Set Up a High School Student for Success With the Best Part-Time Job

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If you and your teenager have stayed up late discussing what you would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse, there’s great news.

Your survival plan could mean a college scholarship for your teen.

No, this isn’t a late April Fools’ joke. The “Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship” is real. And so is the $2,000 award that goes with it. It’s one of thousands of scholarships your teen could apply for. There are so many, in fact, that finding them and filling out the applications could be a part-time job in itself!

What Does My Teen Need to Do Before Searching for Scholarships?

Before your teen begins to apply for that zombie scholarship, the two of you need to do a little groundwork.

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1. Fill out the FAFSA.

That stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” Most colleges won’t award students scholarships if they don’t fill out the FAFSA, so start there. Since it takes time to complete, plan ahead. The FAFSA requires basic demographic and financial information about you and your teen.

Although the FAFSA will tell you which student loans your teen qualifies for, steer them clear of accumulating mountains of debt for their education. There are lots of other options that won’t leave you or your child on the hook for thousands of dollars.

2. Get copies of their high school transcript.

Some scholarship applications require originals, so make sure your teen asks for several from their school.

3. Write a résumé.

Here’s your teen’s chance to show the scholarship committees what they’re made of! Schools and organizations love rewarding accomplished teens with money for school, so your teen should list all clubs, organizations, honors and other highlights from freshman year forward as well as non-school activities like church and volunteer involvement.

4. Start applying right away.

Most of the legwork to win scholarships happens during senior year. But that isn’t the only possible time to put a dent in future tuition bills. Did you know some scholarships can be acquired as early as a teen’s freshman year of high school? That’s right! In fact, the zombie apocalypse scholarship is open to freshmen! Encourage your teen to go find some of the scholarships aimed at younger students and not wait until senior year to apply.

How Can I Motivate My Teen to Find Scholarships?

Providing incentives for your teen to search for and fill out scholarship applications will be more effective than nagging them at dinner. Here are a few ways you can encourage Junior to find free money:

1. Tell them to check THIS out!

To give your teen an easy place to start, let them know about our $58,000 Financial Literacy Challenge. Until April 25, seniors have a chance to win one of SIX scholarships, including FOUR worth $10,000 each! And we didn’t forget underclassmen, who can win one of three $500 Amazon gift cards. Your teen can enter today at daveramsey.com/challenge!

2. Do the math.

Your teen may have a vague idea of college expenses, but sitting down with a calculator and a pen to add up the actual cost may kick their scholarship hunt into high gear.

3. Match the money.

If you can, agree to match a percentage of the scholarship money your teen wins. The more scholarship money they earn, the more you pitch in for school. Think of it as a 401(k) matching plan with your teen as the employee.

4. Exempt the chores.

Teens will do almost anything to avoid cleaning their room or doing the dishes. Agree to occasionally dismiss them from dish duty if they put in enough time to do scholarship work. (Make sure you see evidence!)

5. Offer to organize.

Applying to multiple scholarships can be confusing. Each has different requirements, deadlines, essay topics, usernames and passwords. If your teen isn’t the organized type, you might offer to pitch in to keep them on track. Missing a deadline could cost them thousands—literally! Think of it this way: If your teen spends one hour filling out an application for a $250 scholarship and wins, then they made $250 an hour. Now imagine a scholarship of $1,000, $5,000, or even $10,000. That’s a great return on the investment of time and energy!

Our $58,000 Financial Literacy Challenge runs from April 6 to April 25. Students can take a brief survey and financial literacy quiz at daveramsey.com/challenge for a chance to win some awesome prizes! Seniors have a chance to win one of four $10,000 scholarships, a $5,000 scholarship, and a $2,000 scholarship. Underclassmen can win one of three $500 Amazon gift cards. Thanks to Churchill Mortgage for their sponsorship of the Challenge.

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