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Scholarships

Where to Find A Scholarship

The Federal Student Aid website, which is an office of the US Department of Education, suggests that when looking for a scholarship, a student should find as many as possible and apply for all of them. Paying for college is expensive, and every scholarship makes a dent in the amount you’ll have to pay – or the amount you’ll owe in student loans. Students should treat applying for scholarships like they treat every other aspect of preparing for college – be systematic, be organized, and take it seriously.

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There are literally thousands of scholarship opportunities offered by schools, companies, religious groups, and nonprofit organizations. Students do not have to pay back the money they receive from scholarships.

Students can receive money from more than one scholarship or grant at the same time, as long as the students meet the requirements. Some organizations require proof of completion of a semester and the student’s GPA. There are many ways to find all the various different scholarships.

Finding Scholarships You Qualify For

Most students wonder how many scholarships they should apply for because they think that there is a limit. A student should apply for as many scholarships as he or she can find. There are so many types of scholarships available and some are incredibly specific in how the student can use them. They should make sure that they are using the scholarships as intended. The first thing students should do is contact the school in which they are interested in attending, or have already applied, to see what scholarships, grants or loans they offer. The financial aid office can provides a list of all scholarships and grants and their requirements to interested students. Schools offers scholarships only to students that are going to matriculate at that school. Once you’ve done that, dive into the many resources online providing contact information for scholarships that may meet your needs in helping you pay for college.

Scholarships for Distance Learners

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Best Scholarships for Online Students

Diversity Scholarships

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Biggest Scholarships for Black and African-American Students
Biggest Scholarships for Latino and Hispanic Students
Biggest Scholarships for LGBTQ Students
Biggest Scholarships for Women

Scholarships for Specific Majors

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Art and Design Scholarships
Business School Scholarships
Counseling and Psychology Scholarships
Computer Science Scholarships
Education Scholarships
Law & Criminal Justice Scholarships
Liberal Arts Scholarships
Nursing School Scholarships
Social Work Scholarships
STEM Scholarships
Trade School Scholarships

General Scholarships

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Biggest College Scholarship
Biggest Scholarship for First in Family
Biggest Scholarship for Veterans and Their Families

Residency and Other Criteria to Consider for Scholarships

The US Department of Labor has a scholarship finder that provides students a way to search for any scholarships and grants for which they might be eligible. The US Department of Education also has a website that provides information about scholarship websites for each state. These websites provide a list of the best scholarship websites for college available within that state.

Often students do not realize that scholarships are not all based on need or high grades. Some of them are based on having leadership skills, or studying a certain major, like nursing. Some of these scholarships are awarded based on where the student lives. The reasons for why scholarships can be awarded are countless, and students should be able to find multiple for which they can apply. The Department of Education website provides a list of scholarships for college that contains over 20,000 scholarships and grants.

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Organizations and groups often offer scholarships to students who are, or whose parents are, current members of their group or organization. Students should check with any organizations to which they belong to see if there are scholarships available. Individuals often do not know what is available until they ask. If students are employed, many times employers will offer scholarships to their employees, or children of their employees.

Scholarships based on need are the most prevalent and obvious when it comes to thinking about scholarship criteria. There are a surprising number of scholarships available that are not need based at all. For example, there are numerous search databases with millions of scholarships for college students. A search engine like this will allow students to select specific criteria for which the scholarships are intended. Many scholarships are intended for undergraduate students, especially rising college freshman. However, there are scholarships available for every grade level. Often when students receive a scholarship for their freshman year, they are not guaranteed for the rest of their college years and the student make have to reapply. Students should make sure that they maintain their GPA and stay in good standing academically.

There are many scholarships given based on the student’s planned major or career path after graduation. There are career paths that are in need of students in that area, and they offer many scholarships. Students in areas such as healthcare, especially nursing, education, and engineering are known to receive generous scholarships. If students are not sure of their major, or what career path they want to pursue, there are many other scholarship options available.

There are scholarships available for specific areas of interest, such as excellent writing skills or leadership qualities. Some scholarships are given out based on community service and other types of service. There are scholarships available for athletes. Typically the school of choice for a student is where that student will find a sports scholarship. However, those are typically given to the star athletes. Students who are not the best of the best in athletics can still find scholarships for sports. Groups and organizations local to the students area may offer scholarships for sports.

Even if you are still in high school, it is not too early to start looking for scholarships. There are some scholarships available for high school juniors to use during their freshman year of college. When students are looking at which schools they would like to attend, they should also look for scholarships for which they can apply.

The Timeline of Scholarship Application Process

As soon as students begin to seriously think about and look at colleges, they should also consider scholarships. There are many students applying for scholarships, so it is best to start the process as early as possible. Even if students are already in college, that does not mean that they should stop applying for scholarships. They are available at all grade levels and students should continue to apply each year that they are in college. The SallieMae site offers advice on when to begin applying for scholarships. They suggest applying as early as possible and as often as feasible.

Students must pay close attention to the deadlines of the scholarships. Some of them are the year before college starts, so it is important to be aware of the dates. For many scholarships, students do not have to know to which college they are going. The application process itself is fairly simple, but it is important to know the criteria for each scholarship and make sure the applicant meets all of the criteria before applying for scholarships.

When applying for scholarships, students should give themselves enough time to devote to the application and additional documentation. They should pay attention to the details. Missing one minor thing could cost them from getting the scholarship. Students should take the time to read everything about the scholarship, including any find print. If there is something the student is unsure about, he or she should call and ask any questions they have. When possible, the application should be typed, or done online. If the scholarship must be filled out by hand, students should write legibly and carefully and make sure that the application itself stays neat and clean, without creases, smudges, or dirt. Always have the application reviewed by a parent, or friend. Students should have a teacher review any essays or short answer questions before they are submitted.

