and resources for students who are planning to transfer schools.
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The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which focuses on supporting students with financial need and academic promise, offers up to $30,000 a year to each of 60 students who are transferring from a community college to a top four-year university. Students must be nominated for this scholarship and cannot directly apply for it, so contact a representative and express your interest in being considered for nomination if you think you might qualify.
Transfer students who are planning to complete their bachelor's degree at a four-year college should also check scholarship search website Zinch.com, which offers a $2,000 scholarship for transfer students. The partnerships Zinch has with more than 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States gives students who create a profile the opportunity to be matched with other scholarships that fit their interests and plans.
Hispanic students transferring from a community college could benefit from scholarships offered by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the largest nonprofit organization supporting the education of Hispanic students in the United States. The goal of one of the fund's marquee programs, Generation First Degree, is for at least one member of every Hispanic household to have a college degree. Each of the numerous scholarships the organization offers has different requirements and deadline dates, so whatever your situation, it's likely you will find one that fits your specific financial and educational needs.
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Scholarships are also offered by Transfer Times, a biannual magazine focused on transfer student issues, to transfer students from Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois. Their scholarships are worth $1,000 each, are quick and easy to apply for, and are open to anyone with no consideration of academic performance or financial situation. These scholarships are granted in full if a recipient transfers to a university highlighted in Transfer Times; students who attend a school that is not affiliated with Transfer Times can still receive $500 to put toward college expenses.
Check also with the college or university to which you are transferring in order to search for scholarships offered specifically by that institution. Many schools offer their own transfer scholarship programs to encourage students to consider them when making plans to transfer.
In addition, many sororities, fraternities, and honor societies also offer scholarships for transfer students. Tau Sigma National Honor Society is an organization geared specifically toward transfer students. This year, they've awarded 34 scholarships worth a total of $36,500 through their 105 chapters nationwide. They are now accepting applicants for 2014 scholarship funds.
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society offers more than $37 million in scholarship funds for members who are finishing an associate degree and plan to enroll in a bachelor's degree program the following fall. These scholarship funds are available at more than 700 affiliated four-year colleges and universities nationwide.
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Once you have found a scholarship you want to apply for, give yourself plenty of time to gather the official transcripts and outline the essays you might have to write. Transferring to a new school can be messy and stressful, but the scholarships available can remove some of the financial burden so students can focus on the important things: studying for exams, building new friendships, and making memories to last a lifetime.
Angela Frisk holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and is a former scholarship recipient. She joined Scholarship America in 2012.