LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - If you've been waiting for your child to hit senior year in high school to start searching for scholarships, you may be missing out on some serious cash.
Thousands of college dollars are given away each year to toddlers even, and the competition isn't as stiff as you think.
News 19's Kacey Persson explains why it's never too early to start the scholarship search.
Avalon Theisan has already dedicated her life to saving the environment. She started her own non-profit when she was just 10 years old!
Avalon Theisan, a Scholarship Recipient says, "I just love doing something good for our planet."
And she's been able to turn that love into real money for college, winning multiple scholarships after barely turning double digits.
Deborah Theisan, Avalon's Mom says, "It's expensive these days to go to school and anything helps."
Mom's right. In fact, one study predicted the average sticker price for a private university in the year 2030 could be as high as $130,000 a year!
Even state universities cost more than $40,000. But your kid genius can start scoring scholarships -- get this -- in kindergarten!
Mark Kantrowitz, a Scholarship Expert says, "Some of these scholarship programs aren't very competitive because parents aren't thinking about scholarships for their children who are under age 13."
Jessica Johnson, Founder of the Scholarship Academy says these awards range in everything from academic achievement, to stand-outs for service.
For example: Kohl's offers a $10,000 scholarship for kids six and up who are involved in community projects.
Jessica says, "So you want to start thinking about what your child is passionate about and then research the scholarships in those specific categories."
Art enthusiasts might find inspiration for Google's "Doodle 4 Google." The prize? A whopping $30,000 of college cash.
Whatever your child's talent, there's probably a scholarship to fit it.
Mark says, "There are some normal scholarships and then some more unusual scholarships that involve quirky things like playing marbles."
Another fun one: Jif's "Most Creative Sandwich Contest" which awards $25,000 to the best young sandwich chef.
The lesson for parents: apply early and often. Johnson says parents shouldn't be afraid to help build a child's "scholarship brand" early on.
Jessica says, "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."
Avalon's thrilled for the chance to save the world. Her mom's thrilled to save for college.
So how do you find these scholarships?
To start finaid.com offers a comprehensive website.
For local or regional opportunities, you might check with a child's teacher or guidance counselor, or even on the billboards at your child's school.
In addition, some opportunities may be listed in the coupon section of Sunday's newspaper and a local toy store might also have scholarship opportunities advertised on their packaging.
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