How to pay for college is a common concern for parents. Many states, including Tennessee, have scholarships that are funded by some type of state program. This can be one of the most effective and practical ways to pay for advanced education. The new Tennessee Promise program will even cover the first two years for associate’s or certificate programs (e.g., surgical technology, HVAC, automotive, information technology, etc.). Tennessee state colleges provide lottery-funded scholarships that can pay a large part of your tuition or even fully pay for a bachelor’s degree. There are grade requirements, but the main requirement is your SAT/ACT score. These tests are pivotal in getting funding for college.
To help your child prepare for these tests and increase your chances of paying for college the main, essential, key thing to do is to continue to fully put into practice what we are taught by Gwen Shamblin at Remnant Fellowship! That is so essential! There are some practical steps you can take to prepare, but they do not compare with the principle of putting your relationship with God first! While you are working on that, you can:
- Start early and practice. Have your child take a practice test or two so that they will know what to expect. (It is usually easiest to get these from test prep books you can buy. They are often very affordable). Discuss with your child how “filling out the bubbles” on the test page works and then walk through the questions that they missed. This can be fun and sweet! It does not need to be a tough, all-day affair. You could maybe start with just one section of the test per day in the beginning and space it out.
- Consider taking one of the actual tests when your child is about 13 or 14 years old (or earlier or later based upon your child’s readiness). Alternate the tests each semester or each year to see which test your child performs better on. These can even count as end-of-year assessments for homeschoolers in many cases. You schedule the tests yourself by going to these websites: http://www.actstudent.org/regist/ and https://sat.collegeboard.org/register
- As part of your child’s education, use some type of test prep program. Several families have found that shmoop.com has a good prep program. Strategy books are also helpful. There is a brand new, free option for “official SAT test prep” from Khan Academy in partnership with the SAT makers. That sounds very promising. https://www.khanacademy.org/sat
- The SAT is changing completely this March, so be sure to use the Khan site or a book/prep program that is updated based on the new standards. This article has coverage on what is changing with the test: http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/05/living/sat-test-changes-schools/
- Help your child to keep in mind that their efforts and results on these test scores can make thousands of dollars of difference in their educational funding. Even just a few points more can bring 4,000 to 12,000 dollars more funding over the course of four years. However, if the test is frustrating to your child, be sure to check in with Guidance and not make it painful! There are other educational options! College is not the only (or sometimes even the best way) for advanced education. The options for community colleges and certificate programs are also sometimes great avenues to careers with growth potential.
- Timing is important as well. Most deadlines for college applications are in December of the applicant’s senior year, so your absolute best score needs to be back by the late fall of that year, so do not put off testing!
- Many colleges only consider your highest score, so it is typically fine if one you take later is lower, but it is good to verify that with your school of choice. You can always choose not to report your score to a particular school until you are ready to send one in.
Here are the scholarship amounts for MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) based upon your scores. They are in addition to the Hope Scholarship (3,500 to 4,000 dollars per year)