• Top Tips on getting Scholarships


    scholarshipsScholarships are free money awarded to students that demonstrate outstanding academic, athletic or artistic ability. They are offered by colleges, universities, private corporations and other organizations. Competition for this free money is high.
    Students must have the highest grades and excellent ACT or SAT scores, they must also convince the benefactors why they deserve a scholarship. In other words, they demonstrate what differentiate themselves from other candidates.
    Here are some helpful tips on how to search for the right scholarship for you student, how to get through the application process, how to increase your chances of being selected, and what mistakes to avoid along the way.
    Plan Ahead

    1.   Planning ahead is an important key to your scholarship search. Searching and applying for scholarships takes time. Don’t wait until the last minute.

    2.   Prepare for deadlines. There are deadlines on applications. In addition, there are often stipulations on required courses or other activities that must be completed in order to apply.
    When to Begin

    3.   Don’t wait until your senior year this is a sure way to lose out.

    4.   The best time to begin thinking and planning ahead is the sophomore or junior year in high school.
    Where to Begin
    5.   Know what kind of scholarship you’re looking for – this will narrow the search.

    6.   Scholarships are academic, athletic or artistic know which one is right for you.

    7.   General scholarships the competition will be keener on scholarships open to all students.

    8.   Subject specific scholarships scholarships for specific fields of study like accounting, math,  
        medicine and law will narrow the playing field and should be included in your search.
    High School Resources

    9.   Advisors are excellent sources of information on where to to begin looking for scholarships.

    10.   Guidance offices receive information regularly from colleges offering scholarships.

    11.   High school career counselors are familiar with the application process and other requirements
          and can guide you through this seemingly overwhelming task .

    12.   Your high school can also put you in touch with other scholarship resources. They know where
           to look.
    Local Resources

    13.   Look for local corporations and other organizations that are well known for giving away free

    14.   Begin with the companies where your parents work. Many companies offer scholarships for
           children of employees.

    15.   Check out local chapters of national organizations such as American Legion, Boy Scouts of
          America, Police and Firefighters Association, National Guard, NAACP, Knights of Columbus,  
          Jaycees, Rotary, Lions, VFW and Elks, and contact them for more information.

    Federal Government Resources

    16.   The Pell Grant currently awards up to $5,550 depending on financial need, cost of college, and
           student’s ability to contribute. Like scholarships, the Pell Grant does not need to be repaid.

    17.   Students who are in exceptional financial need can not only receive the Pell Grant but also the
           Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) which can pay an additional
           $100 – $4,000 per year and also does not require repayment. More information is available at

    State Government Resources

    18.   Look at state government web sites. States often give financial assistance in the form of grants as
           well as scholarships.

    19.   Merit scholarships are often available from states for students who have attained a high academic

    20.   Most states offer scholarships for minorities.

    21.   State governments often give scholarships to students enrolling in workforce shortage fields such
           as teaching, nursing, technology, math or science.

    22.   Each state has its own criteria for offering financial assistance. Determine what you may be
           eligible for and search the state government web site for more information.

    23.  A complete list of scholarships by state can be found at www.ed.gov.

    Local Government Resources

    24.   Resources for college scholarships at the local government level are very limited.

    25.   Search your city government’s web site for scholarship information or call the mayor’s office or 
           local chamber of commerce.

    Corporate Resources

    26.   Large Fortune 500 companies are excellent sources of scholarship money. They have deep
          pockets to help students pay for college.

    27.   The top ten list includes Wal-Mart, AT&T, Ford, General Motors, United Health, State Farm,
           Microsoft, Dell, Lowe’s and Best Buy.

    28.   Also check out soft drink companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, pharmaceutical companies like
           Pfizer, banks such as Chase, and even food chains like KFC.

    29.   Search by state or by type at www.collegescholarships.org.

    30.   Make a list of smaller local companies who might also have a reputation of offering scholarships
           to local citizens.

    Internet Resources

    31.   The Internet has made scholarship research much easier and quicker. Key word searches will
           result in a wealth of information. Search by state or by subject.

    32.   Look at free online databases such as College Board’s Scholarship Search, Fastweb, 
          collegenet.com and Peterson’s College Search where you can search for literally hundreds of

    33.   Don’t forget to use social resources like Facebook and Twitter to ask others for scholarship

    Scholarship Books

    34.   Scholarship Handbook, available to order on College Board’s web site, is one of most popular
           books on available scholarships. It contains more than 2000 scholarships, loans and internship

    35.   Amazon lists several books on scholarships that can be ordered for just $10 to $20. They include

    36.   Check your local library or high school guidance office for these and other books that are

    37.   The number of eBooks has also increased and represents an easy way for students to do their
           research at home. It also ensures that students are receiving the latest information.

