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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 on our latest article.  Quick tip: do not apply for any college scholarships that require upfront fees.

The Best Way to Find College Scholarships

Every college student can benefit from earning scholarship money.  Students working towards a diploma and graduate students can all benefit from a scholarship to curb costs.  Scholarships can help new and returning students at a variety of schools that include a private college, community college, public university, technical college, trade school, vocational college, 2-year college, beauty school, online college, 4-year college, career school, or graduate school.

Utilizing federal financial aid terminology, students can benefit from a college scholarship when COA > EFC.  In layman's terms, the FAFSA vernacular dictates a mathematical formula for calculating student aid.  To translate the formula, you can benefit from a grant or scholarship when your cost of attending a college (COA) is greater than your expected family contribution (EFC).

How to Start the Scholarship Search

Start your scholarship search by focusing on you.  Finding the biggest college scholarship may not be in your best interest if you do not fit the application parameters.  In fact, you may be best served to complete a handful of application for smaller scholarships rather than two large scholarships.

Focusing on you may seem oversimplified but it works.  We hear far too many stories about parents and students floundering in a vast ocean of scholarship options.  Do not attempt to imitate others applying for scholarships at the expense of not focusing on you.  So what does this look like in practical terms?

Focusing on your starts by performing a deep analysis of  your personal strengths, experience, areas of interest, unique characteristics, personal attributes, and academic areas of interest.  Scholarship committee members look for unique attributes not conformity with others on a scholarship application.  As such, you will want to stand out and illuminate your uniqueness to earn scholarships for college.

The Importance of Your Network

While searching college websites and reputable sites for college scholarships, make sure to leverage your network.  Your existing relationships are a strong ally in your ability to find and earn scholarship monies.  Consider tapping your network for input, advice, and insights into college scholarships.

Members of your network can include professors, family members, teachers, coaches, community leaders, managers, counselors, financial aid officers, foundations, work affiliations, peers, and other contacts.  Any number of your contacts can have key insights into scholarships that may prove to be a treasure trove.

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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