The best words that any college student can hear are that they got a scholarship. Scholarships are worth their weight in gold for students. They’re someone else’s money and you don’t have to pay them back. College scholarships are a wonderful supplement to federal, state and institutional financial aid that you may receive. Scholarships exist in a variety of places – and for a variety of abilities, situations, careers, and experiences. The trickiest part about them is figuring out where to look for scholarships and knowing when to apply for them!
Here’s a few things to know as you start your search for scholarships!
Who are scholarships for?
While most people associate scholarships with college, there are scholarships available for students of all ages. Surprisingly, there are scholarships available for elementary and middle school students (for impressive amounts!). Other funds prioritize college students but there are also options for adults attending graduate school or going back to college later in life. So, in short, scholarships are for everyone! The most common scholarships are those sought by high school seniors as part of their college admissions process.
When do I look for scholarships?
There is usually a mad dash to complete the FAFSA, apply to college, and search for scholarships in the late fall to early winter of a student’s senior year, and then there is no activity afterwards. But, the truth is that this can severely limit the student’s potential to earn substantial scholarship money. Many quality scholarships are available with later deadlines, and there are even some which are only available after a student is already enrolled in college. Read more about why it’s important to continue your scholarship search all year long – and throughout your college career.
How do I apply for and receive scholarships?
In some cases, colleges simply grant scholarships to deserving students based on their FAFSA information as part of the financial aid package, but there is usually an application process for the rest. The best way to maximize the likelihood of receiving more scholarships is to begin the search as early as possible (even in junior year!). Keep track of the possible scholarships you want to apply for so that as your application process for college gets more involved, you don’t forget about these potential money options! Most scholarships are available on a yearly basis, so you should be able to generate a solid list of those which apply to you.
Get creative in your search process! Ask everyone you know. This is much easier to do with the benefit of time on your hands, which is another reason to start as early as possible. Then conduct some research online looking for scholarship opportunities. If that research feels overwhelming, consider our Personalized Scholarship Process.
Don’t forget to look for scholarships in unusual areas that meet your interests, too. You might be surprised to know that there are scholarships for gamers, creating a prom dress out of Duck Tape, duck calling, amateur radio enthusiasts, and even one for tall students. Chances are there is a scholarship out there with your name on it – you just have to find it!
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CFAA helps with the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college.