    Other Resources

    38.   National resources for scholarships should also be investigated. These types of scholarships are
           usually designed to encourage students entering specific fields of study.

    39.   The National Health Service Corps scholarship (NHCS) is awarded to students entering the
          health care field.

    40.   The National Merit Scholarship program is open to all students. Students taking the Pre-SAT
           (PSAT) test in high school will be nominated based on their scores to become Semifinalists and
           then advance to Finalists. They are free to choose any college or career path.

    Prepare a Resource List

    41.  Create a spreadsheet and list scholarships by category. Include names, addresses, telephone
           numbers and web site links. At this point, the objective is to create a list of possibilities that
           should total 50-100 potential resources.

    42. You want to have plenty of resources to work with initially. Once you begin to examine and
          compare requirements, the list may be purged to best fit your needs.

    Keep Track of Scholarship Information and Deadlines

    43.  Missing deadlines is simply not an option when it comes to applying for scholarships. Stay  
          organized by noting important deadlines on your spreadsheet, such as when the application needs
          to be there.

    44.   Include details on application requirements, scholarship amount, how and where to apply.

    45.   Keeping this information in a spreadsheet will allow you to select a search criteria, such as by 
           deadline date, and help you stay organized and on time.
    Understand Application Requirements

    46.   Be prepared to include an essay, ACT or SAT scores, high school transcript, class rank and
           G.P.A., and up to three or more letters of recommendation.

    47.   Some requirements may include a resume, written exam to test your skills, a project to complete 
           to evaluate your competence, financial information and proof of U.S. citizenship.

    48.   Read instructions and follow them carefully. Failure to supply the correct information or missing
           the deadline will disqualify you and end your chances for a scholarship.

    Cover Letter

    49.   Unless the requirements specifically say no, plan to include a cover letter with the application.

    50.   Address the letter to the Scholarship Committee and begin with Dear Committee Members.

    51.   Briefly state how the scholarship will help you.

    52.   Thank them for considering you for the scholarship.


    53.   Your resume should look professional and list information related to the purpose of the

    54.   Open with a brief statement about your college major and career goals.

    55.   List honors and awards you have earned.

    56.   Include high school and community activities and work experience. Be specific.

    57.   Add personal interests at the bottom, especially those related to the scholarship.

    Application Processes

    58.   Read and follow instructions. It is definitely not one size fits all when it comes to applications.

    59.   Pay attention to how to submit (mail or electronic), what materials must be included, and what
          the deadline is.

    60.   If mail submission is indicated, send your materials by certified mail to ensure it arrives on time.

    61.   If electronic submission is noted, make sure of the limitation on number of files allows and file
           sizes, as well as format, such as Word, PDF, or text documents.

    Completing the Scholarship Application

    62.   The most important thing to remember is to read the application thoroughly and follow all

    63.  Pay close attention to essay questions and answer them completely and thoroughly. Don’t miss
          any questions or your application may be denied.

    64.   Find out how many letters of recommendation you will need. Is a cover letter required? Do you
           need a resume?

    65.   Don’t rush the application process and choose a quiet place where there are no distractions. This
           will ensure your thoughts are clear and focused. Be prepared to write a convincing explanation as
           to why you are an excellent candidate for the scholarship.

    66.   Allow plenty of time for proofreading. There is no room for error.

    Mistakes to Avoid in Completing an Application

    67.  Some of the most common mistakes in completing a scholarship application include: submitting
           past the deadline, not following instructions, omitting necessary documents, missing a question,
           and spelling and grammar errors. Think of the application process like applying for a job. You
           want to put your best foot forward. Pay attention to every detail in order to present yourself as
           the best candidate.

    How to Write a Scholarship Essay

    68.   Review the purpose of the scholarship. Understand the background of the college or organization
           offering the scholarship. Your essay should coincide with their purpose and goals.

    69.   Select one or two examples of your accomplishments and provide details that will give them a
            clear picture of who you are. For example, if you’re applying for a scholarship in social services,
            tell them about your experience volunteering to build homes for Habitat for Humanity. Other
            experiences and accomplishments can be listed on your resume, but select your key
            accomplishments to tell a compelling story.

    Mistakes to Avoid in Writing a Scholarship Essay

    70.   Collect your thoughts and don’t wander or talk in circles. Choose a theme that matches the
          purpose of the scholarship. Make an outline first, listing important facts you want to include.

    71.   Don’t rush the essay. Take the time to write an attention-grabbing introduction, interesting        content, and a solid conclusion that includes what you learned from this experience and how it
           will help your career.

    72.   Choose a good title that does justice to your story but also aligns with the purpose of the  

    73.   It is extremely important that the essay sound professional, so good grammar, spelling,
          punctuation and sentence structure are a must. Avoid slang. Call things as they truly are in the
          interest of clear communication to your audience.

