College Scholarships 101

Julie

If you are like most students, you don’t have an extra $20k lying around each year, and you’ll need some help in financing your college education. Your best chance of securing a scholarship (or two, or a few) is before your freshman year of college. There are fewer available scholarships for students who are already in college, or for those transfering.

For high school students looking to apply to college and for various scholarships, an above average academic record, including extra curricular activities, should be very beneficial. Many scholarships are merit based, so it is helpful to maintain a competitive academic record. However, not all scholarships are merit based. There are many scholarships available based on income levels, ethnicities & ancestry, college majors, hobbies, and so on.

So where do you start looking for scholarships to apply for? Very often, your high school guidance counselor is an excellent resource for finding out about local scholarships. Many local organizations send them information about scholarships that they offer, including the applications, and guidelines. Local scholarships are far easier to secure than are national scholarships, simply because there is less competition. Examples of local organizations that offer scholarships include women’s clubs, Kiwanis clubs, etc. Many are one time scholarships, but there are also those that are renewable.

As far as finding national scholarships goes, there are a number of websites to checkout that have comprehensive listings of scholarships available around the country and world. Fastweb.com is one that I have used in the past. You can search for scholarships based on various criteria, and also ask them to send you email alerts when new scholarships that meet your criteria are listed. They even remind you of application deadlines, so you don’t miss that perfect opportunity.

Other than third-party scholarships, there are those scholarships offered by your prospective / current institution? Almost all colleges offer merit based scholarships and award them to some of their top students? Funds for these scholarships often come from donors? In addition to academically merit based scholarships, some schools also have scholarships that are sponsored by various organizations within the school? For example, there are often minority scholarships, faith based scholarships, and scholarships for specific majors? Most often, academic scholarships are awarded automatically to deserving students, and other scholarships typically require you to fill out a specific form to apply.

If you are applying for scholarships, apply for anything and everything that you think you have even a remote possibility of winning? However, if you find yourself short on time, you’ll want to prioritize which ones you apply for in case you can’t get to everything that interests you? First apply for the scholarships offered by the school you wish to attend.? You should be doing that pretty early on? Next, start on the local ones? You have much better odds with the local scholarships than larger-scale scholarships? And then when you’ve completed those, start applying for the national scholarships and any other scholarships that you feel like you don’t have as good of odds of getting.? Prioritizing your scholarship applications ensures that if something happen, you at least have done the scholarships that you have the best chances of getting.

Most schools have some kind of transfer student scholarships, but these are less common and have lts of applicants? Thease are more difficult to get than freshman scholarships? For adults going back to school, there are also numerous scholarships made especially for adult students, working adults, and more.

In applying for scholarships, there are a couple of things to be on the lookout for? First make sure that the deadline has not already passed, otherwise you’ll be wasting your time? Check the requirements? Make sure that you are eligible for it, otherwise, again you’ll be wasting your time? Avoid any and all scholarships that require you to pay a fee to apply for it? You should not have to pay anything other than the postage of sending your application? Those that ask for money are very typically scams.

Most scholarships require some sort of an essay? Keep an extra copy of the essays you write for the various scholarships? Often times you can reuse an essay to apply for another scholarship that requires an essay on the same or similiar scholarship? Saving a copy will allow you to reuse essays, and save time.

Most scholarship winners are announced by the summer preceding the fall term in which you will start at college? They are usually paid directly to the school on your behalf? If you have been unable to get scholarships to fund your education, there is still always grants and student loans.

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