The costs of a college education continue to increase at a substantial rate. Each year students seeking higher education are typically faced with tuition increases that outpace inflation. While student loans and grants may provide relief for defraying these costs, scholarships can also be useful tools that can help many students afford a college education. When compared with student loans that must be repaid, scholarships offer a notable advantage. This is because a scholarship is money for college that does not have to be repaid. Grants also do not have to be repaid. However, unlike grants that are provided based on the student’s financial need, scholarships are typically awarded based on a specific skill or talent of the student.
Generally speaking, scholarships are provided through companies, community and church organizations and institutions of higher education. Scholarships that are sponsored by colleges and universities are typically provided on the basis of the student’s profile, e.g., a high grade point average (GPA), talent in a particular sport, musical talent, or enrolling in a specific major. Students that receive these types of scholarships on an annual basis will be required to maintain their student profile. Thus, a student that receives a scholarship because of a high GPA may be required to retain this GPA in order to receive the scholarship each year. Similar types of scholarships are provided by companies and many students may qualify for scholarships offered by companies for which their parents or guardians work. Scholarships provided by community and church organizations may be awarded based on the student’s involvement with the organization or based on the student’s overall level of community service.
Although many scholarships are provided based on the student’s unique profile including academic or athletic talents, in many instances scholarships are provided to students that are willing to seek out opportunities to acquire these resources. Millions of dollars in scholarship monies are not accessed each year. This is often because students are not aware of scholarship opportunities available to them. Students that are willing to seek out scholarship opportunities may be able to locate scholarship in their community or region of which other students are not aware. By being persistent and locating these scholarships, students may be able to access valuable resources for college even if they do not demonstrate exceptional skills. When it comes to acquiring scholarships, the willingness to seek opportunities and the ability to be persistent can provide a wealth of opportunities for securing scholarship money.
Because there are so many different types of scholarships available, students need to develop a plan of action to secure scholarship money. In order to find out about scholarships, students should attempt to access as much information as possible. First, when applying to a college or university, the student should ask their admission’s counselor about scholarships offered by the institution. Often scholarships for colleges and universities have separate application forms and deadlines. Students must be sure to keep track of these dates to ensure that scholarship application forms are submitted in a timely manner. Second, students should contact their employers and their parents/guardian’s employers. In order to determine if a company offers a scholarship program, students should seek out the organization’s human resource department.
Third, students need to hit the books if they are interested in learning more about available scholarships. Numerous books on finding scholarships have been published. College and community libraries typically have these books on their shelves. Finally, students seeking scholarship money can utilize the internet. Keyword searchers for scholarships can help students locate a number of different scholarship resources on the internet. Students using the internet to find scholarships should be cautious however. Internet fraud is on the rise and a number of scholarship programs claiming to be legitimate may actually be scams. One important red flag are scholarships that require you to pay an upfront application fee. Scholarships are intended to provide you with money for college. In short, they should not cost you money. Any scholarship application that requires a fee should be considered a scam.
Once you have located scholarships that may be useful in defraying the costs of your education, each scholarship needs to be reviewed to ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements. Most scholarships will require an application that must be filed by a deadline. Some scholarship applications will require the completion of an essay. Other scholarship applications may require official records to certify your eligibility (e.g., transcripts or SAT scores). When making several different applications for scholarships, efforts will be needed to make sure that the right information is supplied with each application. Keeping track of the requirements for each scholarship will be imperative to ensuring that applications are not rejected because of a technical problem (e.g., submitted past the due date, does not include transcripts or SAT scores, etc.).