By the way this question is phrased I would guess that you see being labeled a helicopter parent as a bad thing but there are varying degrees of helicopter parents; from the “Blackhawk” who swoops in, fully armed and does everything to keep the child from any harm to the “traffic ‘copter” who hopes to offer advice from afar and help the student avoid trouble. In addition, there are some areas where parental involvement is absolutely essential (completing the FAFSA, locating immunization records etc.) so parents can never really be out of the picture. Even parents who hover over their eighteen-year-old students slowly let go by the junior year.
So much of the answer to this question depends on the student and his or her ability and willingness to manage issues without the parent’s assistance. You probably know your child better than he knows himself so the best advice I can give is to always ask yourself if the student can accomplish this task for himself. If he can, a basic question, “What scholarships are you applying for this semester?” and then a follow-up a week or so later, “Have you searched on the website under ‘scholarships’?” will hopefully give him enough guidance to get started.
This is not saying that he will accomplish the task, but you have given him the basic information on where to start and that is all you can do without doing it for him. It also doesn’t hurt to express to your student the sacrifices that others are making for his education. “I’ve been putting off having the transmission worked on because I had to pay your bursar bill. Surely you can put in some time and effort to help me out.”