Scholarship Help

Hello. We think we know you. You are a good student, maybe even a great or fabulous student. You are looking forward to going to college. Or, more likely, you are in your senior year and getting organized for the full-court press of getting into the college of your choice and getting the scholarship you need to be sure you and your family can afford this next step of your education.

It's pretty exciting and more than a little nerve-racking. You're already dealing with the pressures of your high school career, and they are significant, we know. The process of getting ready, getting into, and paying for college is a very big, extra project in your already crowded life.

You may be reading this Web site because you've already concluded that you will apply for a scholarship. Or the question of whether to apply for scholarships may not have an obvious answer for you yet. Either way, it's sensible to read our Web site and get the facts about college scholarships as well as the best advice we can offer about how to succeed in winning scholarships.

We will spend time on this Web site explaining how college funding works, the types of college scholarships available, how to find a scholarship, and how to apply for one. That's pretty standard issue for a Web site about scholarships, although we think (if you'll pardon us saying so) that we've done an excellent job of being comprehensive and readable. Here's what's different.

How To Win Scholarships

We know that the path to success in earning scholarships has approximately three parts. (This process is hardly so simplistic that anyone should presume to do more than approximate the components.)

  • You must to be able to organize and prioritize

You must be able to write about a variety of topics, that may or may not be exciting to you, in a fluid and thoughtful way, demonstrating that you are a scholar or would like to be a scholar.

  • You must be able to write about a variety of topics that may or may not be exciting to you in a fluid and thoughtful way, demonstrating that you are a scholar or would like to be a scholar.

This may be the most difficult part about becoming a successful scholarship winner. However, we know that with some help, you can do it.

  • You must understand yourself well enough to create a compelling portrait of who you are. You must understand your audience well enough to be able to position your skills and strengths as deserving of their support.

Knowing yourself takes more work than writing down a list of extracurricular activities. We will help you learn how to find the "method behind the madness" of your life and present it in a winning way. Why? Because scholarship committees award funding to candidates they can understand and relate to and who distinguish themselves from other candidates by their ability to communicate their special-ness.

Should you apply for scholarships? We think so. Why? Beyond the obvious fact that every extra dollar can help you and your family, the scholarship process is also a way to develop the winning skills that will serve you well in whatever you do in your life. The ability to organize, prioritize, write well, match message to audience and most of all, know yourself, are gifts you should give yourself as soon as possible. Use this website and the scholarship process to get yourself ready for the rest of your life.

By the way, if you happen to be a parent reading this website, please encourage your son or daughter to look for scholarships, following our approach. Just think how much smoother their path will be if they hone these skills now, before they leave your nest. If you're reading this website we know we don't really need to say this but we'll do it anyway. They'll need your help and support.

College scholarships are the ideal form of student aid, as they're basically gifts that never have to be repaid. On the other hand, student loans must be repaid, but they're made at very low interest rates, and you're usually you're not required to begin repayment until six months after you graduate. Some student loans require you to prove financial need, but some of them don't. Many students turn to student loans as a method to pay for college. Basically, if you cannot get access to the free money you have to borrow it in the form of a student loan.

Types of Scholarships Available

Scholarships originate from a variety of sources. This section will help you understand who awards scholarships and why they support college education through this specialized funding.

Types of Scholarships

College Scholarships Come In Many Forms

College-Specific Awards

Colleges often have scholarship money available that is used to develop the financial package offered to an applicant who has been granted admission. These types of scholarships are available under a variety of terms that may include maintaining a certain GPA or pursuing a specific major.

Athletic Scholarships

Many athletes dream of going to college on an athletic scholarship. It's possible to achieve that dream, but these types of scholarships are highly competitive and the application process is a world unto itself. Awards are made through colleges, and applying for an athletic scholarship is akin to marketing yourself for a starring movie role. If you are interested in winning an athletic scholarship, go immediately to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Web site and begin reading as fast as you can.

According to the NCAA, athletic scholarships for undergraduate student-athletes at Division I and Division II schools are partially funded through the NCAA membership revenue distribution. These scholarships are awarded directly by each academic institution and not the NCAA. About $1 billion in athletic scholarships are awarded each year. Over 126,000 student-athletes receive either a partial or full athletic scholarship. Division III schools offer only academic scholarships. They do not offer athletic scholarships.

