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College or bust

Brittney M. Walker | 1/28/2009, 5 p.m.

Los Angeles, CA - College isn't cheap, but it's important for youth to get a college degree. According to Collegeboard.com, the average price for a private education at a four-year institution is $25,143 per year, which was 5.9% higher in 2008 than the previous year.

But don't let the numbers scare you. Everyone has a right to education; but unfortunately, most of us just don't have the money. There are options to explore. Instead of taking out massive loans, consider scholarships, which do not have to be paid back. They are available for high school students as young as 14, single parents, first-generation college students, and even people with red hair. There is absolutely too much money available for anyone to have to pay for school. So, we have compiled a short list of scholarship opportunities and resources.

Before applying, it is especially important for each student to ask him or herself a few questions: What is my major? Where do I want to go to school? What are my talents? What extra curricular activities do I participate in? What career do I want to pursue? What physical disabilities do I have? Disabilities, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and religion can get a student high scholarship awards, so do not hesitate to include that information on your application.

As you or your student go on that scholarship hunt, start locally at community organizations like churches, family centers, neighborhood businesses and organizations. Start early. Do not procrastinate because some of these opportunities only come around once. Research the financial aid available at prospective colleges, especially for your major. Don't forget to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form at fafsa.ed.org because you may be eligible for the government to pay for your tuition. Finally, ask your high school and college career counselors about money for school. College can be free if you look for that money.

Specialized Scholarships
Art of Problem Solving (Math Scholarships) - artofproblemsolving.com
National Society of Black Engineers - national.nsbe.org
Organization of Black Pilots - obap.org
National Bar Institute - nationalbar.org
National Association of Black Journalists - NABJ.org
National Association of Hispanic Journalists - NAHJ.org
National Association of Asian Journalists - NAAJ.org
Medical Help Network - medicalhelpnet.com
Straight Forward Media Teacher Scholarships - straightforwardmedia.com
The Association of Writers & Writing - awpwriter.org
NASA Education - education.nasa.gov

Greek Organizations
Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) - akaeaf.org
The AKA Merit Scholarship awards funds to current college students. To apply, students must be enrolled full-time as an undergraduate sophomore or above, or graduate student, demonstrate academic achievement with a minimum GPA of 3.0, and demonstrate community service and involvement.
Delta Sigma Theta - deltasigmatheta.org
Sigma Gamma Rho - sgrho1922.org
Zeta Phi Beta - zphib1920.org
Alpha Phi Alpha - alphaphialpha.net
Iota Phi Theta - iotaphitheta.org
Kappa Alpha Psi - kappaalphapsi1911.com
Omega Psi Phi - omegapsiphifraternity.org
Phi Beta Sigma- pbs1914.org
Community Organizations
Magic Johnson Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program - magicjohnson.org
Applicants must currently be a senior in high school with plans to attend a four-year college or university in the fall, have a GPA of at least a 2.5, and be a resident of Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles or New York. The deadline is the first Friday of every February.
National Urban League - nul.org/scholarships
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - NAACP.org
Jackie Robinson Foundation - jackierobinson.org
United Negro College Fund - uncf.org
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation - cbcfinc.org

Corporate Scholarship Funds
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation- coca-colascholars.org
Bank of America Joe Martin Scholarship - bankofamerica.com/foundation
Burger King Scholars - bk.com/companyinfo/community/scholarships
Best Buy Scholarship - bestbuy.scholarshipamerica.org
Wal-Mart Foundation - walmartstores.com/CommunityGiving
Intel Science Talent Search - sciserv.org
Ronald McDonald House Charities - rmhc.org
Dell Scholars Program - dellscholars.org
Toyota Community Scholars Program- toyota.com
Gates Millennium Scholarship - gmsp.org

Scholarship Search Engines
Scholarships.com
Fastweb.com
Collegeboard.com
Blackexcel.org
College-Scholarships.com
NextStudent.com
Collegeanswer.com
StudentScholarshipSearch.com