By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterFebruary 21, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 21, 2013) -- It is scholarship season, and the Fort Rucker Education Center has the information people need to stop procrastinating filling out the paperwork that has been collecting near the computer and begin the task of completing scholarship applications for the 2013 school year.
Scholarship applications are now being accepted at most schools, according to Renee Favors, Fort Rucker Education Center test examiner, and she encourages everyone who is planning to attend college in the next year to start applying for scholarships immediately.
"Don't wait. You have to allot for the time it takes for the applications to all be submitted, to be reviewed, then to be awarded for the fall. It takes time to divvy up that money, so get started now because this is the high time for scholarships as seniors in high school are planning ahead for their education," she said.
With the cost of education ever increasing, students and potential students should try to explore every avenue to receive scholarships and grants, according to Mike Burden, Army Community Service accredited financial counselor.
"Student loan debt is on average $28,000 per student. There are people who get Pell Grants, scholarships and the like, and still have to get loans. Any amount of money will help Families, but students need to start planning now," he said.
For many students and potential students, the task of filling out application after application can seem daunting and tiresome, but Favors said that more and more money from scholarships and grants goes unused every year, so students should buckle down and begin the search for the free money.
"Scholorships.com has all sorts of leads. They have it organized by age, by ethnicity, by talents and by all sorts of interests and majors. If I printed it out it would be over three inches thick. It is just a matter of writing an essay and filing out some paperwork," she said.
Essay writing, according to Favors, discourages many students because it seems too hard, but she said that students have to work at it because a scholarship is not something that is going to fall into the students' laps.
"The students have to do it themselves. Do one essay and if you get only $50 then that is $50 you didn't have before for school. The money is out there, but the student has to be the go-getter; no one is going to do it for them," she said.
Some scholarship applications are easier than others, only requiring background information, while others take a bit of time because they require extensive essays, but it all comes down to how much the student wants that education, according to the test examiner.
"How much difficulty are you willing to go through to get that scholarship? How dedicated are you to get that education? The degree of difficulty lies within each student. It will be worth it in the end to apply for scholarships because, hopefully, you will be debt free when it comes to student loans," she said.
Favors also said that Family members should take advantage of furthering their career and education.
"If you have children at home, yes it will be a juggle, but think of what you are teaching them. You set the example for them to go to college. And heaven forbid something happen to your military spouse, what would you do? Don't you want to have an education so you can have a good job so you can support your Family?" she said.
The Internet is a priceless avenue for scholarship seekers, but there are also many reference books at the education center and at local libraries that people can utilize.
"The National Military Family Association has information about finding scholarships, so does Military One Source. Army Community Service is massive and is a great, free path where Soldiers, spouses and Family members can get started," Favors said.
Students should also take advantage of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
"It is something that everyone should fill out because it gives you free money and many scholarships require information from the FASFA when applying," said the test examiner. "Don't ever turn down anything by saying, 'It is too difficult,' because once you do the one thing that is difficult, the rest is easy."
To complete a FAFSA, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov.
According to Favors, all of the local schools in the area have their own grants and scholarships.
"Just by going to their websites a student can find ones that they qualify for," she added. "It is way too easy."
Fort Rucker and local area schools have many opportunities for Families to receive scholarships, including the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program, Spouse Education Assistance Program and the Scholarships for Military Children Program from ACS. A few others are the thrift shop scholarship, the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program, the Workforce Investment Act, the Trade Adjustment Act, Prepaid Affordable College Tuition, and the multiple individual scholarships and grants from Wallace Community College, Enterprise State Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Troy University, Central Texas College and Baker College.
For more information on scholarships, visit the third floor of the education center in Bldg. 4502 to pick up a scholarship packet that contains more than 100 available scholarships.