Second, contact the financial aid office of the school you hope to attend. They should have lots of information about available awards.

Third, find and read detailed information about the process of winning athletic scholarships. You might start with the site, www.collegesportsscholarships.com, created by an athlete and his dad to help other athletes understand the scholarship process. It's all free and is a good starting point. Also, the Fund My Future site, www.fundmyfuture.info, provides a lot of good, free information.

Academic Awards

These merit-based scholarships are awarded by your college for academic achievement. Inquire about these awards at your school's financial aid office, though you may not even have to apply for an academic award; they are often wrapped into the financial aid package offered by the college, based on your college application.

Departmental Awards

Specific departments may have scholarships available to attract or retain students in the department's field of study. If you know what your major will be, contact that department to inquire about scholarships.

Private Organizations

There are thousands of private organizations that offer scholarship awards, ranging from $50 to $20,000 and more. Within the "private" category, there are many types of organizations to consider.

Corporations

Corporations offer scholarships to attract and retain employees, support the communities where the business is located, and encourage entrants into the business's field of work. These are often the scholarships that go unawarded for lack of applicants.

Search for corporation scholarships by checking with your parents' employers for possible programs, researching businesses in your region, and searching your newspaper's archives for award announcements. You may have a much greater chance of receiving a private corporation award because geographic, employment, and other restrictions narrow the number of candidates.

Religious Organizations

Religious organizations often award scholarships to help their members afford the cost of college. If you and your family are affiliated with a specific religious group, check with your local group about the availability of scholarships, as these types of scholarships are sometimes easier to qualify for than other kinds.

Unions

Unions are a major source of scholarship funds. The AFL-CIO Web site is good place to start searching for union-sponsored scholarships.

High School or School District

Your high school may offer scholarships to graduating students. Your high school guidance counselor can provide information about availability.

Chamber of Commerce

Chambers often have scholarship programs, and they can be great sources of information about which businesses in your community offer scholarships.

Other Private Organizations

The ubiquitous category "other" is really the mother lode of scholarship opportunities. There are thousands of scholarships available, given by organizations that wish to further their mission by supporting the education of students. This category of scholarships is the reason for using a Web search engine to identify suitable opportunities in this vast universe of money offers.

The Military

The military is a well-known source of college scholarships. The Air Force ROTC program can pay up to full college tuition, plus a stipend for books. Military scholarships are awarded in return for a tour of duty with the branch of the military supporting your education. Be sure you're prepared to fulfill the terms of your scholarship agreement. If the prospect of military service fits with your goals, a military scholarship may be an excellent way for you to underwrite your college education.

Use the military link at www.students.gov to locate the sites that you should search for military scholarships, including special scholarships for veterans.

State and Federal Sources of Financial Aid Funds

The federal government provides $41.3 billion in grant aid to post-secondary education students annually. The aid comes in several forms:

Need-based federal aid:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
  • Federal Work Study
  • Perkins Loans
Financing options:
  • Federal PLUS Loans (also known as Direct Plus Loans)
  • Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans (also known as Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans)
  • Other parent loans
  • Alternative student loans

To receive a grant from the federal program, your college must qualify to administer these grants. Check with your school's financial aid department to be sure your school is a qualified participant. The Internet site where you can fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), www.fafsa.ed.gov, provides great information about federal grant programs.

Another excellent site is www.students.gov. Click on their scholarships link, and you will find a glittering array of scholarship possibilities from many different federal agencies.

Check with your state's higher education authority to see what kind of assistance is available. Many states provide excellent scholarships and grants and often have special categories of award for women going back to school, minorities, and people with disabilities. Be sure to follow all application procedures and deadlines. Many colleges will not make up for state grants lost to students though late applications. Additionally, many states and private colleges administer need-based institutional funds that help round out financial aid awards.

Information Overload

The categories described on this page represent thousands of scholarships and billions of dollars in financial aid. Your job is to make your way through the maze of information and options, and in doing so, create a scholarship application plan that gives you the highest probability of success with the best scholarship matches available.

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Last Updated: 09/25/2013