Getting a scholarship is not an easy task today. Thousands of students try to obtain this much needed help to complete college education but only a limited number succeeds because the volume of help is also limited. According to Debt.org, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimated that $46 million in grants and scholarship was used by approximately 1.8 million students in 2012.
Even though so much help is given out, not every student has the opportunity or knowledge on how to get it. As the result, the student debt in the U.S. is enormous and more than half of all college students graduate with significant debt. This financial burden may present a lot of challenges after graduation, so it is important to explore all options and take advantage of available scholarships to protect financial future.
What are my options?
Let’s review what is available for you. Every year, a lot of financial resources is given out to the students, both private and federal. There are some important differences between them and it is highly recommended to consider federal loans first because they offer more benefits not typically provided by private loans, plus the latter are more expensive.
There are a lot of tools that allow you to learn about available scholarships but we need to make sure that they are legitimate and offer real funds. Below is the list of reliable sources of scholarships you can try:
- FREE scholarship search tool designed by the U.S. Department of Labor
- Religious or community organizations and foundations
- Federal agencies
- Ethnicity-based organizations
- Foundations and organizations related to a particular field
- Your employer (see example here)
- Financial aid office at college
- Grant agency at your state
When and how do I apply for them?
Every organization that gives out a scholarship provides a deadline by which it expires, so staying updated is important. Just visit the website of a scholarship that interests you and review all necessary information related to the deadline. In some cases, the deadlines are set as early as a year before the school year starts while in other cases it can start much later. Missing the opportunity to apply for as much scholarships as possible is not an option, so start your research while you are still in high school.
Every scholarship comes with a set of requirements. The website of the organization that gives it out will have all information related to the criteria that you need to meet to apply for the aid. Make sure you understand all requirements before applying and fill everything out to provide all mandatory information.