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Small Awards Pay Big Dividends

Small Awards Pay Big Dividends

Small scholarships can make a big difference.

By Stephen Borkowski

February 05, 2013

There’s an award listed on your scholarship opportunities page that’s a perfect match for you. But applying for it keeps slipping to the bottom of your to-do list. Why the procrastination? It’s worth a measly $500. Tuition at an average, public, four-year college costs more than $12,000 per year, so you’re not going to bother going after a few hundred dollars.

That’s a costly mindset.

Remember, scholarships are free money that you won’t have to pay back.

Let’s say you don’t bother with that $500 scholarship today. Tomorrow you’ll find yourself on campus in need of $500 for books, or computer software, or lab fees.

What are your options?

Borrow $500: Whether you borrow the money you need now through a student loan or use a credit card, you’ll have to pay that money back, with interest tacked on. If you swipe your plastic and then take one year to pay off $500 at an interest rate of 17 percent, you’ll pay $47.23 in interest. Or if you add it to your student loan balance, by the time you’ve paid it off that $500 may have cost you $1,000.

Earn $500: You could find yourself a part-time job. It’ll take you 62 1/2 hours at $8 per hour to make $500, and that’s before taxes. Compare that to a couple hours spent filling out a scholarship application.

So, what might seem like a lot of work for $500 now can actually save you from having to do a lot more work for that money in the future.

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