For low-income parents, sending your children to school may seem like an impossibility. You might wonder how your children will get to college without the financial means. The answer to that is simple: good grades. This is my personal story of how high grades and low-income parents helped me get scholarships and aid that covered more than just my college expenses.
When I was in elementary school, I lived in a single-income home with four kids. My parents told me that good grades were the key to all of my success. I worked hard in school and my parents praised me for it. Their approval was my motivation. In the fourth grade, my efforts paid off in the form of a nearly full-ride scholarship to any college or university in my state. This scholarship was available only to students elected by their teachers and who were on “free and reduced lunch” because of low-income status. Throughout the rest of my schooling, this scholarship required that my GPA remain at a 3.0 without a single D or F. I maintained it with my parents’ continued motivation.
In my senior year, another nearly full-ride scholarship opportunity arose. It was for any senior with a 3.5 or higher GPA and an SAT score of 870 or above, regardless of honors or non-honors status. I met the credentials, so I applied and received the scholarship. The scholarships did not stop there, however.
I applied to my choice university during my senior year and made it in. When I opened the acceptance letter in the mail, I was surprised to see that they were offering me yet another scholarship opportunity that I was unaware I qualified for. Any student who had a 3.75 or higher GPA and an 1100 SAT score or higher automatically won a scholarship for a total of $6,000. This was the cost of one year’s tuition and fees at the university.
After filling in my FAFSA for financial aid, I found out that my parent’s low-income status also qualified me for grant money. This totaled about another $500 per year. Low income had paid off again.
When I started at the university I was able to buy all of my textbooks by advancing my financial aid funds and received a check for $1,800 soon after classes started. This amount continued to be deposited into my bank account every single semester for the next four years. Total: over $14,000. I lived at home and worked a part-time job so that I was able to buy a car with that money.
I graduated last May and currently teach full-time in a public school. I now have the opportunity to motivate my students toward the same path that I took, but I have found that my students are motivated more by their parents than they will ever be motivated by me.
Parents, if you give any good advice to your children, tell them to make the highest grades possible. You have more influence over their performance than any teacher, counselor, or friend will ever have. Guide and motivate them, and they may eventually get paid to go to college.