5 Tips for Students Looking for College Scholarships
Start your scholarship search early, since some of the major awards begin their application process during your junior year. Stay organized as you gather information, and create a spreadsheet to help you meet deadlines and get essays and applications in on time.
Talk to Your Financial Aid Office
Any college you plan to attend should have a financial aid office dedicated to helping students put together a financial package that makes attendance possible. The university itself probably offers all sorts of scholarships, sometimes tied to specific majors or activities. Ask for help from the financial aid office as soon as you've identified the school as one you'd like to attend. Some financial aid offices are even willing to help during the application process. The college website should also provide you with a great deal of information about available scholarships and how to apply for them.
Look at National Scholarship Opportunities
Major foundations and granting organizations offer scholarships each year. Among the best known of these are National Merit Scholarships, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and the Gates Millennium Scholars. While the competition for national scholarships is typically intense, the amounts given out are usually substantial.
Ask Your Parent's Employer
Many large corporations offer scholarships to the children of employees as a benefit to those employees. Ask your parents to investigate the possibilities, especially if their employer has a history of giving scholarships.
Look Through Your High School's Resources
Your high school counselor should have a great deal of information available about scholarships that students from your school have applied for in the past. Many high school libraries make files and books about college scholarships available as well. Review these resources, and make a list of every scholarship you think you might qualify for. You may be surprised at the smaller scholarships you can combine to make college affordable. Your school's alumni organization may also offer college scholarships.
Check Out Community or Religious Scholarships
Some local businesses or chambers of commerce sponsor scholarships for local high school grads; community libraries frequently keep information on these opportunities all in one place. Various religious organizations also provide scholarships, and they don't always have to be tied to attendance at a religious school. If your parents belong to local or national fraternal or charitable organizations, look into the scholarships they offer.
Scholarships are a wonderful solution for college students who need some financial help to attend college. Because they're not loans, they don't have to be repaid and are essentially a gift to help you get through college. Thousands of scholarships are offered every year in all sorts of categories, and many of them are never awarded. While any family who needs some form of financial aid for college should start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, if you expand your search a little, there are far more scholarships available than the ones the FAFSA can connect you to.