MIAMI (CBS4) – If you’ve been waiting for you child to be in their senior year in high school to start searching for scholarships, you may have waited too long.
Thousands of dollars in scholarship funds are given away each year to young children and the competition isn’t as stiff as you might think.
Avalon Theisan has dedicated her life to saving the environment. At the age of 10 she started her own non-profit.
“I just love doing something good for our planet,” said Theisan.
She’s been able to turn that love into money for college. She’s won multiple scholarships after barely turning double digits.
“It’s expensive these days to go to school and anything helps,” said Avalon’s mother Deborah Theisan.
One study has predicted that the average price for a private university in 2030 could be as high as $130,000 a year. Even state universities could cost more than $40,000 annually.
Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the FinAid.org website and author of Secrets to Winning a Scholarship, feels parents should start looking very early for scholarship dollars.
“Some of these scholarship programs aren’t very competitive because parents aren’t thinking about scholarships for their children who are under age 13,” said Kantrowitz.
Jessica Johnson, founder of the Scholarship Academy, said these awards run the gamut from academic achievement to service to the community.
For example, Kohl’s offers a $10,000 scholarship for children age six and up who are involved in community service projects. The Gloria Barron Prize offers $2,500 to environmental activists ages eight through 18.
“So you want to start thinking about what your child is passionate about and then research the scholarships in those specific categories,” said Johnson.
Art enthusiasts may find inspiration in Google.com’s “Doodle 4 Google” which offers up to $30,000 in college money as a prize.
Whatever the child’s talent, there’s probably a scholarship to fit it.
“There are some normal scholarships and then some more unusual scholarships that involve quirky things like playing marbles,” Kantrowitz pointed out.
Another fun one – Jif’s (peanut butter) has a “Most Creative Sandwich Contest” which awards $25,000 to the best young chef.
Johnson said parents shouldn’t’ be afraid to help build a child’s “scholarship brand” early on.
“If they love nature, then make sure they’re doing some recycling program. If they’re great at public speaking, you want to start honing those skills,” said Johnson.
Theisan and her mother are thrilled for the chance to save the world and save for college.
“It’s not waiting ’til the last couple years of school and then I want to go to college. She’s doing it now,” said Deborah Theisan.
So how do parents find out about the different kids of scholarships? The internet has plenty of information and there are always school guidance counselors. Kantrowitz reminds parents that they shouldn’t have to pay for scholarship information.