Applying for and receiving financial aid is an important part of the college admissions process. That’s why it’s important to look at all of your financial aid options, including reading up on scholarship information to find out what you need to do before applying for awards.
We always stress that you should apply early and apply often, as awards are being added to scholarship databases constantly and many have deadlines that could be fast approaching. Conduct a free scholarship search from one or more of the sites listed below as your first step toward finding awards you’re eligible for. Browse through this article and others to gather information on scholarships because the more scholarship information you have, the more prepared you’ll be to start the process and land your share of the free money out there to supplement your financial aid package for college.
HOW DO I FIND SCHOLARSHIPS?
You may feel like it isn’t worth it to apply to scholarship awards because of how competitive many of them are. But someone has to win, so why shouldn’t it be you? Landing an award isn’t easy but there are ways to improve your chances, especially if the scholarship you find is focused on criteria specific to your student profile. Qualification criteria vary so much from scholarship provider to scholarship provider that many people seeking scholarships could certainly find some assistance. Many scholarships are merit based and you will want to apply for them if you have a strong GPA and good test scores but don’t forget all of the things that make you unique and could help you find some free money yourself.
One of the most important steps once you find an award that interests you is to read the directions carefully. Pay attention to deadlines and make sure you meet the qualifications. Paying attention to detail will also keep you from making minor mistakes that will send your application to the bottom of the judges’ pile. Remember that there are scholarship opportunities out there even if your strengths have nothing to do with academics.
WHEN SHOULD I APPLY?
Scholarship deadlines will occur throughout the year. You can start searching, gathering information and applying after your junior year. Keep in mind that students should always submit their scholarship information before the application deadline. Many organizations will not even glance at late arrivals when determining recipients of scholarship awards, so you could be out of luck if you’re even a day late. Some applications may require you to put in some time but once you've completed an application or two, you might find it will get easier and take less time with each additional one scholarship award. You may even find that you’re able to use components of some applications for other scholarships, such as essays or personal statements.
WHAT TIPS SHOULD I KEEP IN MIND?
The misinformation and scholarship myths out there could scare anyone out of applying for college scholarships. If you do a little research now, you’ll find that not only is the scholarship application process not as time-consuming and intense as you may think, but that there are awards out there for almost everyone. If you know what to look for in an award, you’ll be less likely to find yourself paying to either enter to win an award or to use a scholarship search website. With options like Scholarships.com, there’s no need to ever pay to get an extensive list of awards you qualify for. You don’t need to look too hard to find scholarships you could be eligible for and students who know what scholarship information judges are looking for will have a head start on the competition and the best chance atwinning scholarships. Some of the more important things to remember include applying early (or at least before the deadline), meeting all requirements, following all directions, proofreading and, if the opportunity presents itself, expressing personality and stressing individuality.
Browse through our site to see the kind of scholarship information you’ll need to find awards worthy of your attention and you’ll find that once you start the process, you’ll be surprised you hadn’t started searching sooner.
Secrets for successful Scholarship Applications
At the most basic, here are ten things you can do to get your application off on the right foot and boost your chances of creating success in your scholarship search. These tips are a great place to start and important items to keep in mind, regardless of what else you do to further polish your scholarship strategy. While some of these may seem overly simple, they are surprisingly easy to forget when you’re in the midst of the scholarship application process.
1. Apply only if you are eligible.
2. Complete the application.
3. Read and follow all instructions.
4. Submit a clean and neat application.
5. Submit a well-composed essay that makes a definite impression.
6. Be aware of and meet all deadlines.
7. Mail application to the proper address with the proper postage affixed.
8. Give your application materials a final review.
9. Seek assistance if you feel you need it.
10. Make sure you're proud of and satisfied with your application submission.
HELPFUL TIPS ON MAXIMIZING MERIT AID
Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely a stressful part of the process. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package(your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to remember that merit aid – aid based on a student’s attributes - is available to students regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! Who would have thunk it?! So, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.
Fill out the FAFSA. Federal rules have changed. College aid officials are now allowed to award need-based aid to students whose parents earned decent salaries last year but have recently been laid off, as well as make accommodations for a family’s unique circumstances, such as high medical bills.
Apply to schools where you’d rank at the top. While your dream school might be an Ivy League, you should apply to at least a few colleges where your GPA would put you in the top 25 percent of the student body.
Apply to schools that offer generous need-based aid. In the 2009-10 academic year, Louisiana College reported that 88 percent of students were receiving non-need based financial aid. Do the schools you’re considering boast the same kind of aid?
Do the research. If you’re interested in a college, find out what it has to offer when it comes to merit aid. You might qualify for more awards than you think!
Before making a final decision, compare net prices. Consider the cost of attendance in its entirety including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation. The school that offers the most in merit aid might not be the best choice; sometimes the college offering the largest merit scholarship might have the highest net price because its tuition is higher.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Believe it or not, you have negotiating leverage when it comes to your merit aid package. If you have received admission letters from two or more universities and your first choice has a higher net price than your second choice, contact that institution! Some schools might be willing to match the merit aid offered, which would provide you the opportunity to attend your first choice school fo less money!
(Taken from https://www.scholarships.com/main.aspxr)
Also check out the helpful links page for more information on scholarships