Small sums add up to big money: some hidden scholarships to look for

National Scholarship Providers Association: the number of scholarships awarded has increased by 45%

ORLANDO, Fla. – Many high school students planning to attend college are worried about how they are going to pay for it.

The Student Loan Forgiveness Act is on and off again. No one knows for sure when or if it will ever happen. Getting all the scholarships you can now is important.

In fact, educational debt is the fastest growing debt category in America today. The average borrower owes almost $38,000 in student loans. Scholarships are one way to get a degree without bankrupting your future.

“Apply for the big money, that’s great, but you also need to look at smaller scholarships. If you receive many small scholarships, they add up to big money,” Alicia Keaton, financial aid director at the University of Central Florida said.

Recent surveys show $49 billion is awarded in scholarships annually. But an estimated $100 million in scholarship money still goes unawarded each year. This is mostly due to a lack of applicants.

“There are tons of scholarships throughout your local community. If you are involved in a church, a mosque, a synagogue, your local fire department. Even the post office offers scholarship opportunities for students,” Keaton said.

Most cities have a local Rotary that awards $7.5 million in scholarships each year. You can find information by contacting your college’s financial aid website.

“The website has tons of information; some even have scholarship platforms,” Keaton said.

Also, begin researching online. One website that lists more obscure scholarships and the dates the applications are due, is College Life Made Easy. You can find one for almost everyone.

Some often unknown scholarships are a pet lovers’ scholarship worth $1,000. All you need to do is send in a photo and caption of your pet.

The Pelipost Overcoming Adversity scholarship is worth $2,000 and is open to children who have incarcerated parents. There are up to $25,000 up for grabs in the Live Mas scholarship. All you must do is submit a two-minute video on what you are passionate about and how you plan to change the world.

It is most important to get into a routine of hunting for scholarships.

“You need to incorporate searching and applying for scholarships and make it a routine habit, and the reason being, it is competitive,” Keaton said.

The National Scholarship Providers Association reports that over the last ten years, the number of scholarships awarded has increased by over 45 percent.

January is the month most organizations start choosing their recipients, so make sure to get those applications in now.