Back to school: Free money, scholarships are the way

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

We all know how expensive college is but don't let that keep you from applying. There are plenty of scholarships out there if you know where to look. 

College be an expensive venture with in-state tuition at most Arizona universities costing around $10,000 a year and out of state tuition costing more than $20,000 and those kinds of numbers scare students.

“We tell our students, 'Never let the cost of college keep you from applying,'" said Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez, founder and CEO of Aguila Youth Leadership Institute, which helps prepare students for college.

“Our program is, it's a college prep program, but it's more than just an ordinary college prep program," she said. "We prepare students for college entrance but also for leadership.”

According to Ybarra-Hernandez, a secondary education can be affordable, but you just have to know where to find financial help.
“There is money, the analogy that I use is that there is a lot of fish in the ocean you just having to go fishing,” she said.

And fishing means applying for scholarships. Right now, Ybarra-Hernandez said there are millions of dollars in scholarship money available and sometimes wasted.

“There are some scholarships that people don't even apply to and it's true, money goes by the wayside because people just don't apply,” she said.

Salvador Macias is one of the success stories.

“It is possible, I'm here,” Macias said.

He just recently graduated from Arizona State University with two bachelor’s degrees, and his cost?

“I paid nothing to go to Arizona State University,” he said.

That's because Macias did a lot of digging and found those scholarships. And without those scholarships, he said college wouldn't have been a possibility.

“When your parents are making on average $27,000 together a year, how are you going to pay for out-of-state tuition, but yearly tuition alone would be what they make in a year," Macias said. "There was no way I was going to make it.”

And according to Ybarra-Hernandez, you wouldn't believe some of the scholarships that are out there.

“Oh, there are crazy scholarships," she said. "There was one scholarship one time for someone who was 4 foot 10."

And remember as students continue their search for scholarships, Ybarra-Hernandez also told us good grades equal more dollars so some extra study time could mean more money later.

*For more information on the Aguila Youth Leadership Institute, visit