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You Don’t Have to Pay Alone: These Programs Help Cover the Price of Education

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Education is priceless — yet when it comes to paying for college or other training after high school, the cost can feel daunting.

“When you see the sticker price of schools today, it may seem unaffordable,” says Juliet Murawski, director of the Delaware Higher Education Office. “But scholarships and other kinds of financial aid available from the state of Delaware, the federal government, schools themselves and other sources help make it possible for most students to afford to attend college.”

And for those who don’t want to go the traditional four-year degree path, support is available as well.

Don’t Procrastinate

It’s important for families to launch the scholarship search early — ideally, by the time a high school student reaches junior year, says Murawski. The first key decision: Do they want to study at a two-year or a four-year college? Or does training for a trade appeal more to their skills and interests?

Delaware Higher Education Office Director Juliet Murawski

Then begin the process of online research on schools, meeting with high school guidance counselors, taking college tours, and attending college and career nights.

For example, the Delaware Higher Education Office partners with the organization Stand By Me (StandByMeDE.org) to offer free programs at Delaware high schools, plus family workshops and one-on-one assistance in applying for scholarships and other financial aid.

Push your scholarship quest into high gear the summer before senior year, advises Murawski. “Continue to research what’s available, note opening and closing dates for applications — and start sending them out. By fall and winter, students should definitely be applying; a lot of colleges close applications in March or April of senior year.”

Don’t Overlook Training Programs

There’s a treasure trove, too, of opportunities for high school students who might not want to pursue the traditional college path. For them, grants are available for a multitude of training programs.

“They can register on the Delaware Job Link website (JobLink.Delaware.gov) then meet with us to discuss career goals,” says Gina Aurora, deputy director at the Division of Employment and Training of the Delaware Department of Labor. “We currently have a list of nearly 300 programs offered by 35 approved job-training providers.

National Search Options

Dozens of online scholarship databases offer searches by keyword, type of scholarship or school location. Some well-known sites include:

  • CollegeBoard.org
  • FastWeb.com
  • GoingMerry.com
  • ScholarshipOwl.com
  • Scholarships.com

Or try the U.S. Department of Labor — it provides scholarship information through its CareerOneStop.org portal, with more than 8,000 listings.

“We also encourage families to apply for federal student aid with a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form,” says Murawski. You can find that form at StudentAid.gov. “It can help students qualify for federal and state aid based on financial need.” Some schools may require a FAFSA application even if a student is seeking a merit-based scholarship.

Financial Support for Delaware Residents

Lisa Condon, who serves as education associate, scholarship and financial aid administrator at the Delaware Higher Education Office, points out an online resource specially designed for Delaware residents: “The Delaware Scholarship Compendium (Scholarships.DelawareStudentSuccess.org) now has about 300 scholarships listed, and it grows every year,” Condon says.

She also highlights some other popular Delaware-centric scholarships, including:

  • The state-funded SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) scholarship is available for Delaware Technical Community College and for the University of Delaware’s Associate in Arts program (DelawareStudentSuccess.org/seed-and-inspire). At DTCC, SEED is available to students of all ages and can be applied to non-credit programs, including short-term certificates such as diesel technology, allied health or information technology.
  • Another state-funded program, F.A.S.T. (Focus on Alternative Skills Training)provides up to $10,000 in free tuition assistance to Delawareans who are enrolled in certain certificate programs. Areas of training include healthcare, hospitality/food service/tourism, and transportation/logistics/warehousing. Learn more at laborfiles.delaware.gov/main/wdb/jobseekers/FAST_Program_Flyer.pdf
  • Inspire, a scholarship that covers full tuition at Delaware State University (DelawareStudentSuccess.org/seed-and-inspire)
  • The Educator Support Scholarship for Delaware residents interested in high-needs teaching and support fields (Education.Delaware.gov/families/college-career-life/college-scholarship-financial-aid)

“Students and parents sometimes think scholarships are hard to get,” Condon adds. “But it mostly requires first, doing the research; and second, putting in the time and work of applying. And it can really be worth it in the end!”

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