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The Scoop on Scholarships
November 28, 2016
Many students worry about the cost of college, but scholarships are a way to lower your expenses without having to pay anything back.
A scholarship is money for a student’s education that does not have to be paid back, which means free money for college. However, free does not always mean easy.
Realizing that you have to apply for a variety of different scholarships may be frustrating, but the good news is that there is a scholarship for everyone. Scholarships can be awarded for anything from athletics and academics to duck calling and dancing.
Here are some places to search for scholarships:
-Guidance counselors: They have tons of resources for you and are able to steer you toward the scholarships that are a good match for you.
-Parents’ employers: Lots of jobs have scholarship opportunities for their employees’ children. I applied for one through my dad’s work by writing an essay.
-Community foundations: These organizations regularly award scholarships and other grants. Here is a list of community foundations in Indiana.
-Extracurricular activities: Scholarships sometimes tailor themselves to your hobbies and involvement, such as community service or being on student council. Ask the advisers of your clubs and see if they know of any.
-Google: The internet is your friend. You can search “scholarships for…” and fill in the blank with anything that applies to you, such as women in STEM, first-generation students, tall people or ducking calling. (I’ve seen all of those in real life.) FastWeb, Peterson’s and UniGo are also some good scholarship sites to start with.
-Your future school: When you apply at a college, you can be considered for scholarships based on arts, athletics and academics. Some departments even award money to incoming students, so check these out.
Once you have found some scholarships, you need to evaluate them. Every scholarship is different, and you want to be sure it is a good match.
Here are some good questions to ask:
-Am I eligible? Read the fine print and make sure you qualify. Sometimes you have to plan on majoring in something specific, live in a certain area, or be of a particular race or religion. Also make sure you meet any minimum requirements for GPA or SAT/ACT test scores.
-What can it pay for? Scholarships can be used for tuition, room and board or supplies like a laptop or books, but the program might make stipulations. Check out what it will pay for and try to spread it out over your different expenses.
-Is it renewable? Some scholarships will only give you money for your freshman year, but others can be renewed every year until graduation.
-What do I need to do? Look at the application process and see what materials you need to apply or if you have to be available for an interview or write an essay.
-What is the timeline? Always check deadlines and give yourself enough time to complete all the steps.
There is no harm in applying for a scholarship, even if you’re not sure you’ll get it. Whether it is for $500 or $5,000 dollars, any money for college helps you lower your costs.
Apply for some you qualify for and you might be pleasantly surprised!
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