You’ve watched them grow up, cheered them on at countless soccer games and dance recitals and hoped they would have an abundance of opportunities. Now your grandchild is beginning (or maybe already attending) college and looking for resources to fund it—and you may be wondering how you can help.
There are several ways a grandparent can help their student fund their education. Beyond assisting with college savings plans or donating direct gifts, grandparents can take advantage of their affiliations to help their grandchildren land renewable, generous scholarships for their college education.
Many organizations work to provide scholarships or support reduced tuition for retired U.S. military service members and their families. Whether you are an active or retired service member, there is an abundance of scholarships available for your grandchildren. A simple and valuable place to start is by simply entering your service affiliation and the words “grandchildren” and “scholarships” into your favorite search engine and seeing what returns.
One organization in particular, the AMVETS National Service Foundation, annually awards scholarships to veterans and active military members, their children and their grandchildren. Children and grandchildren of deceased veterans are also eligible. Six $4,000 scholarships for high school seniors ($1,000 per year of a four-year undergraduate program) are awarded annually on the basis of academic excellence and financial need.
Many community organizations also offer scholarships for members’ children and grandchildren. For example, Elks, a fraternal order with nearly a million members and a 146-year history, awards more than $4 million a year in college scholarships.
One scholarship in particular, the Legacy Award, is available exclusively for children or grandchildren of any living Elk who joined the order on or before April 1, 2012. Legacy Awards are $4,000 scholarships (one $1,000 per year for four years), and the Foundation offers up to 250 awards each year. Applications, which include standardized test scores, transcripts, essays and Elk sponsor information, are judged based on the Foundation’s four core values: knowledge, charity, community and integrity.
Numerous colleges and universities offer “legacy” scholarships to continue family tradition of attendance. Ohio University, for example, offers the Legacy Scholarship for undergraduate students with at least one direct lineage Ohio University graduate. Four $1,000 scholarships are awarded each year—one for each class level at the university. The application includes basic information entry, two reference letters and one small essay. The deadline to apply is Feb. 1, 2015.
If your grandchild is interested in or already attending, your alma mater, make sure you check into the availability of legacy scholarships.
Not sure if any of your affiliations can provide scholarship opportunities to your grandchildren? Don’t give up quite yet! There are many scholarships available for grandchildren of a specific heritage. For example, students of Italian descent (at least one Italian or Italian American grandparent) are eligible to apply for merit-based scholarships offered by the Sons of Italy Foundation (SIF).
SIF offers 10 to 12 merit-based scholarships ranging from $4,000 to $25,000 in a nationwide competition, varying each year according to funding. Applications and academic transcripts are evaluated by education professionals, and final selections are made by the Order of Sons of Italy in America’s national education committee. Applications for the 2015 competition will open November 2014.
If you’re not sure where to begin, you can help your grandchild by providing them with a resume or list of all of your affiliations, including past and present employers, unions, military service, memberships, hobbies and activities. Not only will you provide ideas for additional scholarship sources to research, but you will also give them an opportunity to learn more about your personal and their family history.
-- This post was written by Sarah Ober, Scholarship America communications intern