To some students and parents, the word "scholarship" is
just another one of those confusing college terms: student
loans, FAFSA, tuition and fees, EFC, grants, and work study.
Little do they realize that knowing more about the scholarship
process could save them thousands of dollars when trying to
cover the cost of their education.
What are scholarships?
Scholarships come in a variety of forms, but are generally
considered to be "free money" for college. Unlike loans, scholarships
do not have to be repaid to the scholarship provider. Some
scholarships are awarded directly to the student in the form
of a check, while other scholarships are written out to the
student's college or university. Several different types of
providers issue scholarships: clubs and organizations, charitable
foundations, businesses, schools, universities, government
agencies, and others.
Who can get scholarships?
It is a common misconception that scholarships are only for
straight-A students. In reality, there are all types of scholarships
for all types of students, including those with less than
perfect academic records. Some scholarships are for athletes;
others are for students planning to study in particular fields;
and others for community service. Some scholarship providers
just want to reward students for living in a certain city
or state! Students also mistakenly believe that only college-bound
high school seniors can apply for awards. Scholarships are
available for all levels of college study, from freshman undergrads
to graduate and PhD students.
How do students find scholarships?
Finding scholarships can be a very time-consuming process,
but not if students use a reputable and accurate scholarship
search service on the Internet. There are several online
resources for finding scholarships for college. Students can
also ask their high school guidance counselors about any local
or state awards that they qualify for. Students should contact
the financial aid office at the college or university they
plan to attend to learn if they qualify for any awards provided
by the school.
When should students look for scholarships?
Scholarship application deadlines vary greatly. There
are thousands of scholarship programs with spring and summer
deadlines, and thousands more with fall and winter deadlines.
The key is to never stop searching for new scholarship leads,
even after beginning the freshman year in college. A good
rule of thumb is to continue searching for scholarships for
the duration of the college career.