    Ask Others to Critique Your Essay

    74.   Proofread, proofread, proofread everything before you send it. This means not only using spell
           check but also giving your draft to teachers, counselors and friends to proofread for grammar,
          punctuation, flow and how well it answers essay questions.

    75.   Do as many drafts as necessary to produce your best work. The essay should clearly articulate
          what you have accomplished and in what ways you are an excellent recipient for the scholarship.
         There is no room for errors and you only get one shot at it, so take the time to do it well. Your
         efforts will be noticed.

    Letters of Recommendation

    76.   Letters of recommendation are meant to support your application by reinforcing your
          capabilities. They are powerful tools because they provide a testimonial from someone who has
          had personal experience and first-hand interaction with you.

    77.   Letters of recommendation should come from people who know you on a professional level. This
          could include teachers who know what kind of student you are, counselors who have worked with
          you on outlining your career path, current or past job supervisors and people with whom you did
          volunteer work.

    78.   Don’t ask relatives. It is impossible for family members to be objective, and these sources will
           not be taken seriously.

    79.   Use company letterhead. It not only looks professional but gives the scholarship committee
           important contact information if they have questions.

    80.   Ask a wide cross section of writers to help. Counselors, professors and former supervisors will
          highlight various capabilities and provide the scholarship committee a wider perspective on you.

    81.   Encourage the writers to be specific. They need to describe exactly what you did, what strengths
          were demonstrated and how this makes you a strong candidate for the scholarship.

    82.   Give the writers plenty of time. Plan on four weeks or more if necessary and make sure they
           know what the deadline is.

    83.   Send each writer a nice thank you note to show your appreciation. Offer to keep them informed
           on your progress.

    A Competitive Approach to Scholarship Searching

    84.   Use a strategy that includes searching for broad scholarships available for all students as well as
           subject specific scholarships, and scholarships for minorities.

    85.   Don’t just go for the big bucks. The larger the scholarship, the more competition there will be and
           the tougher it will be to win. Many smaller scholarships can add up to more money for school, so
          don’t overlook them.

    Follow Up After Applying

    86.   It is always a good idea to follow up after sending your application materials to confirm they
           were received. Things can go wrong with the mail, and electronic submission also has its
           glitches. So certainly call or email to make sure it arrived.

    87.   Plan to send application materials far enough in advance to allow for a second submission, if
           necessary, to avoid missing the deadline. When calling, you may also ask when they plan to
           announce the winners.

    Send a Thank You Note After Receiving a Scholarship Award

    88.   After receiving notification of a scholarship award, a thank you letter should be sent immediately
           to the benefactor. No emails or phone calls. This should be done in a handwritten note on nice

    89.   Proofread several times and check for accuracy on spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Use the
           same attention to detail as when you were applying for the scholarship.

    90.   The letter should be addressed to the president or highest ranking person such as the executive
           director. Explain what the scholarship means to you personally and how it will benefit you. Then
           thank them again.

    How to Get Scholarships Renewed

    91.   Read the renewal clauses of each scholarship being considered before applying to ensure you are
           able to meet the requirements. If you don’t see a clause or don’t understand it, call the college
          financial aid office and ask them for help.

    92.   Academic scholarships will require students to maintain a specific G.P.A. If they fall below, they
          may lose out on the scholarship.

    93.   Some scholarships will automatically renew if all qualifications are met, and others may require
           students to re-apply.

    94.    Scholarships that are subject specific will not allow students to change majors or they will forfeit
           scholarship money. Scholarships from a particular college or university would require that a
           student remain at that institution in order to get the scholarship money.

    95.   Athletic scholarships require playing the sport. Be sure you understand the consequences for not
           playing due to injury or poor academic performance.

    Watch Out for Scholarship Scams
    96.  Real scholarships will never ask for money, credit card information or guarantee a scholarship.
           Also beware of companies who charge for their databases and offer to complete your application,
          essays and letters of recommendation for a fee.

    97.  If a company contacts you and says you’ve won a scholarship for which you never applied, its a
           hoax. If the company does not have a web site or phone number to contact them, it is probably a
           scam. Legitimate organizations will most likely have a history of giving and press releases on
           their web site relating to past scholarships awarded.

    What does scholarship money cover?

    98.   Most scholarships pay for tuition and fees. A full scholarship will cover most all expenses,
           including tuition, room and board, books and some even offer a living stipend as well.

    99.  Other scholarship expenses that can be covered include lab fees, course supplies, and waivers on
          the application fee. Be sure to read scholarship information carefully to understand what is
          included before you apply.

    How Many Scholarships are Allowed?

    100.  Scholarship money is one part of a financial aid package which could also include grants. As
             long as the scholarship money does not exceed the total cost of college expenses, there is no
             limit on how many you can receive.
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