Finding College Scholarships



How Do You Find College Scholarships?

College scholarships are a blessing for many applicants.  A scholarship will often be disseminated based upon merit, skills, traits, and abilities.  Best of all – they do not need to be repaid unlike student loans.

The key: finding the right scholarships for you.

A college-based scholarship, akin to college-based grants and tuition waivers, falls under the heading of gift-aid.  Like other forms of gift-aid, a scholarship does not need to be repaid and funds can be allocated toward qualifying educational expenses.

The reality is this - a scholarship can be created by a sponsor organization for a variety of reasons.

It is incumbent upon you to find the right scholarships for you and to deftly navigate the application process.  The sponsor organization will employ a committee to review applications and they will need to believe you are the best candidate for the scholarship at hand.

What are the Different Types of College Scholarships?

Rest assured, there are plenty of different types of scholarships available to research.  While the federal government offers scholarships as part of their financial aid offerings for college students, the number of applicants is higher per award making it harder to secure additional gift aid.  Colleges and universities will offer an array of scholarships from their foundations or endowment programs.  The best way to learn more about these school-specific institutional awards is to work directly with the school’s financial aid office.

Next, there are a vast pool of private scholarships available to research.  A private scholarship is offered by an outside entity (private organization, non-profit, individual, corporation, private foundation, etc.) to help offset the cost of higher education expenses.

Another type of college scholarship is based in a contest or competition.  A scholarship contest is underwritten by a private corporation or private organization to help benefit higher education and bolster their respective brand(s).  When researching scholarship contest, make sure to perform you due diligence and avoid scholarship scams.  Read more about how to avoid scholarship scams here.  Do not apply for any college scholarships that require upfront funds.

The Best Way to Find College Scholarships

Virtually every student attending a college, university, community college, trade school, vocational college, online college, 2-year college- 4-year college, or graduate school can benefit from earning scholarship money.  Using the FAFSA vernacular, you can benefit from scholarships when the overall cost of attendance (COA) exceeds your expected family contribution (EFC).

To begin your college scholarship search, make sure to focus on you.  It may sound overly simple, but so many students flounder in the sea of scholarship options trying to imitate others versus focusing on themselves.  Perform a deep analysis of what you are good at, personal strengths, experience, areas of interest, unique characteristics, and attributes that make you unique from all others.  With this list in hand, you will be better prepared to begin compiling a quality list of scholarships for your higher education.

In addition to searching for billions of dollars in scholarships, make sure to leverage your existing relationships.  These relationships will include your teachers, professors, counselors, coaches, community leaders, admissions officers, financial aid office, foundations, civic groups, religious organizations, and work affiliations.

College Scholarships: The Bottom Line

Nuts and bolts. A college scholarship can pay for qualifying, billable costs associated with your higher education such as room, board, tuition, and fees.  With many scholarships, you can also earmark funds for non-billable college costs such as books and travel but make sure to read the fine-print.

Honesty is the best policy.  When completing any college scholarship, make sure to communicate effectively and authentically about yourself.  Scholarship sponsors appreciate professionalism and genuine students applying for award money.  Think of it this way: by awarding you a scholarship, the sponsor organization is endorsing you and expecting you to represent their values accordingly.

Terms and Conditions.  Since every scholarship can be different, make sure to read their guidelines carefully.  You may only qualify for a scholarship one year with one type of scholarship, yet with another you may have access to the same scholarship every year you are in college.

We cannot overstate the importance of investing time to research quality scholarship opportunities to help pay for your higher education.  Invest the time to research and diligently complete the applicable scholarship applications before their prescribed deadlines.  For additional resources, make sure to visit MatchCollege and subscribe to our blog for the latest in college information.

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