5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Scholarship
Applying for grants and scholarships can be a daunting process, especially for first-time students. It’s not a one-time effort either – in fact, many students continue to search and apply for scholarships throughout their undergraduate and graduate education.
According to Debt.org, an estimated $46 billion in grants and scholarship money is awarded each year by various colleges and universities as well as the U.S. Department of Education. An additional $3.3 billion is awarded by private sources, such as corporations, professional groups and chambers of commerce.
Finding and applying for scholarships takes time and patience, but steps you take to help make your education possible can pay off in the long run.
Scholarships and grants: What are they?
Scholarships are “free money” awarded by a third party directly to a student, usually based on academic achievement or other accomplishments, such as athletics or community service. Unlike loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid. Scholarship applications can range from something as simple as submitting your email address to writing a personal essay. While scholarships are merit-based, grants are need-based and are available to students based on criteria such as family income. Students can apply for federal or state grants. Another well-known federal grant program is the Pell Grant, which awards grants to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.
How do I find a scholarship?
- Talk to your academic advisor. Your college or university is often the best resource for finding information about scholarships and tuition assistance. Talk with your academic advisor or a member of your college’s financial aid department to determine which opportunities might be best.
- Check with your employer. Corporations might offer scholarships for their employees and family members of employees. You or your relative can ask your manager or HR representative.
- Go online. There are many online resources for students who want to expand their scholarship search, whether local or nationwide. For example, Scholly is an ad-free scholarship search tool that is provided free of charge for Herzing students (Scholly code: HerzingPossible). Scholly also vets scholarship postings to help students find legitimate and relevant scholarship opportunities. Other online resources include the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool.
Two things to keep in mind while you search:
- Beware of scams. Remember that you should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship. If a scholarship looks suspicious, contact your educational funding advisor. They are there to help review scholarships to make sure they are legitimate.
- Stay organized. It’s important to make sure that you keep track of the scholarships you’ve applied for and been awarded, as some are recurring and dependent on your GPA or other criteria. Consider creating a spreadsheet or chart to manage your scholarship application process.