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Scholarships ‘alleviate the burden’

Photo Illustration by Andy S. Avitt: Using scholarship money to pay down student loans helps to save more money in the long-term. Another key strategy in applying for scholarships is to apply for as many as possible.

Photo Illustration by Andy S. Avitt:
Using scholarship money to pay down student loans helps to save more money in the long-term. Another key strategy in applying for scholarships is to apply for as many as possible.

It is not a secret that college students are busy. Between homework, working and those Netflix marathons, few students find time to apply for scholarships regularly, which can leave you missing out.

“Last year over 7,000 students received $34 million in institutional scholarships and grants,” financial aid director Jana Albrecht, said.

Albrecht explained most students rely on parents and grandparents to help pay for college, however, many students take out loans.

“When students find scholarships, they help alleviate the burden for parents and help reduce their own loan debt. Everything you receive makes college more affordable,” Albrecht said.

The 2013 graduating seniors on average borrowed $17,652. About 68 percent of that graduating class borrowed during undergraduate years, she explained.

“If you take the average for just that group of seniors that borrowed money, the average is more like $26,061,” she said.

Albrecht said scholarships can make an impact on these student loan numbers.

She explained the exact number that an individual can save is difficult to predict; however, the average award for institutional aid is around $4,500 per year.

“If you assume a student will get these awards for all four years, this is a total savings of $18,000,” she said. “Obviously scholarships and grants can change from year-to-year [however].”

Albrecht explained the impact scholarships can make for students who borrow.

“A $1,000 scholarship can end up saving you hundreds of extra dollars in interest when you enter repayment,” she said.

Students who are searching for scholarships should look once a month because deadline dates vary, but many applications are due in the first four months of the year, she said.

“[Applications vary]. Some are scholarships totally online; others are still submitted by paper and mail. Some are one page, and some are longer; there really is no standard,” she explained.

It is clear even students with little free time can find scholarships with shorter application processes and still be in the running to be granted awards.

To begin searching for scholarships students can visit the financial aid website at financialaid.ilstu.edu/scholarships.

“Departmental websites are also a good source [to find scholarship applications]. Don’t forget about scholarships from your hometown, your church, your employer and also your parent’s employers,” Albrecht said.

There is no limit to the number of scholarships a student can apply for or be granted. Financial Aid encourages students to complete as many scholarship applications as possible, she said.

“Finding the right scholarships, applying for them and receiving them is time consuming work but very much worth the effort in the end,” she said.

For more information about applying for scholarships, call the financial aid office at 309-438-2231 or visit their website at FinancialAid.IllinoisState.edu.

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