Scholarship Basics and Tips: U.S. Department of Education
We all know college is super expensive; not only do you have to pay tuition, but there’s also room and board (for those of you staying on campus), a meal plan (yay for cafeteria food…), and textbooks (buying hundred-dollar books for one chapter). It’s a lot. Luckily for us, there’s help: scholarships! Of course there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually be awarded any money, and sometimes it can seem like a whole lot of work for a whole lot of nothing. But that’s why I’m here! I’ve gone through the process recently (and am doing it again), and I’m at your service with suggestions and tips.
Types of Scholarships
There are scholarships for almost everything—all you have to do is look. Applying for scholarships doesn’t have to be tedious—find scholarships for things you’re passionate about. Some scholarships are really cool. There are scholarships for animal rescue, volunteering with the elderly, etc.; you can find them through specific organizations, too.
You can’t apply for scholarships if you don’t know where to find them. Here’s a handy list of places you can get money from:
Who Can Apply
Anyone who is going to be attending college next year—current high school seniors and current college students. Different scholarships have different eligibility requirements, so check and make sure you meet all the requirements for a scholarship before you apply.
When to Apply
. Just assume that you should be looking for and applying for scholarships right now. Even if the due date isn’t for months, it’s good to get a head start. It seems to me that “scholarship season” is in late winter/early spring for the next academic year, though, and that is when most scholarships will be offered.
There are several things that often pop up as requirements for scholarship applications, so it’s good to get those things ready early. Some scholarships, along with an essay, will require:
The Dreaded Essay
A lot of scholarship essay assignments are really similar and want you to answer questions like “What is your biggest accomplishment in life?” so you can do a decent amount of copying and pasting from one application to another. Many scholarship applications will ask for rather dry and academic responses, but sometimes you can use your hobbies as material for your essays. That definitely makes the essay-writing easier. If you’re looking to actually enjoy the scholarship application process, fun essay prompts do exist. My favorite one was an essay about the best food experience I’ve ever had. I wrote about eating a mango on a roof in Guatemala; it was awesome.
Time for the fun part. Here are my recommendations:
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
CSS/Financial Aid Profile by College Board
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency
Guide to Financial Aid
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
Large Scholarship Search Engine
Resource for Private Student Loans
Step by Step Guide to Financial Aid
Information on Federal & Private Student Aid
School Search Engine
Local spring scholarships are now available in your Family Connection by Naviance account. Please visit the website and search under "About College" - "Scholarship List" - "Local Scholarships" at http://connection.naviance.com/pinerichland for a complete listing of this year's scholarship opportunities. An electronic copy is also available in Naviance under "Document Library".