Teens: Money & Scholarships

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Scholarship Q&A

Question: How do I find scholarships? Answer: Three kinds of scholarships exist: Merit (grade) based, Need based, and those for Special Populations (left-handers, your parent's employer, your church, or clubs you may belong to, to name a few!). You can search for scholarships online, but never pay to search or apply for a scholarship.
Question: When do I have to fill out the FAFSA application? Answer: The FAFSA opens October 1 each year, and you'll need an FSA ID for you and each of your parents in place to complete the application. You'll need to apply every year you are in college... not just for freshman year (same goes for scholarships - you have to re-apply every year).
Question: When is the FAFSA due? Answer: In an effort to get people information about their aid packages earlier in the year, so students can make informed decisions about which school to attend, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board bumped the deadline up by a full two months.
Question: My grades aren't that great. What are my options? Answer: Community College may be your best bet. It can act as a
Question: How many schools should I apply to? Answer: Around six schools, with a reasonable spread, meaning that two of the schools are a good match for you, academically, two schools are a bit of a reach for you, academically, and two schools that would be safe bets for admitting you, based on your academic profile (GPA + test scores).
Question: How long should my personal statement be? Answer: Two to three pages at most. Don't waste time repeating stuff that's in your application - instead, talk about what makes you special, or use the statement to explain inconsistencies in your academic or testing record. Remember that your first attempt is always a draft. Get several different editors to give you feedback about whether you are successfully telling your story. 
Question: What's the difference between early decision, and early action? Answer: Early Decision is a legally binding option - if you get accepted, then you must withdraw all other pending applications from other schools you may have applied to. Early Action is not binding; it means your materials are turned in earlier and your application is considered among a smaller pool of applicants.

Teen Money Topics (click through tabs)

The topic tabs here each contain resources that Muna found helpful for teens exploring personal finance topics. 

Want more?

Check out the free High School Financial Planning Program, which is a self-paced, 6-module online workshop series, which is fully funded by the Endowment for Financial Education, which is a noncommercial, unbiased personal finance curriculum for teens. Modules include Money Management, Borrowing, Earning Power, Investing, Financial Services, and Insurance, as well as info on Identity Fraud. 

Budgeting / Saving

Saving up for things you want is an important life skill. Having a budget where you "pay yourself first" -- meaning you save up for things you need and want before spending money on other things, can help you achieve your goals and stay out of debt.


Contrary to popular belief, teens are required to file for taxes if they are earning an income. The good news is the, often, the government will owe you a refund because as a teen, you aren't likely to make a very high income... and a refund means a windfall for you every April!

Banking / Credit Unions

Do you keep your savings in cash, or store them in the Bank or Credit Union? There are many benefits (like free check cashing, and automatic bill pay) to keeping your money in a bank or credit union account -- and it's safer from theft, loss, or accidents like fire. 


Investing is an option for you if you have some savings and are okay with taking a bit of a gamble on the chance that your investment will earn you more money than a typical savings account, CD, or other savings account. In short, you are buying an investment that you hopefully will be able to sell at a profit later. Investments are things like stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities.



Debt - or loans - can help you buy things you wouldn't otherwise be able to afford, or which would take a very long time to save for (like a house). Only about 25% of Americans are debt-free. Avoiding debt int he first place is the easiest way to stay debt-free, but it can require careful planning and persistence. 

Credit & Credit Scores

A credit score or credit rating is a number that lenders will use to figure out if you are likely to pay back the money you borrowed (see Debt). If you have a "good" score, you are more likely to be able to borrow money, to be able to borrow more money, and to borrow it at a lower interest rate - meaning it will cost you less in the long-run. 


In the U.S. people typically live an average of 20 years after retirement. If you aren't working - whether by choice or because ailing health makes it harder to work -- how do you pay the bills? Learn more with these resources. 


Mortgages are a loan that is secured by property you may own, like a house or a condo. In agreement for the loan, you agree that if you don't pay it back, the lender can take your property. Many people buy their first home with a mortgage of 20-30 years and pay it off over time, but people can also take out a mortgage on a paid-off home. 

Financial Justice

Fines, fees, and criminalization around these, has a disproportionate affect and impact on poor Americans. Find out more about financial justice, and what you can do about it. 

Teen Money Q&A

Scholarship Tools

The following databases can help you find scholarships to pay for college:

College Board Scholarship Search

Find scholarships, other financial aid and internships from more than 2,200 programs, totaling nearly $6 billion. Enter as much information as possible to find the most matches

FastWeb's Scholarship Search

Database includes scholarships from many U.S. universities. Current college students can find the scholarships their school offers, or you can browse scholarships offered by a specific university.

Peterson's Scholarship Search

Peterson's scholarship search tool allows you to filter available scholarships by school type, ethnicity, gender, field of study, state of residence, award type, and more.

Austin Amateur Radio Club Scholarships

If you're into STEM and are willing to get your amateur radio license, that can translate to between $5-25,000 in scholarships from the AARC, which gives out $150,000 in scholarships to Austin area students each year.

CapEx Scholarship Search

Requires you to make an account, but then allows you to search a large database of possible scholarships to apply for.

Teen Curator

Muna B. 

Age 17 |  Pflugerville, TX

I’m so excited to be working with Austin Public Library on helping y'all understand personal finance. I really wanted to work on something like this because, growing up, I was told how important managing money was but I wasn’t sure where to start. I hope these resources serve as a guide on where to start, and more importantly I hope that each and every one of you are empowered by the knowledge you gain about YOUR money. 

Books to help you manage your money