The rising cost of college is threatening to put higher education out of reach for most Americans. Scholarships are an excellent way to fill the gap. Here are some tips to help.
Start Early. The sooner you start, the more options you’ll have. You’ll need time to research scholarships, request info and application materials, and complete your applications.
Keep Your Options Open. Scholarships can come from lots of different places. Talk to your guidance counselor, check out your local church, go on-line, and inquire with organizations you are familiar with. Also, check your family history; there are lots of different scholarships for children and grandchildren of war veterans and things like that.
Create A List. There are countless scholarships out there. Create a large list of possible choices then sift through to compile a focused list that matches you. Keep in mind that opportunities and applications are constantly coming in, so your research should be ongoing.
Organize Yourself. Keep your scholarship info in a separate file and keep a calendar of deadlines and follow-up appointments. Be sure to have copies of everything that’s usually required in your scholarship aps. These include:
Standardized test scores
Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA
Parent’s financial information, including tax returns
One or more essays
Letters of recommendation (at least two)
List of activities, clubs, community involvement, honors, awards and leadership positions
Other miscellaneous info (e.g. for talent-based scholarships, you may need videos of performances and portfolios)
Be Neat! Make sure your application is presentable. Type your application forms and essays. If this isn’t possible, make sure you print everything neatly. Just be sure everything looks crisp and clean.
Proofread. Use your computer’s spelling and grammar check features. And just to be safe, have a parent, teacher or friend read your essays.
Don’t Leave Anything Blank. If you aren’t sure about how to fill out any part of the application, contact the scholarship sponsors.
Details, Details, Details. Read through the scholarship requirements carefully. You may find that some ask for additional things, like different essays. Also, some essays are only allowed to be a certain number of words and some sponsors don’t want you to staple anything.
Double-Check Your Application. Once you’re done, give it another run through just to be safe. Have a second set of eyes look at your application. And don’t forget to sign and date it!
Get Your Apps In Early. The sooner you get it mailed in, the better. Consider using certified mail or return receipt.
One More Tip. Many universities give out scholarships to upcoming freshman as well, so if you already know what school you want to go to, visit their website and search scholarships. See what comes up and if you qualify for any, APPLY!