A prominent worry that faces students and parents when considering higher education is, “How will I pay for it?” The most appealing option is certainly scholarships or grants. This is money given to you to pay for college that you don’t have to pay back! How nice is that? The trickier question is how do I actually receive these scholarships? Where do I begin? We have created a helpful guide for you to begin your college scholarship search–from freshman in high school to senior in college.
Where to begin?
Your High School
Some high schools host award ceremonies as part of their graduation ceremonial events. The number of scholarships vary depending on the school, but some often give out generous awards of a couple thousand dollars. The donors for these scholarships are typically local organizations or memorial funds that the community has contributed toward. Each scholarship will have varying application qualifications. The best way to be aware of these scholarships and determine the process for consideration is to speak with your high school guidance counselor. They will be your best guide to learning about local scholarships and beyond.
The next most important place to search for scholarships is colleges. They will often have a page dedicated to scholarships. It’s important to note that they are many different types and avenues colleges distribute scholarships. Sometimes an application and acceptance to the school is all that is needed to be considered for a scholarship (i.e. you don’t have to fill out a separate application form, you are automatically considered and awarded.) These will show up on your award letter.
If you already know the major you’re going to choose, you should also look at the specific college you will be attending at your university. For example, if you know you want to study Finance, browse school’s College of Business page and determine if they give out specific scholarships for business or finance students. If they do, find out what the process is for applying, are you automatically considered as explained before, or is there a separate application process? When you are in the later steps of the college search, like a college visit, ask to speak with a financial aid advisor so you can ask any questions you have and be instructed on all the opportunities by a knowledgeable resource.
Are you a Boy Scout? Member of Daughters of the American Revolution? Involved in your church? There may be scholarships available to you! Those are just a few examples of organizations you may be involved in that could lead to money for college. If you are a member of a society, club, or any organization, ask if there are scholarships available to their members to help pay for school. These may be limited to just helping you during your first year of college or could be renewable. Also be sure to check in if you don’t receive it the first time, if you are eligible to reapply as a sophomore or junior in college. Additionally, once you become involved in organizations in college, be sure to check in with an officer of the organizations to see if scholarships are available to its members. Honor societies are particularly known for awarding scholarships to its members.
This option will lead you to hundreds of thousands of scholarships options. It can be overwhelming, but extremely rewarding. While it’s tempting to get lost in the mix of searching and searching and give up, don’t! Use filters to narrow your search to ones that you believe you have a good chance at receiving or awards that interest you. We also recommend crafting a well written essay that you can have ready when applying to scholarships. Many want to simply get to know you, your motivation for attending college, and dreams. Try to cover these topics in your essay so you can save time start from scratch for every new scholarship. Of course there might be more specific topics, but having a general basis will have you out tremendously in the long term. Create a folder on your computer where you will store these so they are always handy when you need them. Check out our page and this post to read about the best scholarship search sites that offer a large selection of scholarships
Financial Aid isn’t all loans. In fact, a lot financial aid comes in the form of scholarships and grants. And that means you don’t have to pay it back. Score! To increase your likelihood of receiving financial aid, you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. It used to be January 1st, but new changes beginning for the 2017-2018 school year allow you to apply as soon as October 1st using your prior prior year tax information (check back soon for a breakdown on what this means for you and your family!) We have organized a guide for you on how to file and complete your FASFA so you can receive scholarships and grants to fund your education!
Now do you have some clarity? Finding money for college can be a process, but it will have great rewards! Be sure to use all these resources to find the most money possible to fund your education!