A common challenge for prospective new NSLS members is how to pay the initial membership fee. After all, being a student at any stage of life can understandably put a strain on anyone’s budget.
Though the NSLS offers numerous financial awards through scholarships and grants, we aren’t currently able to offer direct assistance with your membership fee. However, accessibility to leadership development is important to us and we strive to provide assistance in any way we can. Below, you’ll find some effective ways to help cover your membership fee.
1. Ask Your Chapter Advisor
Your chapter advisor may know about sponsorship funds or programs that can help you pay for your membership. Such funds might be specific to your institution, department, or program of study.
If your school doesn't already have a program like this, you can launch one yourself! Work with your advisor and other chapter members to brainstorm companies that might be willing to work with your chapter to help offset your membership fee.
For example, the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology chapter of the NSLS is funded by United Airlines, who pays the membership fee for every inducted member. It’s a mutually-beneficial relationship because the airline benefits from well-educated graduates, while the school benefits from the presence of an active chapter on campus.
These kinds of partnerships can be an untapped source of financial assistance. Talk to your chapter advisor about ways your chapter might be able to pursue similar sponsorship opportunities.
2. Look for Other Sources of Aid
You can also explore sources outside of your school that might offer additional gift aid (i.e. financial assistance that doesn’t have to be repaid).
Gift aid can come from a variety of organizations, including state and local governments, agencies, and nonprofit organizations. You may want to start with your school’s financial aid office for assistance and then explore other resources, including:
Don’t forget to double-check the terms of each grant or scholarship to ensure its funds can be used to pay expenses other than tuition, books, and room and board.
3. Seek Out an Individual Sponsor
In addition to groups that might be able to sponsor an entire chapter, you may also want to explore individual sponsors for your own benefit. Remember, it’s never a good idea to just cold-call or email people to ask for money out of the blue.
Instead, think about people with whom you have some kind of existing relationship, such as a pastor, former employer, advisor, professor, or someone within your intended profession. Look for people you’re already on friendly terms with who’ve helped you in the past.
Mention how your membership will be good for your future career, including access to scholarships and specialized leadership training, as well as opportunities to give back to the community.
4. Consider Asking Professional Groups or Your Employer
Most employers value the education and growth of their employees. So, why not ask your employer if they'd help you cover your membership fee?
Emphasize the benefits to your skill set — and the company itself — from participating in NSLS leadership training and development. Some employers may even offer this type of perk for part-time and student employees.
Finally, consider exploring financial aid designed for working professionals, such as this list of scholarships. These scholarships may be a bit less competitive and more accessible than others.
Invest in Your Future
We understand how challenging financial obstacles can be, especially when you’re trying to pursue your education and launch or further your career. Don’t dismiss that NSLS invitation too quickly, though. Get creative and look for funds to help you make a smart investment for your future.