8 Secrets to Finding and Securing College Scholarships
In the current economy, you need all the financial help you can get while you’re attending college. The good news is that many students are eligible for scholarships –money they don’t need to pay back. Finding scholarships that you qualify for and then applying for them in the correct manner can be surprisingly tricky, however, here are some tips to point you in the right direction:
- Start early: Be prepared to begin looking for scholarships at least a year before entering college. This will maximize your chances of getting as much money as possible.
- Do the legwork: You’ll need to put a lot of work into locating and reviewing suitable scholarships and then contacting the relevant institutions to request application packs, filling them out and submitting them on time. This can all take a large chunk of your time, but the payoff will be well worth it!
- Be organized: You’ll have a lot of paperwork to keep track of, so make sure all your documents are in order. Keep separate files for each of your applications with lists of all the required documents so you don’t overlook sending in something vital. Also make copies of all transcripts, letters of recommendation and application forms you submit.
- Complete the FAFSA form: Even though the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form isn’t legally required to obtain a scholarship, many schools that provide direct scholarships still want you to fill it out.
- Enter competitions: You have to “win” some scholarships by participating in a contest. For example, you might have to write an essay or paper, design and execute an artwork, or submit an invention or proposed solution to a particular environmental, social or scientific problem.
- Use an online scholarship search service: There are several free college scholarship search facilities available on the web that will save you lots of time and hassle.
- Look under every stone: Scholarships are commonly available from the colleges themselves, as well as from local and state government offices; national organizations and corporations such as ROTC, National Merit, Coca-Cola, Intel Science and Gates Millennium; and from numerous private foundations.
- Think outside the box: Scholarships can be found in some quite unexpected places – your church, fraternal organization or union, for example. Your parents’ employers, or even your own part-time workplace, could have programs you can apply for. You might be pleasantly surprised!
College Scholarships: “If you want to get a college scholarship, you do have to put in work. They will not just come to you out of the blue!”
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