Don’t let senioritis get the better of you in your last year of high school. This should be your time for applying to colleges, touring campuses, and most of all, having a money conversation with your parents.
Your school’s guidance office or bulletin board (online or in-school) should have a number of scholarship resources to choose from, like listings, fliers, or financial aid nights, as well as those for the potential colleges you’re considering.
Plenty of community clubs, groups, or organizations sponsor college scholarships. Like your scholarship search at school, check your library’s board or website for any scholarship listings they may have.
Rotary or Kiwanis clubs will often sponsor scholarships for local students and have information on how to apply. Additionally, churches, synagogues, or local nonprofit organizations are also good resources for finding higher-ed scholarships.
You might even look at the local newspaper to see if there are any contests, sweepstakes, or competitions to win a full or partial scholarship.
There are many helpful scholarship search engines. Try some of these sites to search and apply for scholarships:
Many companies help employees during repayment of their student loans. Other employers, including Starbucks and Chipotle, might be able to help connect you with tuition money if you’re headed for the prestigious halls of college.
If you work a part-time job that employs many high school- or college-aged peers, check to see if they provide resources for obtaining scholarships. Or, check with your parents, a sibling, or another relative if their place of employment can be of aid.
Now that you know how to find college scholarships, consider the following tips to make the process even more seamless.
If you’re currently enrolled in college, there’s no need to wait to apply for next year’s financial aid if you’ve got some scholarships in mind. FastWeb recommends spending at least 30 minutes per day or a few hours a week on scholarship applications if you’re serious about saving on college costs.
You can spend as much time as you like searching for scholarships, but how many should you be applying to? Like college applications, sending out a handful here or there isn’t doing you or your academic future justice.
Cast your net as wide as possible. Scour the resources above for as many scholarships as you can find; apply for dozens, if not hundreds, across different scholarship categories and see which ones you may win over the competition.
Some words of praise from a teacher, professor, or employer can be a major asset in winning a scholarship.
Many scholarship opportunities require at least one to two letters of recommendation, so give the person you’d like to write a recommendation ample lead time. Ask them to emphasize the skills or qualities that make you an ideal scholarship candidate. Always follow up with a thank-you letter, whether you’ve been granted or denied the award.
It’s rare for most students to receive a full-ride scholarship covering your entire tuition — only the lucky valedictorians, Ivy League-bound scholars, or future pro athletes may qualify for those.
That doesn’t mean you should turn down smaller scholarship awards. To the contrary, if you win a bunch of awards amounting to a few hundred dollars each, they may total as much (or more) than that one large, big-ticket scholarship.
Relying on scholarships as your sole source of financial aid is like gambling all your money on one hand of poker. Apply optimistically, but exhaust other avenues, too.
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Examine your federal and private student loan choices, and make a budget determining how much tuition money you’ll likely be borrowing, what your interest rates are repayment terms, and the amount you may owe.
It goes without saying that the key to qualifying for that prestigious, unique, or important scholarship tailored to your academic pursuits is to keep your grades up as high as possible. With hard work, diligence, and knowledge of how to find scholarships for college, you can lessen your out-of-pocket expenses.