by Derrick McCain
Former Courier Intern

With graduation quickly approaching the seniors this year, many are moving on to college or other forms of post-secondary education. With this in mind, along with the FAFSA, the first thing soon-to-be college students have on their mind in terms of paying for college is the Pittsburgh Promise.

The Promise scholarship ensures Pittsburgh Public Schools students with money to pay for college. However, the full $20,000 (it will be $40,000 as of next year) is only given if you’ve gone to Pittsburgh public schools since kindergarten, and even with the full award given, it won’t fully cover the cost of tuition. While the Promise is an important scholarship, one must remember it is not the only scholarship available.

There are many ways to go about finding scholarships. You can look them up online. Narrowing the search by race or state could be helpful. There are many scholarships for different types of people and interests, so don’t be hesitant to look up a scholarship for your intended field of study or extracurricular activities such as sports or volunteering. Also, you could try visiting your school counselor if none have been suggested to you. Furthermore, don’t forget to ask around; your peers may be your best sources for finding these scholarships.

Other alternative means of payment include grants you can apply for, which is also free money for college. There are several loans that you don’t have to pay for until after college. Finally, there’s the NEED grant to use as the last resort for students who need last minute money to cover their tuition. All the same, scholarships are still a very effective way to start chipping away at the debt.

I personally have a few friends who were offered scholarships but they never seemed to get around to applying for them. The rewards of a higher education are endless, but the debt that follows can be staggering. It’s important to acknowledge and rank this highly on your list of priorities because many students don’t have the available means to pay and end up either dropping out or getting kicked out for not paying tuition. With the average debt in the $10,000s, every penny counts. It’s better to start now than to hold off and find yourself buried in debt.

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