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Today, one woman shares how she amassed enough scholarships to graduate from college debt-free. The first time I ever heard about student loan debt was in I was a high school senior in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and in the midst of applying for colleges.
My cousin, who had graduated with a business degree six months earlier, had come over to visit and was complaining about someone named Sallie Mae. Who in the world is Sallie Mae? After hearing my cousin's explanation -- that Sallie Mae was a company that gives students money to attend college -- I was shocked, worried and confused.
I'd never thought critically about the costs associated with going to college. Everyone -- family, teachers, friends and even my guidance counselors -- just told me I needed to attend in order to secure a better future, which I could do by choosing the school that offered the best education.
But it hadn't occurred to me that I'd have to pay for that privilege. My mind started racing: How would I ever be able to afford college? The housing bubble had just burst, and I knew my mom, a real estate agent, wouldn't be able to contribute.
What would happen if I couldn't come up with the money? Would I still be able to get a good job?
I knew I had to come up with a plan -- quick. My Panicked Search for Scholarships The idea of scholarships had crossed my mind before, but I hadn't applied to a single one.
I'd heard good students were automatically awarded scholarships from the colleges they applied to -- and although I was nowhere near being the valedictorian of my class, I planned to wait and see what I got.
But now that I'd realized how important it was to cover some of my college costs, I was worried I'd made a mistake. It was already March. Did I wait too long to apply and miss the scholarship boat? In a panic, I went on FastWeb. Financial Aid for College Eventually, I found a few to apply for -- the Coca-Cola and Gates Millennium scholarships I'd heard advertised on the radio, as well as the Ron Brown and Essence scholarships from my school -- but I never got a response.
I started to feel like I wasn't good enough to win scholarships. All I could do now was hope the colleges I was accepted to would give me some money. Fortunately, a few weeks later, the financial aid awards started trickling in. I felt like I'd hit the lottery. Was Towson my first choice?
But I knew the only way to finish college was to pay for it myself -- and I had a full ride. Secrets of a C. Or so I thought. Puzzled as to why, I thought back to when I accepted all of my awards online -- and realized one of the boxes had been grayed out. At the time, I didn't think much of it and just assumed it was an automatic scholarship.
Well, I was wrong. I should have called the financial aid office to tell them I couldn't check the box and ask what I should do to make sure it went through.
So I called Towson's financial aid department to see if I could recover the award v-- but the money was already gone. It wasn't enough just to barely cover my costs -- I needed more in case any other scholarships fell through. So I started researching private scholarships, knowing that if I won enough money to cover tuition and fees, I wouldn't be in the same predicament again.
I started by asking friends what scholarships they received and found out about the Delegate and Senatorial scholarships offered by the state of Maryland for residents who chose in-state colleges.
I requested an application, filled it out, wrote an essay and mailed it back before the deadline. Feeling like I could conquer others, I invested even more time researching scholarships, garnering a few, little-known secrets in the process, like how your chances of winning a local scholarship are greater because they're less publicized and fewer people apply.
I was back on the path to graduating with no debt. Switching Schools -- and Saving Money Unfortunately, after just one semester, my time at Towson was coming to a close.We will write a custom essay sample on When Choosing a Career Path specifically for you for only $ $/page.
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