Scholarship Basics What You Should Know About Free Money For College
To some students and parents, the word “scholarship” is just another one of those confusing college terms: student loans, tuition and fees, EFC, grants, and work study. Little do they realise that knowing more about the scholarship process could save them thousands of dollars when trying to cover the cost of their education.
What are scholarships?
Scholarships come in a variety of forms, but are generally considered to be “free money” for college. Unlike loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid to the scholarship provider. Some scholarships are awarded directly to the student in the form of a check, while other scholarships are written out to the student’s college or university. Several different types of providers issue scholarships: clubs and organisations, charitable foundations, businesses, schools, universities, government agencies, and others.
Who can get scholarships?
It is a common misconception that scholarships are only for “straight-A” students. In reality, there are all types of scholarships for all types of students, including those with less than perfect academic records. Some scholarships are for athletes; others are for students planning to study in particular fields; and others for community service. Some scholarship providers just want to reward students for living in a certain city or state! Students also mistakenly believe that only college-bound high school seniors can apply for awards. Scholarships are available for all levels of college study, from freshman undergrads to graduate and Ph. D students. There are also scholarships available for non-traditional and returning adult students.
How do students find scholarships?
Finding scholarships can be a very time-consuming process, but not if students use a reputable and accurate scholarship search service on the Internet, like Skolarship.com. Students can also ask their high school guidance counsellors about any local or state awards that they qualify for. Students should contact the financial aid office at the college or university they plan to attend to learn if they qualify for any awards provided by the school.
When should students look for scholarships?
Each scholarship application has its own deadline. There are thousands of scholarship programs with spring and summer deadlines, and thousands more with fall and winter deadlines. The key is to never stop searching for new scholarship leads, even after beginning the freshman year in college. A good rule of thumb is to continue searching for scholarships for the duration of the college career.
Myths About College Scholarships
We know they’re out there. We know you’ve heard them. Though these commonly discussed scholarship myths might sound convincing, we are here to tell you that anyone can find scholarships, not just a select group of people.
You have to be financially needy to get scholarships -False! While there are many scholarships that consider students’ financial need, there are also many that don’t ask for applicants to submit any financial information.The Point: Apply for scholarships that don’t require financial need if you think you or your parents make too much money.
Only smart people can get scholarships – Buzz! Wrong.You don’t have to be a genius to get a scholarship. Some scholarships do require applicants to have a certain GPA or SAT score, but many won’t ask applicants for any academic information. The Point: There are thousands of scholarships available that don’t consider your academic standing, so find them and apply!
Scholarships are only for high school seniors – Classic incorrect answer!You can apply for scholarships throughout your academic career. There are scholarships available for high school students, current college students, graduate students, vocational students, and even doctoral candidates. The Point: As long as you are attending some type of post secondary education, you can find and apply for scholarships.
I’m too old (or young) to get a scholarship – Untrue.There are many scholarships available specifically for older or returning students. Also, many scholarships are available that children and teenagers can apply for, and if they win, the money will be held until they enrol in college. The Point: Don’t count yourself out for scholarships because you think your age makes you ineligible.
Looking for scholarships is too time-consuming – Not with Skolarship.com!We make the scholarship search process easy for you by providing you with a time-saving list of scholarships that match your hobbies, interests and academic background. The Point: Start searching for scholarships now with Skolarship.com!
What to Look For in a Scholarship Search Engine
Okay, so you are ready to tackle that daunting task of finding scholarships to pay for college. And you want to use the Internet to expedite the search process. But there are so many scholarship search services out there – which ones should you use? How do you know what qualities and features to look for in a scholarship search service? And how do you avoid getting scammed while looking for awards? Use the following guide to determine what to look for and to assist you in finding the service that will best fit your scholarship search needs.
Profile Matches Are Key:First and foremost, find a scholarship search service that has sophisticated matching technology. A good scholarship search service will match the personal information you provide to them with scholarships that you are eligible to apply for. This will minimise the time you spend browsing through lists of awards, and will give you more time to actually work on the application process itself. Beware of simple keyword search services or services that only ask a few questions about your background. Many such services will return hundreds of scholarships for you to wade through, wasting valuable time that you simply don’t have. Look for services with easy-to-use, thorough profile pages that generate results closely matched to your profile.
Up-to-Date Scholarship Information:Secondly, find a scholarship search service that provides accurate and up-to-date scholarship information. Reading requirements for scholarship programs from two years ago will not help you at all; in fact, using outdated information will simply slow your progress in actually securing scholarship funding for college. Remember, you need to find a service that offers scholarship information for the current academic year. Don’t waste your time on websites with out-dated contact lists, broken application links, and discontinued programs.
