9 things you need to know about scholarships

moneyYou can’t win the lottery if you don’t play, and you won’t get any scholarships if you don’t apply. The good news is that you have a much better chance of getting scholarships than winning the lottery. You could receive enough money to cover all of your expenses and more. A girl at my school received so many scholarships that she actually had money left over after paying for tuition and room and board. They ended up buying her a new laptop with the extra money.


Scholarships can be as little as $50 and as much as full tuition. You can find tons of databases online and you might be able to find some through your school, your parents, or the library as well. The bottom line is the more scholarships you apply for, the more chances you have to get money for school.


Here’s what you need to know about scholarships:


There’s something for everybody. Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes. There are scholarships if you’re left-handed, overweight, gay, or interested in science. You name it there’s probably a scholarship for it. Many are need-based, but there are plenty out there if you don’t qualify for financial aid.


>>Start looking for scholarships with FastWeb scholarship search

Don’t waste time on competition scholarships. Don’t write a 10-page play for a scholarship unless you want to be a writer. How will your play win against hundreds written by students who already have play writing experience? It’s true that competition scholarships won’t have many applicants, but there are plenty of scholarships that don’t require extra work.

Some require essays as part of the application process. Don’t confuse these with essay competitions. In a competition, they will award the scholarship to the person who wrote the best essay. Regular scholarships will consider all parts of the application, not just the essay. Unless you already have an essay prepared or you’re truly interested in the topic, don’t waste your time.


>>8 essay topics to avoid

Apply for the little ones too. I know you’re probably thinking, “I’d rather get $10,000 than $100. I’m not going to waste my time applying for those little scholarships.” The reality is everyone would rather have $10,000 instead of $100. You’re more likely to get a $100 scholarship because fewer people apply to them. And if you don’t think $100 is a lot of money, think about how long it would take you to make $100. If you had a job that paid $8 an hour, it would take you 12 ½ hours to make $100. My guess is that it will take you a lot less than 12 ½ hours to apply for the scholarship.

Check out the schools you’re applying to. Colleges have their own scholarships just for people they accept. So when you apply to their school, you can apply to a scholarship opportunity as well. Some schools don’t have an open application process (meaning you tell them you’re applying to a certain scholarship). You might just find out when you receive your acceptance letter.

Continue your search offline. You will find most scholarships online, but ones you find offline will have less competition. Check your library or high school for local scholarship opportunities. Work closely with a guidance councilor because they will probably be aware of opportunities that would suit you. Also, companies sometimes have scholarships specifically for children of employees. Ask your parents if there are any scholarships available where they work.

NEVER pay to find scholarships and NEVER pay to be accepted as a scholarship applicant. Those are ALWAYS scams.

You will probably never see the scholarship money. It would be fun to have thousands of dollars in your bank account, but organizations want to make sure the money is going towards your tuition. The money will usually be sent directly to your school. Scholarships that send money to the school will most likely be deducted from your loans.

Don’t report scholarships that send you a personal check. There may be a scholarship that sends a check made out to you. Instead of reporting this money to your school, save it to buy books. Most scholarships don’t allow you to use the money for expenses other than tuition or room and board. So if you get a check directly, it’s a chance to use it for other college expenses.

Continue your search next year. Some scholarships are exclusively for students who’ve already completed a year or two of college. So make time for your scholarship search after your first year.

So go out there at get your free money!


>>8 ways to pay for college


>>8 steps to applying for financial aid