With the frenzy of college application deadlines finally winding down families are starting to apply for financial aid. And while some of you will qualify for need-based aid, some of you will not. Or, you will qualify but the award may not be enough to get you where you need to be.
Having said that, if there is a gap between what the college is offering you and what you can afford to pay, spending some time applying for private scholarships can help ease that burden. Scholarships can be found just about anywhere and sometimes getting started can be rather difficult.
Today, I’d like to share a few tips to help make that a bit easier:
1. If you know what you want to major in, you should start looking for scholarships through professional organizations and associations affiliated with that field. For example, here’s a list of scholarships offered through the National Society for Professional Engineers (NSPE) for students interested in majoring in engineering.
2. To narrow down internet search results, trying searching more specifically such as “biology scholarships 2018 2019”.
3. Make good use of social media. The ScholarshipExperts.com Pinterest board has over 1,400 scholarships!
4. Beware of scams. It should never cost you more than a postage stamp to apply for a scholarship. Also NEVER give out your social security number or bank information.
5. Start your search locally and be prepared to do the work that other students won’t. Check out scholarship opportunities through your parents’ employers, local organizations, your bank or credit union, the town library, your church and, most importantly, your school counseling office.
6. Searching for scholarships is like a part-time job. It’s not a one and done deal. The more you search and the more you apply, the more likely you are to win something.
7. When you are using a scholarship search engine like the ones on FinAid or FastWeb you must fill out the profiles completely if you want to have the best chances of finding and winning scholarships. Incomplete profiles are not going to help you.
8. If you have to write an essay, apply the same rules for college application essays: Grab the reader’s attention in the first two sentences and tell a story. If your essay bores you, it will most definitely bore the scholarship selection committee person who has to read it.
9. Keep in mind the essays you’ve already written for college applications. Recycle and re-purpose where you can to save time, but pay close attention to what each essay prompt is asking you – a recycled essay that doesn’t answer the prompt will not help you win a scholarship.
10. Look for “livelines” versus deadlines. Find out what the earliest date is you can apply and apply on that date. Be the one to lead the pack of applications!
At the end of the day, scholarship searching is a process and a time-consuming one at that. Pace yourself and stay positive. Also keep in mind that private scholarships can often affect your financial aid award. Colleges treat scholarships differently, but some will reduce your merit scholarships dollar for dollar for each private scholarship that you earn.
If you’re unsure of how colleges will treat private scholarships, give them a call and ask. It’s better to know up front before you invest a lot of time in your scholarship search.
If you would like some assistance with your college search or financial aid process, contact me today for a free consultation.