The most important thing to remember is to follow all the rules and criteria of submission. Students will be eliminated for not following the directions completely. Students should make sure if the scholarship can be emailed, or if it has to go in the postal mail. They should always make sure to submit everything on time. Students should give themselves enough time to apply and not wait for the last minute.

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Can I Apply for Scholarships Online?

Yes, students absolutely can apply for scholarships online. Not, only that but they are able to apply for scholarships online for free. Students should not have to pay to apply for a scholarship. If a site, or a particular scholarship is asking for a fee, or payment, students and parents should avoid that site. It is most likely a scam. There are a few exceptions. Some scholarships come from organizations or groups that require membership. Some of those groups have annual dues or membership fees. These fees are required to be a member of the group, not to apply for the scholarship and those fees are there whether or not the member applies for the scholarship.

The financial guru and podcaster, Clark Howard, has an article that provides some tips on how to apply for scholarships online. They also provide links to websites students can use to apply for free scholarships. One thing to keep in mind, while applying for scholarships online is easy, students should still be mindful that they meet the criteria for the scholarship. They do not want to waste their time or anyone else’s by applying for a scholarship for which they are not eligible.

By applying for scholarships online, a student can save information he or she has used on a previous application. The student can save essays and short answer questions to a document on his or her computer and use it for another application. Some scholarship search sites can also help students by saving information that can be filled into another application. The application process itself is simple, especially in the online environment. The more applications a student fills out, the easier it becomes with each subsequent application. Students should still be mindful of application due dates. Applications will not be accepted after the due date has passed and they do not want to miss out on an opportunity just because they were not organized.

How to Write a Scholarship Letter About Yourself

There are thousands of students applying for the same scholarships. In most cases, there is only one, maybe two, scholarship to award. Out of the thousands that apply, only one student will be selected. Those are tough odds and each application a student submits should be the absolute best it can be. Many scholarship application require an essay. The essay portion of the application has to stand out and present the student in the best possible fashion.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers some techniques on how to write an amazing essay for scholarship applications. Students can find a scholarship application template online to help him or her write an essay. There are some things to consider about how to write application for scholarship consideration. Students should look for scholarships that they believe they have the strongest chance of being awarded. Students should look at the essay topic to determine if they are a good fit. Possibly, they have an experience they can share, or have a personal interest in the subject that makes them an ideal candidate for the scholarship.

Students should spend a significant amount of time on the essay. Students should not overlook the point that the essay is what will be the deciding factor. They may be able to use the same essay for multiple applications with just a few tweaks. When writing the essay, the student must be aware of the length and format. These are specific to each application and not following these rules will disqualify a student’s essay immediately. The reviewers will not look any further at the essay if the rules are not followed.

Students should find out more about the organization or provider of the scholarship to ensure they are writing an essay that meets their needs. Essays often require a personal touch, or personal information about the applicant. These qualities will help essays stand out from all the rest of the applications. Students should always be sure to triple check their essay for spelling and grammatical errors. If using a computer, spell check is great, but it may not catch all mistakes. Student should get another person, preferably an English teacher or a proficient writer, to read over their essay before submission.

Scholarship essays should be compelling to get and maintain the reader’s attention. Students should write about things for which they care. When a writer cares about the topic with which they are writing, it comes across and the reader can tell. Students should make sure the essay has a point and should stay on topic. The essay readers will have thousands of them to read and they do not want to get bogged down in an essay that has no point or travels all over the place within the essay. This essay will be how students present themselves to the selection team and they want to present themselves in the best way possible.

What Can I Use Scholarships For?

Attending college is expensive. The cost of the tuition and books and room and board can be enough to put students in a position where they cannot afford to go to college. Then, there are other unforeseen costs such as furnishing a dorm room and extra fees and materials that are needed for classes. Students often need laptops and other expensive equipment for college. Fortunately, there are loans, grants and scholarships available to students to help with the cost of college. Before jumping in and applying for scholarships, students should be aware of how they can be used. US News and World Report printed an article within the last year highlighting all the ways in which a student can use a scholarship. Some scholarships are clear in their criteria in the ways the student may use the money.

The money from a scholarship can usually be used for tuition first. Some scholarships can be used only for tuition. When a scholarship can only be used for tuition, the money is typically sent directly to the school. It is rarely sent to the student for the student to then give to the school. One thing to keep in mind is scholarship money may impact any financial aid that a student is receiving, so they should always check that. Often times, financial aid is reduced dollar for dollar based on the amount of the scholarship. If the scholarship is awarded for $2,000, then $2,000 may be taken away from financial aid. Students must always report any scholarships they have been awarded to their school.

Some scholarships can be used for any type of educational cost. The scholarship checks are sent directly to the student to be used for whatever needs he or she may have. This money can be used for books or room and board. Some scholarships can be used for living expenses, like food and furnishing a dorm room. Typically, when the money is sent directly to the student, there is no tracking as to how the money is spent. It is up to the student to ensure the money is spent on the intended purpose. The student will have to be responsible because if the money is used on unintended items, that will be less money the student has for book or room and board.

Scholarships may have tax implications for the student or the student’s parents. Money used for tuition, fees, books and other supplies is tax free. Money used for things such as living expenses or room and board are considered an income and therefore, taxable.

Another consideration for students when deciding how to use scholarship money is the degree they are working towards. Some scholarships are for a bachelor’s degree only or graduate degree only. Some scholarships require proof of the program to which the student is enrolled to ensure it is a specific degree program or course of study. Some scholarships also require a specific GPA and request proof of grades either with a transcript, or a record of the grade.