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Scholarships and college preparation

By Mackenzi Frederick
For the Taos News
Posted 2/20/19

Our columnist encourages all those considering postsecondary education to plan ahead, especially high school juniors. Here are simple steps juniors can take now...

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Scholarships and college preparation

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For many students pursuing a postsecondary education - whether a vocational certification, two- or four-year degree - financing college can be a daunting prospect. Students may qualify for federal, state and college-specific financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA - studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa) each year they're in college. This aid can include grants, scholarships, work-study jobs and loans. Bridges encourages students also to apply for private scholarships, which can help defray the costs of tuition, fees, room, board and living.

Local businesses, civic and philanthropic organizations fund an array of scholarships that Bridges encourages students to apply for. Be aware that all scholarships have eligibility requirements, whether they're need- or merit-based. Scholarship award committees consider the applicant's academic record, awards and honors, college preparatory test scores (ACT and SAT), extracurricular activities and community involvement.

Taos High School will post a scholarship list on its website in early March, thanks to the coordinating efforts of Camille Rivera. Area graduating seniors should review this list to determine which are a good match. You can find that list on the THS website under the Resources tab: taosschools.org/index.php/schools/ths. Most of these scholarships use the Common Scholarship Application, which includes an optional resume and/or a personal statement. Applicants then fulfill individual scholarship requirements, from writing an essay to submitting a high school transcript.

Other local scholarships are funded by Centinel Bank of Taos (centinelbank.com/education-awards.htm#scholarships), Taos Community Foundation (taoscf.org) and Taos Milagro Rotary Club (TaosRotary.org). Each organization offers several scholarships for students with different backgrounds and postsecondary goals. They have their own application and requirements.

Additional scholarships with upcoming deadlines for students who will enroll full-time in fall 2019 include: Sparx & Lorenzo Antonio Foundation (New Mexico public high school graduating seniors, due March 8 - sparxlorenzoantonio.org/english/application-forms) ARTsmart (New Mexico high school seniors, due May 1 - artsmartnm.org/scholarships) and the Full Circle scholarship, funded by the American Indian College Fund (future and current Native American college students, due May 31 - collegefund.org/student-resources/scholarships/scholarship-programs).

Bridges posts other scholarship opportunities throughout the year on our website (bridgesproject.org/resources) and on Facebook (facebook.com/bridgesprojecttaos).

Postsecondary preparation for juniors

Bridges encourages all those considering postsecondary education to plan ahead, especially high school juniors. Simple steps juniors can take now:

• Review your transcript. Ensure you have the credits to graduate and fulfill the course requirements at the colleges you are exploring. Open admissions schools have different admissions criteria than selective colleges.

• Research colleges and create a college list. Consider a variety of schools. Find college search tools on Bridges' website (bridgesproject.org/resources). Books such as Colleges That Change Lives and The Princeton Review are available in our office or on the shelves of your school or public library.

• Take the ACT and/or the SAT. Most colleges and many scholarships request scores from one of these tests. Study and take practice tests in advance.

• Stay engaged. Participate in extracurricular activities that appeal to your interests. Find an internship or explore a career interest through an evening, weekend or summer job.

Bridges can help you find and apply for scholarships. We can assist you in planning your actions through junior and senior year, or even before. Starting early means the admissions and financial aid process can be more manageable and less stressful. We want you to understand your options and support you through your process. Call (575) 758-5074 or email info@bridgesproject.org to schedule an appointment.

Mackenzi Frederick is a Bridges Project for Education college counselor and development coordinator. Bridges provides free college counseling for students of all ages.

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