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.
Are there are tips that you can give me?
Of course. There are a number of strategies that you can use to improve your chances to get the dream scholarship. Let’s review some of them.
1. Look for essay contests
Many students ignore the possibility to receive a scholarship that is offered by essay contests. There are a lot of them out there and they are a great chance to win the aid by using your writing talent. Brian from Proessaywriting told us that he won a $2,000 scholarship by entering CIArb Australia Essay Competition several years ago and was able to fund his education for a long time. Why don’t you try the same?
2. Look for community scholarships
Without a doubt, there are a number of religious or community non-profit organizations that are ready to provide you with scholarships. For example, the Community Foundation of Frederick County, Maryland has been giving out scholarships for more than twenty years and now manages 250 funds. Greater Kansas City Community Foundation also has hundreds (literally) of options for local graduates to explore. Make sure you check out what is offered in your own community. And one more thing: community scholarships are much easier to win because of fewer participants, so your chances are greater in this case.
3. Look for employers that provide scholarships
Today, many employers offer scholarships for their employees, including the well-known Coca-Cola, Google, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s. For example, Coca-Cola Foundation has helped more than 5,500 students since 1989 and continues this great action. Every year, 50 students receive a $20,000 in National Scholars award while 200 other get $10,000 in Regional Scholars Scholarship. Similar opportunities are provided by smaller companies as well, so check this opportunity with your employer or apply to the one that already provides it.
For you and many other students, scholarships are important because they help to avoid the debt trap and study comfortably. As described in this article, there are many options out there and we strongly recommend you to explore as many opportunities as you can. Many students are looking for them too, so be one of the first and successful.