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Tips for Finding College Scholarships
Scholarships - a financial aid tool, most sought after by parents and students. There are basically two types of scholarships...
- College specific scholarships are awarded by the college you are applying to and will be awarded based on academics, SAT/ACT scores, talents, etc. To find out what scholarships colleges have available, call the financial aid office of your school of choice or go to their website and click on "financial aid" or "scholarships."
- Outside sources are given to students for a wide variety of qualifications. Each outside scholarship has its own deadlines, its own qualifications and its own award amount—these must be researched.
Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes. Knowing and searching the types of scholarships that are out there will ensure that you find any and every scholarship for which you qualify.
Scholarship Search Tips
- Explore your options:
- Try online: When searching online, we recommend that you be as specific as possible. Simply typing in "scholarships" will yield thousands upon thousands of hits. Use qualifiers such as the names of schools and programs of study to help narrow the field. A word of caution: You should never pay money to investigate scholarships. Scholarship providers don't offer their awards to students who pay to find them; they offer them to all students.
- Check your prospective schools: Go to their website or call the financial aid office. If you meet the qualifications, find out how to apply. Don't assume that by applying for admission, you're applying for scholarships. It's often a separate process. Be aware that scholarship deadlines can be different from those set for the college admission application. In fact, some schools ask you to submit an application for scholarships prior to your application for admissions. Raising your GPA and test scores in high school will help increase your chances of earning merit aid.
- Dig into your network: Do you belong to a church group or a local chapter of some national club? Are either of your parents a member of a union or civic groups? Does either of them work for a large corporation? Many of these types of organizations offer scholarships to members and their children. Check out the PTA, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, churches, foundations and others in your town, which often offer scholarships based on a variety of factors. There’s often less competition for these, since they have to be awarded locally.
- Start Early & Don't Miss Deadlines: To avoid missing deadlines, start your scholarship search early. It takes time to research, request information, and complete your applications, so don't procrastinate. In addition, make sure to search continuously throughout the school year. Many have early fall deadlines.
- Deadlines vary by scholarship. Some are the summer before your senior year, others in the fall or as late as spring. To stay organized and keep track of due dates, we recommend keeping a calendar, and making your earliest deadline the deadline for all of your applications. Finally (and this cannot be stressed enough), do not miss your deadlines. You'll have no recourse if your application arrives late, and you will have zero chance of receiving that award.
- Be Active: Scholarship committees look favorably on those who participate in extracurricular activities and are active in their communities.
- Stay Organized: Students should keep a checklist of submission requirements and due dates. Be sure to complete all of the necessary paper before submitting an application.
- Follow the Instructions: Watch your essay length and submit only materials that are requested. Proofread your applications to avoid any embarrassing spelling or grammar errors, and be sure your writing is legible.
- Dont't ignore scholarships just because they have smaller award amounts, it all adds up!
- Search every year. Many scholarships are available to grades other than seniors.
**In addition to the links below, students can log into their Naviance account https://succeed.naviance.com, and search for scholarships under the "Colleges" tab. This page is a work in progress but still has some valuable information.
Lastly, be aware of scholarship scams. This website does a great job discussing what to look out for: http://www.educationplanner.org/students/paying-for-school/ways-to-pay/scholarship-scams.shtml