Any student can apply for scholarships. When it comes to scholarships, the only requirement is that applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for that particular program.
Thousands of organizations offer awards throughout the year. Each of these has its own eligibility criteria. If you take the time to research opportunities, you’re almost certain to find several that you can apply for.
Don’t Fall For This Scholarship Myth
A common myth is that only high school seniors can apply for scholarships. This is just not true. Believing in this myth can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in free money.
You can apply for scholarships and win award money as early as middle school or even before. You can continue applying for scholarships all the way until senior year in college and even as a graduate student. It’s worth mentioning again that the only limitation is the criteria for that particular award.
When organizations establish scholarships, they do so with a specific purpose in mind. Some may establish awards to fund students from certain demographics. Others may want to encourage students to pursue a specific field of study.
Every scholarship sets its own unique eligibility criteria. As long as you meet every criterion listed, you can apply to that program.
Where & How To Start A Search For Scholarships
You know there are lots of scholarships out there that you could qualify for. The big question is where do you look for them? Your first thought is likely to be the internet, and you’d be right about that. You’ll find lots of opportunities with just a simple internet search. There is one caveat however. If you do a broad search for ‘scholarships’, you’ll be overwhelmed by the thousands of results that show up. Just sifting through these can take days.
The only way to keep the results manageable is by narrowing down your search parameters. Look for scholarships by grade level. Do another search by a specific major or field of study, or by a specific sport that applies to you. Also search for scholarships offered by your home state. These are likely to have less competitive too.
Don’t just stop with an internet search. Academic advisors and your school’s financial aid office are two great resources that you should tap into. They often get to know of unadvertised opportunities and can help by shortlisting programs that you qualify for.
Lastly, scour the local newspapers and community notice boards for scholarships offered by local businesses. These are usually easier to win because they are limited to students of that neighborhood only.
FAQs Related To Applying For Scholarships
Here are a few common questions students have about scholarships.
Do I have to be an honor student to apply for scholarships?
Many programs have academic requirements but not all do. Usually, only merit scholarships will want to look at your grades and other academic accomplishments. If you don’t have good grades, don’t look at merit awards. Instead look for awards that are based on your creative abilities, volunteer work, or extracurricular achievements. You can also find scholarships based on demographics or religious affiliations. Don’t get discouraged if your GPA isn’t the highest. There are scholarships available for every student out there. You just need to know how to look for them.
Can I apply for scholarships as a part-time student?
This depends on the program itself. Requirements vary from one scholarship to another. Some may be restricted to full-time students but there are others that part-time students can apply to.
When is the best time to apply for scholarships?
There is no ‘best’ time to apply. These opportunities are available throughout the year and each one will have its own deadline. You can look for and apply to programs right through the year. You can apply to as many as you want through the year as long as you meet the requirements. When you find a scholarship you’d like to apply to, first check the deadline and make a note of it. Make sure you submit your application well before the due date to maximize your chances of winning. Applications received after the deadline are automatically disqualified.
If I win a scholarship will I receive the award money automatically every year?
It depends on the type of scholarship. There are two types of awards that are granted – one-time and renewable. One-time awards are granted only once and only for that particular year. You might be able to re-apply for the same award every year but it will be assessed as a new application. Some renewable awards are disbursed automatically for every year that you’re in college. Others may require you to submit transcripts and progress reports every year. This is to ensure that you are meeting the minimum qualifications set by the funding committee.
Can I apply for the same scholarship every year?
It depends on the scholarship. Some will automatically renew, others will only allow you to win once, others may be open to multiple entries. Pay attention to the stipulations f
How will I receive the money that I win?
Some organizations will send you a check. Others may send the money directly to your school to be applied to tuition and other fees. Any funds still left over will be sent to you by check or transferred to your bank.
Is the award money really worth the effort that I put into it?
Absolutely! There’s no question about it. Sure, it takes time to look for opportunities and even more time to put together a strong application. But on the other hand, it’s free money. Whatever you win is yours to keep. It’s not like a loan that you need to return with interest. Getting interest-free money towards college makes award money well worth any amount of time and effort that you put into it. The more money you win through scholarships, the less money you’ll need to borrow by way of student loans. Winning scholarship money makes it possible to graduate with lower debt.
Who Can Apply for Scholarships
There are scholarships out there for every type of student, so there’s definitely a scholarship for you. Get to searching!