Written by: Financial Aid Sense
Financing a college education becomes more and more challenging each year with the rising cost of college tuition. Financial aid is available from the federal government, many state governments, as well as from colleges and universities. However, in addition to these sources of financial aid, another very important financing avenue is via outside scholarship searches. College bound students should always apply for financial aid each and every year by filing the FAFSA and anything else required by the college’s financial aid office. However, students should also be proactive and search for scholarships from other sources.
Student should look beyond what colleges and universities may have in terms of available scholarships and make a focused effort in obtaining outside scholarship monies. This will involve putting time into searching for additional scholarship sources, however, it can be fruitful in the end.
There are a variety of different sources of outside scholarship monies available to students and these sources of scholarships often times are closer to you than you think! Included below is an overview of scholarship providers that may have available monies to support your college financing effort.
Local Scholarships: At the majority of high schools, guidance counselors will have information available about local scholarships for graduating seniors. It is very important that students visit their guidance office to seek out scholarship opportunities that are managed at the high school level. The student should make a point of listening to the guidance department announcements, reading the guidance newsletter, checking the guidance website, and stopping by the guidance office to look at the available scholarship resources. Some local scholarships need to be applied for directly and some are awarded by the guidance department or special town committee. Generally speaking, there are a number of local scholarships available, thus checking in with the guidance department is a MUST DO activity for the high school senior.
Religious Affiliations: You may want to inquire if there are scholarships available for participating members of specific religious affiliations, if applicable. Students and/or family with a connection to a specific church or temple or that have another religious or spiritual connection should inquire about available support for college from your affiliation’s leadership.
Employers: Many employers, especially those with a large number of employees, offer scholarships for dependent children of employees. It is important to contact the employer’s Human Resource Department and inquire whether scholarship programs are available, and if so what the respective deadlines are and application procedures.
Community, Business, Civic and Membership Organizations: Many community organizations, clubs, and groups/membership organizations provide scholarships to college bound students. Check with any community organizations that you are involved with and inquire about available scholarship programs. Examples of community organizations include your local rotary club, chambers of commerce, better business bureau, elks club (or similar type of membership organizations), or other community clubs and membership organizations.
Military Scholarships: Each branch of the military offers scholarship programs of some sort. These program offerings may change often and most definitely have specific qualification requirements, procedures, guidelines, and commitment details. However, the U.S. Military is a provider of a number of scholarship programs, which some students may have an interest in. Check with a military recruiter or on the federal military website for a complete list of offerings.
Scholarship Search Databases: There are numerous scholarships available through a reputable database search. Scholarships.com is an established scholarship database that many students use to search for scholarships. This free scholarship database is a dynamic search engine and give students an opportunity to create a profile, share demographic information, and input specific academic interests and talents into the search engine. In turn, students are provided with a list of possible scholarship opportunities that match the criteria that they entered into the database. After reviewing the results, students can then decide which opportunities they realistically should pursue.
Each scholarship opportunity will require a separate application and has a set of requirements associated with the application. YES! The outside scholarship search process is time consuming, however, one that should not be overlooked. At minimum, create a profile in one of the search databases and get a sense of the various options available and then decide whether to apply for selected opportunities or not.
Students should also check out college financial aid websites for outside scholarship information. Many colleges provide information pertaining to outside scholarships and some provide helpful information on scholarships that their students have previously received. Students should also think outside of the box and research companies that work in the student’s proposed area of interest. For example, photography majors should check out Nikon and Minolta, computer science majors should check out HP and Apple, and journalism majors should check with media companies and publications…. you get the picture! Be creative and think about all the options!
Best of luck in your scholarship search! It can seem daunting at first to search for scholarships; however, it is a recommended action item. Putting the time in and applying for scholarships that seem like a logical choice based on your personal demographics and the scholarship criteria is a worthwhile exercise. Just be sure to fully complete the application requirements and submit all documents by the stated deadlines. Students should begin researching outside scholarship opportunities well in advance of receiving admission acceptance letters as many scholarship program deadlines are early! Be proactive and begin searching for scholarships in the fall of senior year at the latest.
Beware of SCAMS! You should NOT pay any company to do a scholarship search for you! Students can seek out scholarship opportunities for free from the sources that I have mentioned above in this article. Reportedly, there are SCAMS out there that will charge families to conduct a scholarship search ~ those searched do not yield any leads that you can’t get yourself for FREE.
PLEASE be wary of scams and do not pay a company (or individual) to do a search for you. By using the ideas included above, being diligent and organized, you should be able to take control of the outside scholarship search yourself! Best of luck!
There are other considerations when talking about outside scholarships as well – read our related article on this topic.
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