When high school seniors finally work through the arduous tasks of completing college applications and submitting financial aid applications, it can seem like time comes to a screeching stop. With months of hectic activity behind you, it might feel like there is suddenly nothing left to do as you wait for communication updates from your colleges. The one thing you can focus on now, however, is the search for scholarships to help pay those college expenses in case your financial aid awards are not quite as robust as you had hoped.
Applying for scholarships is an opportunity game. You want to check the eligibility requirements closely, follow directions carefully, and get your application in before the deadline so it isn’t a wasted effort. But, most of all, you don’t want to waste your time (or money) on seedy scholarship opportunities. Here are some tips that will help keep your scholarship search focused on great opportunities:
- Beware of Fees: With very few exceptions, you should not have to pay a fee to apply for or redeem a scholarship. Even if there is a guarantee that you will “get a scholarship or get your money back,” there can be limitations on that guarantee, or it might just be an outright fraud.
- Scholarship Lists are Not Secret: Some come-ons might try to convince you that they have access to “secret” scholarship lists, but this is simply not true. Scholarship information is readily available, but it does take a bit of searching on your part to find opportunities that are just right for you.
- Don’t Believe That They Can “Hold Your Scholarship”: There are two ways to win a scholarship. You can meet the requirements and outpace your competition, or you can become lucky in a scholarship drawing that has no eligibility requirements. But, there is really no way someone can “hold” a scholarship for you. This is usually a ruse to get your credit card or bank information.
- You Still Have to Do Some Work: Although there are ways to make the search easier and more organized, you still have to do the work of completing the application or meeting the requirements. You should be suspicious of unsolicited scholarships or anything that claims to “do all the work.”
- They Should Not Put Pressure on You: You might be pressed to apply because the scholarship will go “unclaimed,” but most scholarships have plenty of applicants. Most are from corporations who want to promote their public image, or philanthropic organizations that want to support the community. Your only pressure should be to make sure you fit the criteria and apply by the deadline.
There are enough great scholarship opportunities out there that you should never have to fall for a scam. If you are not sure where to start, the three-month CFAA Scholarship Program can help you locate scholarship opportunities that are personalized to your background and capabilities, and we will help focus your efforts on legitimate opportunities.