Scholarships (or "free money") are an attractive way to pay for college because you don't need to pay them back. Scholarship awards range from a few dollars to covering the full tuition bill.
Scholarships are offered by many organizations, including federal and state governments and private sources, such as:
- Individuals Companies
- High schools and colleges
- Religious groups
- Professional associations
- Academic performance
- Athletic achievement
- Financial need
- Religious affiliation
- Minority status Heritage
- Community affiliations
- A unique set of criteria that's important to the organization providing funds
Searching for and getting scholarships
Your search for scholarships will succeed if you start early, stay focused, and search diligently. Remember to apply for scholarships every year you plan to attend college.
Different scholarships have different requirements and use different criteria to select scholarship recipients
Consider the following as you start your scholarship investigation:
- You may be required to write an essay, pass a written exam, or complete a project demonstrating your potential.
- Programs may specify how scholarship funds must be used, set time restrictions for disbursing the funds, or set a ceiling on qualifying family income.
- Scholarship funds may be paid directly to the college.
- Failure to meet certain requirements could jeopardize your ability to keep the scholarship.
Many scholarship applications require you write at least one essay. These essays are usually shorter and take less time to write than college admissions essays.
The personal essay is critical to winning a scholarship because it lets the selection committee get to know you beyond your grades, test scores, and activities listed on the application. It is also your best opportunity to make a strong and lasting impression.
Agood scholarship essay...
Scholarship essays captivate readers and encourage them to care about you. Writing a good essay is not always easy. It takes time to put words on paper and finesse each sentence to convey the correct meaning. While there is no right or wrong way to write a great essay, a good scholarship essay....
- ...is original
- ...states clearly why you deserve to win.
- ...has a main point.
- ...avoids meaningless information.
- ...is more than just a sob story.
- ...is honest.
There is no magic formula for applying for and receiving a scholarship. But these tips can start you on the right foot:
Be organized. Stay on top of deadlines, gather all pertinent documents, and make copies of everything you submit. It is a good idea to send your applications by certified mail to ensure receipt.
Be honest. Don't exaggerate your grades, memberships, skills or qualifications. It is better to focus on scholarships for which you might be eligible.
Follow instructions carefully. Some scholarships require you to write an essay; others may want letters of recommendation. Send in what is requested and proofread everything. Typos and missing materials can cost you a scholarship.
Proofread your application. Review everything. Typos are a sure way not to be considered for a scholarship. Consider asking a parent, teacher, or school counselor to read your application.
Keep copies of everything you send. If you application is misplaced, having copies will make it easier to resend you information quickly.
Send your application packet by registered mail. Many sources offering scholarships will not confirm receipt of your application. Consider sending your application via registered mail so you know your materials arrived safely.
All information taken from Sallie Mae, Inc.