In my last post, I discussed scholarships and grants for college. Now let’s turn to what we really want to know – how to find scholarships. Scholarships are the goal of most parents and students since they reduce the amount you have to borrow or pay for college. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough scholarship money to go very far, so it primarily goes to lower income families, top tier students, and students that colleges are eager to attract. Nevertheless, there are thousands of kinds of scholarships available for those who are willing to hunt and apply for them. Nearly everyone is eligible for at least a small amount if they search diligently, follow the qualification rules, meet the deadlines, and submit a good essay and other requested items. Fortunately, there are many resources for finding scholarships.
Tools for Finding scholarships
There is no need to pay someone to find scholarships for you. The internet now makes is easy to search for scholarships including the many databases listed here. Use several of them, vary your search terms slightly, avoid promotional offers and spam for giving up others’ contact information, and be prepared to spend time slogging thru many mismatches. Increase your chances of being selected by going to the sponsoring organization’s website to see what they are most interested in and then emphasize your best qualifications that match.
Strategies for Finding Scholarships
Scholarships directly from colleges are the easiest to find because they will be considered when you apply for financial aid from the college, but there are billions of dollars in scholarships available from thousands of other sources. For these you need to hunt and apply for them. Apply for as many as you can since awards are usually small, but can add up. Focus your efforts on where you have the best chance. The big national scholarships may have 100,000+ applicants and award less than 1000. For the best chances, start with ones that are local, listed at the high school, offered by groups you are a member of, or match your student’s interests and talents. Many fewer students apply for scholarships from local organizations, so you have a better chance. In addition to your high school counselor, find them at your local library and by doing an advanced web search, for example “your locality scholarships”.
Where to Find Scholarships
Most states also offer grants, scholarships, work study, loans, or loan forgiveness. Most are based upon need, but some are also awarded based upon merit, family membership in certain groups (minorities, slain police officers, etc), or students who commit to pursue certain careers such as in education or health. Various states have their own rules for granting aid which may differ from the federal rules, so apply for your state’s aid regardless of whether you received any federal aid. Check your state’s website or your high school.
In addition to finding scholarships based upon need, merit, athletics, and even arts, many private scholarships are aimed at students going into certain professions or members in certain groups including minorities, women, handicapped students, religious groups, localities, organizations, and many more. Veterans can research education aid at www.gibill.va.gov, including how to transfer education benefits to spouses and children. In return for future military obligations, students can get financial aid by joining the military “Reserve Officers Training Corp” http://www.military.com/ROTC/1,15281,armyrotc_scholarships,,00.html.
Spending time now will save you money and loans later. Start early, apply to many, be organized, and keep track of deadlines. Polish your essay so you standout for more than just good grades and reuse relevant parts as often as you can.