25 Tips To Help Your Student Snag A Scholarship

imageWith the free application for federal student aid, a.k.a. FAFSA, now available for the 2015-2016 year, many students and parents hope to qualify for grants and subsidized loans. Unfortunately many will apply too late. Many families rely on multiple sources to pay for the rising costs of college, but for now let’s focus on just one of those sources.

Scholarships come in many forms, from academic and merit, to athletic, ethnic, and religious. There are even scholarships for lefties and video gamers. Not only can scholarships be offered through a college or university but also may be awarded by the state, military or a business. As a mom of two college students, I’m here to tell you that applying for scholarships could be considered a full-time job. By following the suggestions below, parents will better understand this tedious process and students can better navigate the sea of scholarships!

  • It’s never too soon to start researching. Some scholarships are available to high school freshmen and payable upon their entrance to college.
  • Encourage your student to set up an email address through their high school, if offered, or create an account that she/he will be responsible for. It may be a requirement for the application process.
  • Since scholarships are highly competitive, the selection committees are highly selective. Make sure you include everything required by the application. The well-rounded student who has good grades and can stand out through scouts, FFA, DECA, JROTC, sports, or volunteer work may receive multiple scholarship offers.
  • Check your high school website to see if the guidance office posts scholarships online. Many do and may even email you with updates to the list.
  • Register on several free scholarship search engines such as cappex.com, fastweb.com or scholarships.com and let the websites do some of the work for you.
  • Students should prepare an academic resume that includes GPA, achievements, sports, extracurricular activities, work experience, and community service. This resume should then be given to whomever will be writing a recommendation letter.
  • Stress to your son/daughter the importance of seeking teachers/coaches well in advance for letters of recommendation, not the week before they need a letter.
  • Ask several teachers/coaches to write letters of recommendation and then pick the best ones to include with scholarship application. A well written letter goes a long way. Some scholarships may require 1-3 letters while others may not require any.
  • Many require an essay. If needed, seek out help from an English teacher or study examples of past winners online for inspiration.
  • Some colleges and universities include their scholarship application in the college enrollment process while others require you to search and apply separately.
  • Do not shy away from private colleges or universities. Many offer in-house private funding in the form of scholarships that are renewable each year provided student maintains a minimum GPA requirement.
  • Be sure to note, if asked, your ethnic affiliation. Many opportunities exist for African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and other ethnic groups.
  • Keep a calendar posted or set up reminders for scholarship deadlines.
  • Some applications must be filled out and submitted online while others must be sent through the mail. Regardless of the type, be sure to make the deadline and allow plenty of time for mail-in submissions.
  • Research local businesses, clubs, organizations, as well as regional ones and national companies for opportunities.
  • Check out college and university websites for scholarship listings which may include major (accounting, nursing, etc.), cultural or legacy applications.
  • Not all scholarships are need based.
  • Deadlines can start as early as fall and as late as late spring.
  • Athletic scholarships are generally offered to top athletes in the state or region, depending on the popularity of the sport.
  • Most scholarships are partial scholarships and not full rides. And even full ride scholarships may not include room and board, so be sure to read the fine print.
  • For the creative type there are video, essay, photography, and coding contests that award thousands of dollars to teenagers that can be applied toward their college education.
  • Not all scholarships are created equal! Some are one-time deals, others are renewable every year as long as a minimum GPA is met.
  • Students who are serious about scholarships can expect to devote many, many hours to researching, writing essays, uploading documents, and filling out forms.
  • Always fill out the entire form and include all requested material.
  • Get into that “You can’t win if you don’t play” mentality and apply, apply, apply! Good luck!
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/amagill/362201147/”>AMagill</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

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