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 The family of Jeff and Sharon Stone of Fenton Township have awarded a total of $132,300 in college scholarships to deserving seniors in the Lake Fenton school district since 2004 — in memory of their son, Brad, who passed away July 1, 2000, at age 12. They’ve awarded another $81,500 in college scholarships to Eastern Michigan Hockey Association members during that same time.

 The Brad Stone Memorial Scholarship is an example of one of many local scholarships available for students trying to finance their next educational step — college.

 On average, families report spending $26,226 on college expenses for last year’s academic year 2018-19. Forty-three percent of these costs were covered out-of-pocket through income and savings and 31 percent through scholarships and grants.

 When it comes to paying for college, scholarships are one of the best options that actually provide “free money.” When you receive a scholarship, the money is yours and you never have to worry about paying it back.

 While there’s a huge range of scholarships, they can generally be split into the categories of need and merit-based.

 Need-based depends on your family’s ability to pay for college and are only awarded to candidates who need a little extra help financially. Merit-based scholarships are awarded to applicants based on their achievements or abilities.

 Here are the steps you need to take to begin your search for scholarships: 

STEP 1 – Get out there and search

 Talk with your high school guidance counselor, who will have a list of community-based scholarships as well as state and national scholarships. Also check with the financial aid office at the university you plan to attend. If you’re looking for merit-based scholarships, ask your teachers or coaches as a resource.

 Visit the Michigan Student Scholarships and Grants website — www.michigan.gov/ssg for information and resources. Contact 1-888-4-GRANTS (888-447-2687) or ssg@michigan.gov for more details.

 Some employers, including McDonald’s restaurants, offer tuition assistance, which may be worth checking out.

STEP 2 – Create a calendar

 When it comes to applying for scholarships, timing is key. Start applying as soon as possible, from your junior year on. Make a list or spreadsheet with the scholarships you’d like to apply for, their due dates and required documents and essays.

STEP 3 — Figure out the requirements

 Not all scholarships are created equal. It’s important to research the specific requirements for the scholarship you’re applying to. They are generally straightforward and listed on the description. Most will require an application, an essay, letters of recommendation and copies of transcripts and diplomas. Need-based scholarships might also require your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form or your parents’ tax and income information. An up-to-date resume and portfolio, especially if you’re applying for an artistic scholarship, will complete your application package

STEP 4 — Make your essay stand out

 Your essay can make or break your application, so give it the time and effort it deserves. Follow directions carefully, give it time and make your essay stand out among the rest. Be sincere and truthful. Proofread, edit, repeat.

STEP 5 — Submit your materials

 Now it’s time to turn in your application. Check the requirements to find out if yours should be mailed via the U.S. Postal Service or submitted online. Make sure that anyone writing a letter of recommendation was given a deadline and proper submission instructions.

STEP 6 — Wait it out

 Now it’s time to take a deep breath and relax, and hope your hard work paid off.

Source: Goingmerry.com

FREE SCHOLARSHIP WEBSITES

• Scholarship & Grant

information —

Michigan Dept of Treasury

• FastWeb

• ScholarshipBuddy

• Student Scholarships

• Scholarship Resources

• Scholarship Guidance

• PFLAG National Scholarships

• Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Scholarships

• SCAD Challenge and

Scholarships

• National Co-op Scholarship

Program

• FIRST Scholarship

Opportunities

• University of Michigan/Blavin

Scholarship— students in foster

care

• Kettering Merit Scholarships

• Marist College Technology

Scholarship

• SVSU Scholarships

• Baker College Scholarships

• CMU Scholarships

• Navy NROTC

• Marine Corps Scholarships

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