Do you have homeschooled students that are looking for scholarships for higher education? Whether they have high academic achievement, unique volunteer backgrounds, or are pursuing a highly sought-after field, you can learn more about the process below and how to find scholarships for homeschoolers.
Scholarships for Homeschoolers
There are many scholarships for homeschoolers. You just have to know where to look and what the process involves. Plus, you will need to plan ahead so you don’t miss any important deadlines, even during the last few years of high school. Here’s what you need to know.
Are homeschoolers eligible for college scholarships?
Yes, even homeschool students are eligible for college scholarships in the United States. Some scholarship applications will encourage homeschoolers to apply. And it’s not all based on entirely on academic excellence, so don’t despair if your teen isn’t nailing a 4.0
And you may be surprised to learn that some scholarships include financial aid throughout the entire university career, while another scholarship might only involve a one-time award.
Types of College Scholarships for Homeschoolers
Here are the various types of college scholarships for homeschoolers. These financial aid opportunities might be the only thing that makes a higher education possible for some students. Which ones will be the best fit for your future college students?
Athletic scholarships are a great way for talented athletes to pay for college. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) now includes homeschool graduates in their scholarship opportunities. You can learn more on the NCAA Homeschool Students page.
Your extracurricular activities or hobbies can be the source of activity-based scholarships. Home-educated students have a great opportunity here to highlight their extracurricular accomplishments. You can even craft the high school years to be able to hone in on your student’s passions and interests.
Merit Based Scholarships
Merit scholarships are open to homeschool graduates because it doesn’t matter where you attend school, but rather these scholarships look at what you’ve accomplished during your high school years.
State Scholarships for Homeschoolers
Did you know that states offer scholarships for specific student populations? Start with filling out the FAFSA. Colleges use the information on that form to determine which form of financial help is available to you. Each individual state will use the FAFSA information to match you up with scholarships as well. States give scholarships based on academic achievement, specific majors and future career options, and ethnic or community-based characteristics. You can browse the specific scholarship page for your state to find the best state scholarships for your kids.
Some scholarships are available for people with specific backgrounds, minorities, women, or those of a certain ethnicity or religion. These demographic scholarships can be merit-based or need-based. So if your student meets the criteria, you will want to look into this type of scholarship.
Homeschool parents may already know about government scholarships, mostly notably the Pell Grant. This annual scholarship is based on financial need and does not need to be paid back. Government agencies offer scholarships to students who are doing coursework specific to that agency’s goals and purpose. For example, students pursuing degrees that would further the mission of the Department of Transportation or the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration might be offered government scholarships from that agency.
Financial Need Scholarships
Financial need scholarships begin with filling out the FAFSA on October 1st of your senior year in high school. Based on this snapshot of your family finances, your student will receive options for financial need scholarships. Colleges and universities use the information on the FAFSA to offer scholarships to needy students who might otherwise not be able to afford a post-secondary education.
There are multiple military scholarships available to homeschoolers. For example, military veterans, current service members or their immediate family can receive scholarships for college. The Army ROTC awards scholarship to over 13,000 students annually to the tune of over $274 million.
Employer-sponsored Tuition Assistance
Many employers will offer tuition assistance. Yes, this is possible even for homeschool graduates who are pursuing higher education. Up to $5250 in annual tuition assistance can be enjoyed tax-free by students. Anything over that amount will be taxable.
If your student is a good writer they can apply for an essay-based scholarships. These scholarships give financial assistance to students who write the winning essay on the assigned topic. Essays might range in length from only 250 words to over 2,000 words.
State Lottery Scholarships
Eight states have lottery-funded scholarships opportunities. These are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
Before Applying for a Scholarship
The work to get scholarships begins even before your student applies.
Get Transcripts in Order
First, make sure you have a complete homeschool high school transcript. Be sure that course descriptions are complete and that your student has taken the required college prep courses in high school. Your homeschool program can shine on a transcript as you highlight the electives, dual enrollment courses, or other achievements of your graduate. Be sure to include final grades and a cumulative GPA.
Since each homeschool educational program is different, just as each public school’s offerings are different, colleges and universities relies on standardized testing to put graduates on an even playing field. So your student will want to complete the SAT or ACT or other college entrance exams. Based on their scores, they may be eligible for additional scholarships or funding.
Community Service & Volunteer Hours
Service-minded students can receive scholarships based on volunteer hours and community involvement. Obviously, this is an area that you will need to focus on well before graduation. But if you plan ahead, you can highlight these achievements in your scholarship applications.
Many students win local scholarships by participating in educational contests. These could include spelling bees, math clubs, the chess club, or speech and debate club.
Meet with a College Advisor
It’s a great idea to meet with a college advisor ahead of time to get suggestions for homeschool scholarships. They will also be able to help you through the college application process and help you avoid any pitfalls in applications or hitting all the scholarship deadlines.
Scholarship Tips for Homeschoolers
Homeschoolers are beginning to be sought after even by prestigious higher education institutions. If your teen can gather impressive letters of recommendation from people like employers, their chances of getting scholarships are even higher. The good news that came out of the COVID pandemic and changes in schooling for many students is that colleges and universities are open like never before to welcoming homeschool graduates. And that means that there are more chances than ever for homeschoolers to win scholarships too.
Research Scholarship Options
High school students can begin to research scholarship options well before graduation. In fact, starting during your freshman year of high school isn’t too early! Of course, SAT or ACT scores will also play a big role in determining the types of scholarships your student will receive.
Complete a FAFSA Application
All college-bound students and their parents should complete the FAFSA application beginning on October 1st of their senior year. This application form gives the government and colleges the necessary information they need to see which scholarships your student can receive. It provides a financial snapshot of your family finances so that specific income eligibility guidelines can be met for scholarships such as Pell Grants and other needs-based scholarships.
Apply to All Eligible Scholarships
Finally, encourage your college-bound student to apply to all eligible scholarships. The more they can apply for, the more they could potentially receive. And wise advice says that you shouldn’t neglect applying even for small scholarships. Sometimes students neglect those small ones, so there is a higher chance that many applicants for those tiny amounts will receive it! And we know that even small scholarships add up if you can win lots of them.
Final Thoughts on Scholarships for Homeschoolers
As you can see, there are dozens of scholarship opportunities available after homeschool graduation. You just have to know where to look and keep on top of the deadlines, especially the FAFSA. So make a plan during the high school years with your student and work that plan each year until you reap the benefits of scholarships to help your student attend college after homeschool. You can do it!
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Founded in 1977, Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, support services, and an accredited online academy. Visit Alpha Omega Publications online or call 800-622-3070 to learn more.