Getting ready to go to college? Odds are that you will have to take out a federal student loan, a private student loan, or both – but don’t overlook student grants and scholarships as a way to get some extra money and pay some or all of your tuition and college related expenses. Even $500 or $1000 can make a big difference when you are living on a student budget. That could cover the cost of textbooks or athletic fees for the year. And it’s money you don’t have to pay back.

Here are five places to look for college scholarship or grant money that probably hadn’t occurred to you: Your local chamber of commerce. Many local chambers of commerce offer scholarships. Also, there are chambers of commerce that offer minority scholarships, such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Asian American Chamber of Scholarship, Native American Chamber of Commerce, and many more. You can find them by asking at your local library or searching on the internet.

Civic organizations like Rotary International or Lions Clubs frequently offer scholarships to people from their local community.

Employer Scholarships – Both for the student and their parents. McDonald’s offers a scholarship for an employee for each state every year. Verizon offers scholarships for children of employees. Larger corporations are more likely than smaller mom and pop operations to offer these types of scholarships, but it’s always worth checking.

Scholarship contests. Can you design a greeting card? Are you willing to wear a Duck Brand Duck Tape outfit to your high school prom? Can you paint? Do you write beautiful poetry? Are you a skilled essay writer? Yes, there are scholarship contests for each of those categories. Search for scholarship contests and enter the ones which suit you. The more contests you enter, the more chances you have of winning thousands of dollars worth of scholarships.<

Religious Scholarships. If you or your parents belong to a church, consider that as a potential source of scholarship money. Many churches, large and small, assist their parishioners with college funds or have specific scholarships for students who qualify.

Remember, the more scholarships that you apply for, the more chance there is that you will be approved for at least one. It’s best to start researching and applying for scholarships at least a year before college starts, to ensure that you don’t miss any scholarship deadlines. So get out there and start filling out those scholarship applications, and good luck!

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