Enrichment programs have rapidly grown in cost. More ambitious subject matter, hiring qualified and trained staff, and rising competition for children have made some programs difficult to afford. Add in necessary travel costs to the program’s facility and it’s easy to see why some families think that enrichment programs aren’t in their budget. Thankfully for parents, most programs can and do offer some form of an enrichment scholarship. This can range from a discounted upfront cost to simple monetary aid to help a child attend.
Some programs may only offer limited amounts of financial aid to prospective attendees. The Cornell University Summer College series of programs only offers a small amount of financial aid. This is because the Summer College programs also count towards credit at Cornell University. Additionally, some of the sessions last for as long as 6 weeks. Typically, longer programs and those that offer college credit are the least likely to offer much financial aid. Foreign programs also do not make much financial aid available unless they are collaborating with a university in the United States. Picking a local program which does not offer college credit is one simple way to find a more affordable enrichment option.
Enrichment programs may award an enrichment scholarship on merit, in addition to separate scholarships for need. It’s important for parents to ask early about merit-based scholarships as programs typically offer fewer of them than need-based scholarships. Merit-based scholarships can be awarded on a students’ grade point average. A verified school transcript will often need to be submitted. Essays or small paragraphs are also common ways for merit-based scholarships to be awarded. Topics typically revolve around why a child wants to attend the program or the program’s subject matter.
Some companies, charitable foundations, or endowments may sponsor children to attend an enrichment activity. If a program does not offer an enrichment scholarship, parents may be able to seek financial assistance from other sources. If the enrichment program is based at a university, the admissions office may be able to help parents locate alternative financial aid. This can depend on whether the university is sponsoring the program or only renting space to the participants.
Programs occasionally offer discounts for attending late summer or seasonal sessions, multiple children from the same family who attend, or referrals. Parents should ask about any possible discounts when enrolling their child. For enrichment programs such as learning a musical instrument, sometimes the program can provide loaner materials. Other programs may provide all of the materials children will need. This can help children who may not be able to afford all of the necessary materials that can go along with a specific enrichment program. For example, the Baruch College Experience of the City University of New York (CUNY) provides lunch cards, metro cards, and textbooks to its attendees.
Cost should not be a barrier for any family to send their child to an enrichment activity. Nearly all programs offer some form of financial aid or scholarships to deserving children. Although programs may not publicize that they offer an enrichment scholarship, parents should feel free to ask about financial aid. Most programs only have a limited amount of financial aid and would like to give it to the most deserving recipients. If a program cannot offer enough financial aid upfront, consider asking about alternative payment options such as layaway. What’s important is that the parents work with the program to find the right solution for the child. Although it may be difficult, parents should be willing to accept some assistance so that their children can attend an enrichment activity.