Searching for scholarships

You probably have read or heard from your financial aid counselor or from friends that money in the form of scholarships is out there. Are you told exactly where and what the steps are for finding scholarship money? Finding a scholarship is rewarding if you receive it, otherwise, it can be disappointing experience. Think about the work you have to put into getting a scholarship. You have to fill out applications, get recommendations, write essays, and so on. Don’t forget the scholarship-seeking applicant is competing with many other aid seekers.

This does not mean however you should not try searching. If you don’t try, you won’t know what kind of money you can get in aid. If you don’t qualify for any financial aid or you qualify for very little aid, it may be worth seeking scholarships. Otherwise, you may need to borrow money. If you like competing, you may enjoy the experience of seeking a scholarship.

If you are ready to start your quest for a scholarship, consider these leads:

  • High school guidance counselor — if you are in high school, check with your high school guidance counselor. The counselor is an excellent source for finding or directing you to scholarship opportunities. Why? Many local and national organizations distribute scholarship applications through high school guidance counselors.
  • College's financial-aid office — If you are in college, you may already have some idea about where to get scholarships. A financial-aid office in a college is the place to search for scholarships. Your financial-aid office is just call, email or a few clicks away on the Internet.
  • Search on the Net
  • Library — your public library has scholarship guides. Check through several of those to get an idea of what is out there.
  • Employer scholarships — if you are employed or if your parents are employed, the employer may have generous scholarships offers. The hr department will have details on the scholarships opportunities.
  • State scholarships — your state has variety of scholarships for its residents. You will need to contact your state scholarship agency to get all the details.
  • High school clubs, professional associations, religious groups, or athletic scholarships

As mentioned above, there are many others each year competing for the scholarships. Here are some tips to improve your chances:

  • Start your quest for scholarships early. If you are in high school, start the search probably before the junior year. Then, you should have plenty of time to prepare yourself for not only applying but also qualifying.
  • Know the eligibility criteria. If you are not eligible for a specific scholarship, don’t apply because there is a great chance you will be disqualified as there may be far more qualifying candidates. To be eligible, for example, if the scholarship posting says you need to study Nursing but you want to study Engineering, you are not going to qualify if you apply. Instead, focus your energy on the scholarship you are eligible for.
  • Read instructions. Don’t send your application without reading and following instructions. If the instruction is that you write a 500-word essay, don’t exceed that limit. Also, don’t forget to send transcripts or recommendations if you are instructed to provide those.

What can you find in a scholarship posting?

In general, you will find these items (not necessarily in this order):

  • The organization sponsoring the scholarship,
  • The name of the scholarship,
  • Amount of award,
  • Edibility criteria (i.e., GPA, SAT scores, juniors, seniors etc.),
  • Deadline,
  • Contact information (includes organization address, contact phone number, email address, and website address),
  • Instructions on applying, and
  • Any other pertinent information
Posted on 9/3/2006
by Raj Singh