Being an "average Joe," or having parents who are just regular folks, can actually help you get a scholarship. While there are a vast number of scholarships available for people that fit into certain classes, there are also funds available for just about everyone. Scholarships can come from governments, employers or from your community. Another tip to finding a scholarship when you're an "average Joe" is to remember that everyone is unique. You have special attributes that could make you eligible for money as well.
If, by average Joe, you mean that you're a middle class person from a middle class family, you could be eligible for free money from the government. The Pell Grant is available if your family has an income of up to about $60,000 per year, as of the 2013-2014 school year. Many states offer grants, too. Pennsylvania's grant program can be available even if your family makes $99,999 per year. California's Cal Grant programs are tied to your grades, but the most generous grant only requires a 3.0 and the Cal Grant B requires just a 2.0 GPA.
Need-Based Non-Government Aid
Many colleges will also provide scholarship money if you have financial need. As an example, Canisius College in Buffalo gives aid packages to 98 percent of its students. While students on aid take out loans, around 75 percent of their packages -- which average around $28,000 -- comes in the form of scholarships and grants. At Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, 74 percent of students received aid in the 2011-2012 year with the majority of their aid also coming from scholarships and grants.
Employers and Organizations
Sometimes, you can get scholarships because of where you or your parents work or because of organizations that you have joined. Many companies offer scholarships to their employees' children. This can apply to a company where you work, as well. Churches and community organizations can also be sources of scholarship money. Sometimes, all you need is to apply or to show interest in the field than an organization represents.
For every scholarship that is tied to someone's grade point average, there are others tied to other factors. Your ethnicity or gender could be a source of scholarship money. Some scholarships are tied to the major that you choose. Others are tied to your interests or hobbies. You could get a scholarship for being good at marbles, being a Star Trek fan or even for taking a quiz about fire sprinklers.
- Bankrate: Scholarships for Average Joes
- BigEd: Federal Pell Grant
- Pennsylvania State Grant Program: Prepare
- California Student Aid Commission: Cal Grant A
- California Student Aid Commission: Cal Grant B
- Canisius College: Financial Aid
- Wright State University: Average Financial Aid Awards
- FastWeb: 15 Weird Scholarships
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.