How and When to Look For College Scholarships

Scholarship Types, Availability and Application Requirements

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What Is a Scholarship?

If you need help paying for school, you should begin searching for a scholarship immediately. Scholarships are a great way to pay for college, because unlike student loans, scholarships do not have to be paid back. 

Types of College Scholarships

There are many different types of college scholarships that are available. Some scholarships are based upon merit, while others are based upon financial need.

There are also scholarship programs that give special consideration to minority students.

When to Look for Scholarships

It is almost never too early to begin searching for college scholarships. Middle school is not too early for young students. High school students should definitely be searching for college scholarships during their freshman year and beyond. For adult students, the time to search for scholarships may coincide with the decision to return to school.  

When searching for scholarships, be sure to look at the application requirements. Some scholarships require students to be a certain age or at a certain point in their academic career (such as high school seniors). Once you find an applicable scholarship, don't hesitate to apply for it. Many college scholarship opportunities have application requirements and deadlines that must be met. If you begin apply too late, you may miss out on valuable opportunities.

 

Local Scholarships

Begin your scholarship search locally. Your community may provide the best (and least advertised) opportunity. Local clubs, businesses, organizations, and churches are all potential sources. You may also want to consider letting family, friends, and other members of your community know that you are looking for scholarships.

They can keep you abreast of any opportunities they might come across. 

Finding Scholarships Online

There are many websites devoted to publishing scholarship opportunities. Search the web for scholarship databases to find sites that can help you in your college scholarship search. A few that you might want to try today include:

College Scholarship Requirements

The requirements are different for every scholarship program. Before applying, make sure that you fully understand all of the application procedures and the eligibility criteria. Some scholarship applications require an essay or another demonstration of your potential. Others require a minimum GPA or standardized test score. You should also have an understanding of the value of the scholarship. A $50 scholarship will not be as helpful to you as a $10,000 scholarship

Application Tips

The application for every scholarship is different. However, there are some tips that can be applied to every scholarship application:

  • Apply early
  • Do not falsify your application
  • Follow application procedures
  • Make sure you qualify before applying
  • Increase your chances by applying for scholarships that are not heavily advertised

    Getting Scholarships With the FAFSA

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may be your ticket to getting the financial aid you need. When you fill out this free federal form, you apply for aid from the federal government, state government, and academic institutions (like the colleges you are applying to). Aid may include student loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study. 

    Avoiding Scholarship Scams

    These days, scams are everywhere. It is estimated that families lose millions of dollars each year due to scholarship fraud. To protect your finances, make sure that you are very careful when searching for college scholarships. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.