(WXYZ) - If you've been waiting for your child to hit senior year in high school to start searching for scholarships, you may be missing out on some serious cash.
Believe it or not thousands of college dollars are given away each year to toddlers and the competition isn't as stiff as you might think.
One study predicted the average sticker price for a private university in 2030 could be as high as $130,000 a year. Even state universities could cost more than $40,000.
But your kid can start scoring scholarships - even in kindergarten!
Scholarship expert Mark Kantrowitz, says, "Some of these scholarship programs aren't very competitive because parents aren't thinking about scholarships for their children who are under age 13."
These awards run the gamut, from academic achievement to stand-outs for service.
- Kohl's offers a $10,000 dollar scholarship for kids six and up who are involved in community service projects
-The Gloria Barron prize for young heroes offers $2500 to environmental activists ages eight to 18
-Art enthusiasts might find inspiration for Google's Doodle 4 Google . The prize: a whopping $30,000 of college money
-Young writers might pen an essay on ending hunger for the Olive Garden's Pasta Tales prize
- Jiff's most creative sandwich contest awards $25,000 to the best young sandwich chef
-Marble players can win at the National Marbles Tournament.
-You can also find a comprehensive list at finaid.com
The lesson for parents: apply early and often.
Johnson says parents shouldn't be afraid to help build a child's scholarship brand early on.
Johnson says, "If they love nature, then make sure they're doing some recycling program. If they're great at public speaking, you want to start honing those skills."
For local or regional opportunities, you might check with a child's teacher or guidance counselor or on bulletin boards at school.