Focus on Finding Scholarships:Remember, the primary purpose of any scholarship search service should be to help you find scholarships. Avoid overly commercial websites that seem to focus instead on advertising and student offers, giveaways and subscriptions. Also, avoid sites that inundate you with annoying pop-up ads and unwanted email solicitations. You should not have to deal with numerous interruptions while you are using the scholarship search tool.
An Easy Process:Make sure the service is set up to save you time. If you take the time to fill out the profile, make sure the information is saved so you don’t have to start from scratch each time you want to look for more scholarships. Also, make sure there is a way to edit and update your profile, in case you change your major or improve your test scores or change your mind about the college or university you want to attend. Search services with such
\\r\\n customer-oriented features will save you time and frustration in the search process, and that’s what you should be aiming for…saving time, avoiding scams, and finding money to pay for college!
How to Avoid Scholarship Scams
Many high school and college students are highly motivated to search for scholarships, which is a good thing. Scholarship scams, however, are not. So before you dive into the scholarship search process, be sure you are aware of scholarship scams and how to avoid them.
When you think about scholarship scams, two types should come to mind. The first is scholarship programs that are fraudulent, meaning there are no scholarship awards being given out and students don’t actually receive any funds. The second is less-than-reputable scholarship search services that take advantage of students while they are searching for scholarships. With both types of scams, there are certain warning signs that you should be aware of that indicate that the scholarship program or search service may not be what it appears to be.
To avoid applying for scholarship programs that are scams, there are some red flags you should be looking for:
Application fees– While there are a few legitimate scholarship programs that do require students to submit a small processing or application fee, most require no payment to apply. If you learn of a scholarship with a fee and you are concerned, contact the scholarship “provider” (i.e., the organisation, company, or individual that is offering the scholarship) to find out exactly why there is a fee to apply and what happens with the “fees”
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Hard-to-reach scholarship provider– How easy is it to contact the scholarship provider? If you call and the phone is disconnected, or if you email and your email is bounced back, there is a good chance that no one is handling scholarship requests. A legitimate scholarship provider will give applicants access to a valid email address or phone number.
No recent winners– If you cannot find anything about prior winners, contact the scholarship provider to try to find some proof that previous scholarships were awarded. If it’s a new scholarship program, be sure to find out the specifics of how and when the recipients will be chosen; well-managed scholarship programs should provide answers to your questions about the award winners and selection process.
Website Woes– Another possible warning sign of a questionable scholarship program is the quality (or lack thereof) of the scholarship provider’s website. Does the website work? Is the scholarship information updated? Not all scholarship providers have enough time on their hands to make sure the website is in pristine condition, but websites should (at a minimum) list the current details about the scholarship.
Search Services of Which to Steer Clear
There are many scholarship search services out there to help students find scholarships; unfortunately, some may be more harmful to students than you know. Watch out for the services that claim to have or offer things that are just not possible:
“Secret” Scholarships– Services that promise to find scholarships for you that you can’t find anywhere else are usually not legitimate. Scholarship search services have access to the same information students have access to, so don’t let them fool you into thinking they have the inside track.
Guaranteed Scholarships– If any service insists that it can guarantee you a scholarship, run the other way. Yes, there are lots of scholarship dollars available, but the truth is that no one can secure a scholarship for you but you. Only the student can complete the application process.
Also, be aware of the quality of the service you are using. Protect yourself by avoiding scholarship search services that:\\r\\n
Inundate you with pop-ups – Don’t use a scholarship search service if you spend more time closing pop-up windows than you do actually looking at your scholarship information.
Are overly “commercial” – If you are on the website to find scholarship information, you should be able to navigate through the website and access that information without being distracted or pulled away from that core purpose.
Although there are many questionable scholarship programs and scholarship search services out there, there are also trustworthy and reputable ones as well. These services can be invaluable in aiding students in scholarship searching and paying for college. A legitimate scholarship search service should save students time by providing them with customised lists of scholarships that are accurate and continually updated by a team of research specialists.
How to Find Scholarships Right for You
When trying to find a scholarship, it is important to think about the answer to this question: “What makes you unique?” We all have traits that make us who we are. Many scholarship providers are looking for students who have interests in different programs, subjects, or hobbies. Not all scholarships are based on scholastic achievement. Perhaps you are good at sports, or can paint, sing or write. Whatever your interest is, use it to your benefit.
In today’s world, if you are willing to spend some time looking for scholarships that match your unique background and qualities, it is likely that you will find programs matched to your personal information. The only problem is that you may need some help in researching these awards and finding scholarships that you can then actually apply for.
You can always turn to those who know you best to help you when thinking of ways to find scholarships. Ask your teachers at school, your guidance counsellors, and your financial aid advisers for their advice in finding scholarships. Find out if they know of any programs that would benefit you based on your unique background and abilities. Ask them if there are any professional, religious, or community organisations out there that would be aligned with your interests and areas of study, and then contact those organisations to find out about any scholarships or grants that they might offer to student members.
