The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are not hidden to any of us. The education system, especially, is still recovering from them. The sudden disruption not only halted the academic year. It also more or less messed up so many young dreams and lifetime plans. Getting a scholarship under any circumstances isn’t an easy feat. Imagine having to grab a scholarship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, the worst scenario to come is that of the post-pandemic. We don’t even know if the pandemic is over. However, halting another academic year might not be an option. Everyday life must resume, but what if the virus regains control? The 2020 batch of college students have faced the raw, harsh effects of the pandemic. They’ve suffered displacement, unemployment, and helplessness.
Things are still pretty uncertain. Even so, many students are now preparing to enter college. Understandably, they are even more stressed than usual.
That said, we present more ideas to help you nab the scholarship you need:
CARES Act and Scholarship during the COVID-19 Pandemic
To accommodate and relieve students in a sudden emergency, Congress passed the CARES Act late in March. It was to provide relief of 2 trillion dollars to the student loan borrowers. This means that those paying off their loans would do so at zero interest rates.
Unfortunately, this act expires on 30 September. This would mean, the next batch of freshman college students cannot leverage the opportunity. However, there could be new updates to the scholarship process.
In the meantime, here are a few ways to grab a suitable scholarship during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Students who rely on a work-study job have an advantage. Due to the sudden closure of many institutes, many students may have lost their jobs and, in turn, a way to pay their fees. According to the US Department of Education, institutions still paying essential employees are required to pay the FWS students too.
Temporary Pauses are Automatic
The clause pausing federal loan payments will extend. In addition to that, the zero percent interest rate will apply to all federally held student loans. Moreover, federally owned loan collection will discontinue. Any borrowers with garnished wages can receive a refund. Also, there will be refunds for any qualifying federal loan payments made since 13 March.
Months Count during Pause
Then there’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness. After 120 timely installments, the borrower won’t have to pay the rest of the loan. An update during the pandemic allows borrowers to skip a payment. However, a condition that the borrower must be working full time for a qualifying employer does come into play.
Similarly, there’s good news for defaulted federal loan borrowers entering a new rehabilitation program now. The only payments that matter are those taking place between March and December.
Ineligible Federal Loan Borrowers Can Access Emergency Assistance
Loan servicers have become flexible. Even borrowers are not qualified for automatic relief are getting some leeway. This provides urgent forbearances to them.
However, like the CARES Act, the memorandum does not exclude two loan types. One is the non-government Perkins loan. The other are the Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL). Even though these programs do not exist, many borrowers are repaying loans originating from them.
In the case of the exclusions, the borrowers have two options. They can still apply either for emergency forbearance or an income-driven payment plan.
Appeals for Financial Aid
If your source of income has been suddenly cut off, here’s what to do. Write an appeal to your school requesting financial aid. Many schools are willing to provide assistance.
Be Aware of Scams while Applying for a Scholarship during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Getting a scholarship during the COVID-19 pandemic may pose various threats, given the desperation and uncertainty.
Be careful when dealing with “loan servicers” online. When someone wants personal information, never divulge it without doing due diligence. No feds will ask for direct and confidential information. Additionally, some scammers are also asking for an upfront amount in exchange of benefits. Again, immediate and upfront payments are not protocol.
Always be alert for new updates. The Education Department uploads them on their FAQ page. Also, there is news for borrowers in an income-driven payment plan. They may not have to recertify their source of income before the end of the year.
One easy way with which you can nab a scholarship is through a sweepstakes competition. You’ll need to submit the asked-for information. Some also require that you answer a few short questions. Then they’ll enter your application. If you succeed, you can get scholarship money.
The best part? There’s no charge for these contests. The not-so-positive thing? Usually, applicants need to get a lot of marketing material out of the way – both during and after the contest. But if it gets you money to apply to college, would that be such a hardship?
Write Award-Winning Essays to Get a Scholarship during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Similar to the sweepstakes are essay competitions. In such contests, the prizes are small, sure. But the added advantage of them being less competitive makes up for it. Most students will rethink application since they’d have to work on an essay to win. Unlike them, you can push yourself to do that essay even if you don’t like applying for these scholarships.
Does it still sound like a lot of work? Well, then consider something. In a contest where the prize amounts to $500, there are just 10 applications. You spend 10 hours completing the essay. Essentially, it costs you about $50 an hour. Does the math seem bad? We didn’t think that, either!
When preparing for college, start your homework way before time. Apply for scholarships early. Capitalize on all opportunities. Both will serve you well, given the increased demand for scholarships in this pandemic. Most importantly, always land a deal that will prove beneficial in the long run!