Shay Spivey’s story is one which many students looking to pay for school can relate to and gain inspiration from. Like students of all ages, she found herself in the all-too-common conundrum of having college aspirations without the finances to make her dreams a reality. Most students aren’t independently wealthy, after all. However, Spivey’s scholarship story is unique due to the fact that her search began later than that of a typical college student. As a young single mother, Spivey began to reevaluate her life when she turned 30. One of her goals in life had always been to get a college degree. But, with limited means and supporting her children, Spivey was working full-time and only had the means for community college courses. Like many thirty-somethings, she was on a tight budget and still had student loans from when she had originally attended college. Spivey shared that, while it was helpful to attend classes, she was taking one or two at a time and began to become concerned at how long the process was taking. Plus, it was difficult to fit in a full-time job and taking care of her kids on top of classes.As a result, she shifted her goals, feeling that it was better for her to work toward her degree full-time, so she wouldn’t have to take night courses which would impact her kids. That’s exactly what Spivey set out to do.She embarked on the process about a year before she actually intended on going back to school in order to give her plenty of time to gain the funding she needed to make her goals a reality. During her time researching scholarships and financial aid, Spivey discovered Fastweb. According to Spivey, “I found that Fastweb was the number one site I’d use – the majority of my scholarship search was done with Fastweb. I don’t think I could have done it without it. Fastweb is the easy way – it does the work for you.” With the help of Fastweb, Spivey began applying for any and all scholarships she qualified for and put 100 percent of her efforts toward doing so. But, as with most worthwhile things, Spivey’s scholarship search wasn’t easy. Spivey applied for her first scholarship and details, “I put everything I had into it - my essay was tailored and I worked hard on the application. It turns out I didn’t get it and I was heartbroken. But, it started me on the path of how to apply to scholarships. I did that one, so I figured I could do others.”That first year, Spivey applied for a total of 67 scholarships and received decline letters for the majority of them. Those letters, thankfully, didn’t discourage her from pursuing her dream, instead it helps her gain a different perspective on the whole situation. “For every 1 scholarship I won, I received at least 10 rejections. I switched my perspective: I counted the “no” letters and when I got to 10, I knew a yes was coming soon! There was a time that I was getting a decline letter in the mail every day.” That first year, her dedication and efforts paid off. Spivey was awarded $18,500 in scholarships to attend school and, because many of the scholarships she applied for were for single parents, working mothers and adult students, she was able to supplement her income with the additional award amounts she won for things like childcare, housing, etc. after paying for her tuition. Spivey was ultimately awarded 22 scholarships, totaling over $100,000 throughout the five years she returned to college, in addition to the Federal Pell Grants and the Indiana State Frank O’Bannon Grant Higher Education Award.
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