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Find Your Scholarship or Grant

Many scholarships—literally thousands—are available for students. Unlike grants, scholarships are not necessarily need-based. Scholarships, like grants, provide you with free money for college that does not have to be paid back.

The more applications for scholarships you send in, the more likely you’ll receive one or more. Don’t limit yourself to large scholarships—you may be more eligible, and have a greater chance at success, with multiple small scholarships.

Scholarships and grants are the first places you should look when planning out how to finance your education. And don’t feel that you are limited by age or any other personal consideration. There are scholarships for every person and field of study. In the college year of 2017 – 2018, more than 35% of student college costs were covered by scholarships and grants. It’s definitely worth making the effort!

Choosing a scholarship:
Search for scholarships that are most relevant to your background, field of study, sport, skill, interest, achievement, or other attribute. Whether you’re in grad school, were just accepted into college, or partway through college, there are sure to be scholarships for which you qualify and for which you should apply.

Finding a scholarship:
Find what scholarships are available: Contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend; research at the public library; do your research online.
Places to look:

  • University, college, or career school financial aid office
  • High school or TRIO counselor
  • U.S. Department of Labor scholarship search
  • Federal agencies Student Aid website 
  • Your state’s grant agency
  • Local public library reference desk
  • Organizations related to your area of interest and study: foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, civic groups
  • Your employer or your parents’ employers

When you are looking for a scholarship, certainly apply for the general-interest ones, but don’t forget to look at those scholarships that apply to a certain set of people, or specific subjects, or by education-degree level:

  • Demographic groups: Women, African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, other minorities or ethnicities
  • Family-specific: First in family, adult students, foster children, non-traditional students, low-income
  • Subjects: Teaching, medicine, psychology, science, math, technology, religion, criminal justice, social work, and just about any interest you can think of
  • Fortune 500 scholarships: Companies like Target, McDonald’s, Ford, Apple, Pepsi, and more have scholarship programs for their employees
  • Military: Veterans, spouses and children of veterans or currently serving military
  • Athletic: Available for most sports
  • Medical condition: Scholarships for students with specific medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, ADHD, and disabilities
  • And more!

Applying for a scholarship:
Before you start your applications for scholarships, you will need to fill out a FAFSA (free application for federal student aid). Once that has gone through, then get the application from the scholarship’s website. Make sure you read applications carefully, fill them out completely, and meet the application deadlines. Each scholarship will have its own requirements.

When to apply:
Each scholarship has its own schedule and its own deadline for application. Some are not that far in advance, but others may need to be submitted a year or so before your college starts.

Other things to know:

  • Your scholarship money may go right to your college, or may be sent directly to you. Be sure to ask about this, if the information isn’t supplied.
  • All your student aid added together cannot be more that the cost of your attendance. Make sure you understand just what your scholarship can apply to—does it cover textbooks or just tuition? Does it cover costs of living—rent, food, or transportation? If you are confused, talk to your college’s financial aid office.
  • Beware of scams! You do not need to pay to find scholarship or grant information. Make sure the offers you receive are legitimate. You do not need to pay a fee to apply for FAFSA. Do not share your FAFSA ID with anyone. Don’t give personal or financial information over the phone, through email, or on the internet unless you initiated the contact. You don’t have to pay for financial aid advice. Keep track of what you’ve applied for, and what you’ve received. Keep receipts and documents and when you no longer need them, shred them.

Start your research early, know and meet the deadlines, and you will be on your way to one or more scholarships.

A scholarship might cover all the cost of your tuition and housing, or the cost of your textbooks, or just a general award of a few hundred dollars. But in any case it will reduce the cost of your education!


This entry was posted in Education expense planning, Financial Education, Personal Finance for Real People and tagged , , , , , , by sandynight. Bookmark the permalink.

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