For some, this has been done since spring, but there’s still time for some scholarship applications!
Are you loving college, but feel like you spend too much time stressed out about paying for it? Well, you may be able to let off some pressure with a focused scholarship search. There are millions of scholarship dollars out there. The trick is just taking the time to find them and apply—it’s definitely an investment worth making.
The Money Tree
If money really did grow on trees, the scholarship tree would be one with a whole lot of branches. Think of it this way: The more branches you shake, the better chance of finding some choice apples. Scholarships—awards of money that do not have to be repaid—can come from a wide range of sources, both locally and nationally, and eligibility can be based on wide range of criteria. You may qualify for an award based on:
• academic merit
• athletic ability
• leadership or service experience
• intended field of study
• intended career
• minority status
• national or ethnic background
• state of residence
• employer of a parent of family member
• religious affiliation
Think about the things that make you stand out—they may just qualify you for a scholarship.
Where Does the Money Come From?
From public institutions to private companies to individual donors, scholarship money can come from just about anywhere, and all sources are worth investigating. Consider:
• Colleges – Consult with the financial aid offices at the schools to which you are applying to find out what’s available.
• Federal, state, local governments – For federal money, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-4-FED-AID or online. For links to your state aid agency, click here.
• Private companies – Look particularly at your parents’ workplaces, which may offer special scholarship programs
• Unions and professional organizations
• Lodges and clubs
Top Strategies for Raking in the Dough
So you’re getting an idea of what the scholarship money tree looks like. Now how do you find them? Keep the following strategies in mind, and make use of as many of the online and print resources listed on this page as necessary.
• Start today. Scholarship applications are sometimes due as much as a year before the academic term, so starting early is critical.
• Visit the counselor’s office. You should find plenty of resources there, such as scholarship books and helpful staff members who can point you in the right direction.
• Stay organized and read applications carefully. Track your deadlines, scholarship deadlines and contact information, and keep it all in one place (consider a handwritten table or a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel). Make sure you closely review the application requirements—the fastest way to disqualify yourself is forgetting part of the application.
• Try everything. Utilize more than one of the resources on this page, and consider all the possible sources of money listed above. The more feelers you put out, the better chance of finding success.
• Never pay for scholarship searches. Services that require a fee are less likely to be legitimate. You should be able to find all the scholarship information you need through free services.
For further background information or to learn more about scholarship scams, visit these helpful sites, as well as the online and print resources on this page:
• Federal Student Aid
• Federal Trade Commission
• National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)