College is one of the most expensive endeavors you'll ever undertake. The situation gets even more challenging if you fall within that group of Americans whose family is - as Forbes puts it - "too poor for college, too rich for financial aid".
If that's the case for you, rather than end up with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, the better option is to accumulate as much scholarship money as possible.
In today's world where technology is ubiquitous, you can even earn college scholarship money and find the best scholarships for your needs using your smartphone.
In this guide, I'll tell you about the most effective and unique ways to fund your education using the same technology you already use every day of your life.
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Mobile Apps for College Scholarships
Algorithms that can connect people to the things they need and want by analyzing the information they input are already a part of our daily life. It only makes sense that there are apps designed to use this technology to match students with college money.
RaiseMe is an electronic platform that matches students as young as ninth grade with micro scholarships offered by over 250 colleges and universities. Students are rewarded for things like good grades and community service.
Launched nationwide in 2014 by CEO Preston Silverman, the app is backed by venture capitalists the likes of Facebook and the Gates Foundation.
How It Works:
- Download the app and create your profile (you can also do this on the website).
- Search for colleges.
- Input your grades, achievements, and community activities as you progress through high school.
- Watch your microgrants accumulate!
The genius behind RaiseMe is the way it automatically matches you with specific scholarships that fit your interests and strengths. Because you can begin using it as early as ninth grade, you can accumulate quite a large nest egg of college money before you even start applying.
In fact, even though RaiseMe scholarships may be as small as a couple hundred dollars (for example, the $200 you get for filling out the FAFSA application), the average student amasses more than $22,000 in scholarships by the time they enter college (VICE Impact).
RaiseMe is free and simple to use, making it a very easy way to get money for your college tuition.
Scholly is an app and online platform like RaiseMe, however, Scholly differs a bit in that it helps match students with targeted traditional scholarship opportunities based on their profile, rather than earning smaller amounts through each little achievement.
Scholly was started by Shark Tank winner Christopher Gray, who was bothered by the fact that over $100 million in scholarship money goes unclaimed each year in the US (Smithsonian Magazine).
Using Scholly will cost you a one-time $2.99 fee, which seems a tiny price to pay when you consider the platform has helped users find over $50 million in college money so far.
More Ways to Earn College Scholarships Using Technology
Finding money for college tuition using your smartphone or computer isn't just restricted to apps that directly connect you with resources. You can also take advantage of the following tools.
Teach Seniors Technology Scholarship
DoSomething.org sponsors a community service opportunity called Grandparents Gone Wired. When you participate in this program you are entered for a chance to win a $10,000 college scholarship.
Becoming eligible is simple:
- Teach an older adult how to use technology such as a smartphone.
- Take a picture of the two of you while you're teaching them.
- Send in your photo and you're entered to win!
This scholarship opportunity is especially meaningful because it helps senior citizens stay connected, which can prevent loneliness and depression. Plus it gives you a great community service item to put on your college applications - and the chance to win tuition money.
The campaign is only active at certain times, but you can sign up on the website to be notified when it opens.
According to VICE Impact over 45 million Americans are eligible for financial aid each year, yet only 30 million people actually go through the process of completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
So, what is Frank, and what does it have to do with college money? Frank is an online platform, founded by CEO Charlie Javice, which helps families more easily navigate the complex FAFSA process. To date, users have been awarded over $4.5 billion - yes, with a "b" - in financial aid money for school.
Frank cuts out the complicated jargon and interprets exactly what documentation and data you will actually need when you submit your FAFSA. For example, it eliminates questions that don't apply to your student and draws from available databases to gather documentation that you might otherwise spend weeks getting together.
Frank is free for basic use due to its venture capitalist funding. You can, however, pay $500 to have a Frank representative negotiate your financial aid package with the school. You'll only pay this fee if they can get you $5000 or more in grant money.
Frank is definitely worth looking into, if for no other reason than it cuts the FAFSA questions down to just 30% of what you'd have to enter manually on the form itself.
Applying for college can be an intimidating task - and paying for it even more so. Thanks to modern technology there are more ways than ever to earn college scholarship money.
While you're using your smartphone to rack up all those tuition dollars, make sure you're getting the best deal on your wireless service by comparing cheap cell phone plans and the best prices on smartphones!