And although there are several books available at bookstores or libraries that contain huge lists of scholarships, it would take you a long time to go through these lists to determine which scholarships you are eligible to apply for. Many students, parents and educators have turned to the Internet to help them with the scholarship search process. Internet scholarship search services, like Skolarship.com, usually ask users to fill out a profile, and then they match users with scholarships that match their skills and interests. Be sure to use an Internet scholarship search service that has a large database of updated scholarships and one that can accurately match you to scholarships that fit your unique talents and abilities. Chances are good that there are scholarship providers out there searching for someone with your unique traits. Use your unique abilities to help finance your education.
How to Win Scholarships
Searching for and finding scholarships is only the first half of the process. You still need to apply for each scholarship you are trying to win. Applying for scholarships can be time consuming and takes dedication and motivation. But the thousands of dollars you could receive makes the effort worthwhile. Below are some hints to help you apply for and win scholarships.
Be proactive.No one is going to track you down to give you a scholarship; you need to do the legwork yourself. So when you find awards with eligibility criteria that you can meet, contact the provider and request a scholarship application packet. Whether you have to request the application via email, phone or by sending in a self-addressed stamped envelope, do it. There’s just no other way to get the ball rolling than to be proactive and assertive in requesting information for yourself.
Be timely.Almost all scholarship providers set deadlines, and you MUST adhere to them. Make sure you have all materials submitted before the deadline. If the scholarship deadline is approaching and you have not yet even received the scholarship application packet that you requested four weeks earlier, follow-up with the provider and request the scholarship application packet again. You do not want to miss a deadline, as most scholarship providers do not consider late applicants.
Be organised.Good organisational skills can really pay off – literally! Keep your scholarship applications ordered by deadline date and give yourself plenty of time to complete them and send them in well before the due date. Keep letters of recommendation and transcripts on hand so you don’t have to obtain new ones every time they are required for an application. Make copies of your completed scholarship applications before sending them in, and file them in folders labelled with the deadline date and the mailing address and phone number of the scholarship provider. Call before the deadline to see if your scholarship application was received. If it got lost in the mail (the postal service is not perfect!), you still have an extra copy you can send in.
Be persistent.The scholarship search process doesn’t just happen overnight. You must be diligent about looking for new scholarships to apply for. Plan to spend several hours each month reviewing the scholarship programs with
deadlines approaching, preparing application packets, and getting the applications in the mail on time. And then the cycle should begin again – finding scholarships, sending away for application information, and applying in an organised, timely manner.
Be positive.Finally, believe in yourself and in your chances of winning a scholarship. Hard work and time spent on the scholarship process will pay off eventually. Keep your chin up and think about how great the reward will be if you can land even one of the scholarships you’re trying for! After all, your education depends on it!
What are Unusual Scholarships?
Did you know that not all scholarships are given out on the basis of your grade point average or financial need? You can earn a scholarship based on which hand you write with, a job you’ve held, being a twin, or going to prom in a really strange outfit. In the world of “unusual” or “weird” scholarships, anything goes. Although some of the criteria to win one of these scholarships can seem pretty “out there,” unusual scholarships can be grouped into some basic categories based on the stipulations that the scholarship provider makes.
Awarded based on physical characteristics– If you attend Juniata College in Pennsylvania, you can receive a scholarship based solely on the hand you write with…as long as it’s your left hand! Students who are twins or triplets may be eligible for scholarships from various colleges, such as Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma or Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.
Awarded based on jobs, hobbies, or interests– The Evans Scholars Foundation gives out about 200 scholarships each year to students who have worked as golf caddies for at least two years. Students with an interest in the study of the paranormal may be eligible for a scholarship from the Parapsychology Foundation. If you refuse to eat meat and try to convince your friends to do the same, you could win a scholarship from the Vegetarian Resource Group.
Awarded based on a specific set of criteria– Some scholarship sponsors establish very specific criteria designed to find a certain type of student to win an award. For example, a female student planning to attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who will live on campus, has no car, has never been married, and has financial need can receive a scholarship in the amount of her financial need.
There are also unusual scholarships that are so weird that they don’t fit into any of these categories. If you possess the ability to call ducks, for example, you can compete in the annual duck calling contest in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and possibly win a scholarship. Students who are willing to go to prom dressed in an outfit made of duct tape (and have the ability to convince their date to do the same) could win a scholarship and win their school some money, too. Are you a fan of the undead? Believe it or not, students who can flesh out a plan to survive a Zombie Apocalypse can win free money for college. Do you love ice cream? If you can write about the ice cream flavor that best describes your personality, there is a scholarship for you! The point is, don’t give up on a scholarship just because you don’t have the highest GPA or a lot of financial need – there are plenty of scholarships out there for a student just like you!