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How to Find and Apply for Scholarships

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Find and Apply for Scholarships

Over the years, you’ve probably heard about the importance of applying for scholarships. Who hasn’t? Yet many students let these opportunities slip by because they don’t know where to look, don’t know how to apply, or simply don’t think it will help them out. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to find and apply for scholarships as well as other tactics you can use to maximize your chances of winning one. Let’s get started!

Intro

Many students don’t know how to apply for scholarships, and even fewer are aware of all of their options. Though there’s no way to guarantee you’ll win a scholarship, if you put in the effort and follow some common-sense rules, you can greatly increase your chances. 

This guide is designed to help high school and college students navigate finding and applying for scholarships for school.

What are scholarships?

Scholarships are a common form of financial aid given to students who might otherwise not be able to attend college. College is expensive, which means scholarships are also increasingly valuable. 

For instance, in 2012-2013, an estimated $1.1 billion was awarded in scholarships each year at U.S. colleges and universities alone (and that’s just institutions that participated in the federal survey). 

However, it’s important to remember that scholarships come from a variety of sources: private organizations, government agencies, and even individuals. 

Scholarship Application Process

The application process typically consists of multiple rounds. 

You’ll need to submit an initial set of documents, which could include things like SAT scores, transcripts, resume or CV, letters of recommendation, essays, or personal statements. The number of rounds will vary based on how many applicants are vying for each scholarship. 

After submitting your materials in round one, you’ll be informed whether you make it through to round two. The application process can seem like a lot of work, but if you take a systematic approach to scholarship searching, it will be easier than you think. 

Helpful Tips

Finding scholarships can seem daunting but don’t worry, there are plenty of helpful tips to making it as easy as possible. 

We’ve broken down scholarship-searching and applying into a step-by-step process that makes finding and applying for scholarships easier than you think. 

The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of scholarships are available to you, which will depend on your major, interests, and financial situation. This is important because different types of organizations have different preferences when it comes to applicants: 

For example, if you’re interested in art or music scholarships, look at art schools or music programs; If your major is business or finance-related, check out businesses and organizations in those fields; And if your school offers academic departments like STEM (science technology engineering math) or CLAS (classics), consider looking there as well. 

The second thing you need to do is start researching all of these different places. It may seem overwhelming but don’t worry we’ve put together a list of some helpful tips that will make it easier than ever: 

-Visit your school’s financial aid office -Financial aid officers are great resources when it comes to finding scholarships because they’re often plugged into their institution’s scholarship database and can give advice on how best to apply for specific awards. 

-Find local organizations -Many times, smaller nonprofits will offer a handful of small-scale scholarships just so they can spread awareness about their mission. Searching through your city’s non-profits will often be worth it! 

-Search online -If you know what type of organization you’re looking for, searching online is a great way to find them. Some companies like Sallie Mae also provide comprehensive lists of scholarship providers that are perfect if you’re trying to apply for multiple awards at once. 

And remember, not all scholarships require essays or applications; sometimes all you need is an essay prompt and some letters of recommendation.

Apply For as Many As You Can

It may seem a little daunting but apply for as many scholarships as you can. If you find that one doesn’t pan out or isn’t a good fit, you can always move on to another. A good rule of thumb is to apply for about three scholarships per month. 

There are literally thousands of scholarships available for high school students and young adults just starting college. 

The first step is to research which ones you qualify for. The easiest way to do that is by using a free scholarship search tool like Cappex’s Scholarship Finder or Fastweb’s College Scholarships, both of which have extensive databases of scholarships that you can search by criteria like your GPA, field of study, ethnicity, etc. 

Once you find a few that seem promising, it’s time to move on to applying! Many scholarships have their own application forms. Some will ask you to write an essay or fill out a survey. Others will just require basic contact information and some proof of enrollment.

Once your application is submitted, don’t forget to follow up with an email thanking them for considering your application. Also, keep in mind that scholarship applications are often due months before they are awarded so be sure to plan ahead!

Scholarship Search Engines

There are many search engines out there that allow you to research scholarships. 

Just type the scholarship search engine into Google and you will be inundated with options. The most well-known sites are Cappex, Fastweb, Finaid, Top Tier Admissions (for MBA applicants), College Abacus, Big Future, FinAid!, and more. 

I’ve found that in order to find a lot of scholarships, I have to spend a few hours a week doing research. For example, if you are looking for scholarships specific to your major or career field, then narrow your search by adding these terms: scholarship engineering or scholarship nursing. 

If you want general aid, then just look up scholarship money. This is also where having a GPA of 3.5+ bits of help; most scholarship providers want students who have been successful academically and can afford to pay back their aid if they get it.

Free Scholarship Websites

It might seem counterintuitive, but looking through free scholarship websites is one of your best options. The downside is that there are millions of scholarships available, so you have to be careful about which ones you choose. 

When browsing free scholarship sites, look for resources that offer a lot of awards in your field. Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on these criteria, ask yourself if a specific scholarship fits with your short-term or long-term goals. 

For example, if you are interested in applying for scholarships related to STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), then browse through STEM-specific websites like The National Center for Women & Information Technology Scholarship Program or IEEE Computer Society Merit Scholarship Program.

Avoid Scams

Even though scholarships can be a great way to help cover college costs, scholarship scams have increased in recent years. 

As you go about finding scholarships that fit your needs, be sure to research scholarship programs carefully so you avoid fraud. 

Many grant scammers try to hide their true identity by posting scholarship opportunities on free blogs or via email listservs, so it’s important not only to look closely at who is offering your scholarship but also who is receiving it! 

For example, if you find a scholarship opportunity that asks you to pay an application fee upfront, chances are it’s a scam. Be sure to check out our guide on avoiding scholarship scams here.

Other Ways To Apply For Scholarships

There are other ways to apply for scholarships, such as through community groups or through some universities. 

To find these opportunities, check with your local business organizations (Chamber of Commerce) or local charities. You may also be able to find scholarships through your school’s financial aid office. 

For larger amounts of money, try researching independent scholarship foundations that award funds directly from their endowment funds. For example, there are a number of organizations whose mission is to help fund college education by offering scholarships.

Conclusion

The key to finding and applying for scholarships is to take a methodical approach. Do your research and identify what you are passionate about you’ll get more enjoyment out of studying that way, anyway. 

Keep track of all deadlines, and make sure your application materials are well organized and free of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. If it makes sense to apply early (most do), don’t hesitate to do so.

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