Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students find themselves on an extended “break” from classes. This might have seemed like a great thing a few months ago, but now the reality of the pandemic’s far-reaching impacts are becoming starkly clear. Worried students are suddenly realizing that the financial picture for their family has changed dramatically, and could affect their ability to pay for college.
Students already in college should contact their schools about their financial aid package. Graduating high school seniors should contact the financial aid office immediately if their financial picture has changed. And rising high school seniors will have to take this new reality into consideration during their college search.
But the one thing all students can do is take a much more disciplined approach to their search for scholarships outside those offered by their college. These forms of “extra” money could provide the necessary lifeline to make a difference in your ability to attend college this fall. Just like your college search, though, the search for scholarships should be organized and directed. Here are some tips to get you organized:
• Outline the Possibilities: Think about the many ways you might meet scholarship criteria. This could be based on your abilities, geographic location, intended career, or other qualities. List these out so you can search by scholarships related to each category.
• Create a Master List: Start searching for scholarships in every way possible. Certainly you will want to conduct an online search, but don’t forget to look for local and state opportunities as well. Ask your parents and friends to think of possibilities for you, and look at trade associations around your field of study. Then take the scholarships you have identified as possibilities, and create a master list.
• Organize the Scholarship Details: For each scholarship, list out pertinent application details. You’ll need to keep track of deadlines, scholarship amounts, and application requirements. Try to create a scoring system where you can balance the amount of effort required to apply against the reward of receiving this scholarship.
• Start Completing Requirements: Read each application carefully to determine exactly what you need to do to apply, and then start completing those tasks. Some may require letters of recommendation, which could take some time to acquire. Others may need an essay or video from you. As you complete components, keep them organized so you can refer to them as needed for other applications.
• Don’t Let Communications Get Lost: Consider having a separate way of making contact just for scholarships, and check this outlet every day. This will make sure you don’t miss any important updates or questions from scholarship sponsors.
New scholarships become available all the time. Make good use of COVID “break” opportunities and put an all-out effort on looking for scholarships. Beginning in June, we will also offer a three month CFAA Scholarship Program to help students and their families locate appropriate scholarship opportunities and coordinate the scholarship application process.