The first step towards winning a scholarship is to apply for it. It is often said that one should apply early and apply often. Missing a deadline and applying late will send your application to the bottom of the pile. Everyone you ask will have his or her own pointers for a good scholarship application. You will get a range of advice like what extra-curricular activities to choose to which words to use to highlight your scholarship application form. But the question is how to put it all together?
You should be assured that the scholarship rewards the applicants who put forth the best effort. Scholarship judges easily recognize poorly composed applications. The financial assistance you get through scholarships is beneficial even if you don’t receive an award for every scholarship you apply for. Most students earn a scholarship for two reasons:
- They meet the criteria specified by the sponsor.
- The applicants are selective in the pursuit of scholarship opportunities and approach the application process in a strategic manner.
Finding a Scholarship
Information about scholarships is readily available to anyone who is interested in applying for one. However, the best ways to gather accurate information about scholarships is through your school’s financial aid office, visiting a public library, or doing research online. Keep in mind that some “resources” will try to scam you and require a payment in order to retrieve information. This is never legitimate so be mindful in order to avoid being financially compromised.
Aside from what was already mentioned, Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, recommends the following for finding free information about scholarships:
- A high school or TRIO counselor
- The U.S Department of Labor’s FREE scholarship search tool
- Federal agencies
- Your state grant agency
- A public library’s reference section
- Foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups
- Organizations related to your field of study
- Ethnicity-based organizations
- Your employer or your parent’s employers
Determine the Type of Scholarships Available
Since scholarships vary by criteria, it is important to determine what types of scholarships are available while you’re preparing your financial aid applications and planning out how you will pay your tuition. According to Federal Student Aid, scholarships are typically geared towards meeting the standards of specific merits, target demographics or economic need.
For instance, merit-based scholarships are designed for students who have attained a certain level of academic achievement, or encompass a combination of academic achievements and a unique trait, interest or talent. Conversely, scholarships are also available for people who adhere to specific demographics such as military families, minority groups, women, high school seniors, etc.
Regardless of what it is designed to cover, scholarships can either cover the cost of your tuition or offer a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a one-time basis. As long as you meet the criteria of a scholarship, it is certainly worth applying for, providing you the opportunity to reduce the costs of your collegiate education.
How to Choose
Choosing a scholarship is actually less complicated than you think, . Focus your attention on applicable awards and eliminate others where you don’t specifically meet the criteria. After conducting thorough research, assess each individual opportunity by considering the deadline of the scholarship, how long the application process will take, and the amount of the award.
If you’re still having trouble at this point, it’s recommended to prioritize your opportunities by analyzing which awards will yield the biggest returns. One of the best ways to assess your options is to create a rating system based on the aforesaid considerations. If the information in front of you isn’t enough to make a decision, it’s best to contact your school’s financial aid office or the entity that is supplying the scholarship to get extra clarification.
When and How to Apply
Once you have a feasible and short application list, start planning your scholarship application timeline in order to meet each scholarship’s deadline. It’s important to keep track of this information as each scholarship’s requirements vary.
For instance, some scholarships require prospective students to submit their application a year before college begins. Therefore, it’s wise to start doing your research during your junior and senior years of high school. If you’re applying for graduate degree scholarships, you should also give yourself at least a year to conduct research and prepare applications.
To ensure you don’t miss any criteria within your scholarship applications, refer to each scholarship’s website to collect information on qualifications and how to apply. Read the application over a few times, fill it out completely, and double-check your work to meet the application deadline!
The Distribution of Scholarship Money
Scholarship money is distributed in one of two ways. More often than not, it’s common for the money to go directly to the college you plan to attend, so that it can be applied directly to your tuition, fees, remaining amount you owe, and the leftover amount, which can be given to you. If not, the scholarship will be sent to you as a check, where you will be provided with specific directions on how to use this money.
Scholarships and other Student Aid
Don’t let the fact that you need financial aid deter you from applying for a scholarship. If accepted, colleges will apply both forms of payment to your tuition. However, a scholarship will affect the amount of money you receive from other forms of financial aid, as the sum of your student aid cannot exceed the cost attendance at your college or career school.
If you are awarded a scholarship, it is your responsibility to let your school know in order to decrease the amount of other forms of aid that you may have been offered. Essentially, financial aid will cover the costs that your scholarship doesn’t cover.
Scholarships at FNU
FNU offers a plethora of scholarships for current students, where some are geared towards specific programs and demographics. Each scholarship has its own requirements and application deadlines. For more information, please visit www.fnu.edu/current-students/financial-aid/scholarship-opportunities or call Jose Alonso at 305-821-3333 x1067.
About the Author
Mr. Jose Alonso is the Social Media/Marketing Specialist for Florida National University (FNU). Mr. Alonso creates, aggregates and generates content for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and other social media networks. He monitors and measures performance of the social media sites to see which ones are the most effective in promoting the University’s mission objectives.
In addition to his social media duties, Mr. Alonso works with an online marketing agency to promote the university via SEO, SEM and PPC. Also, Mr. Alonso oversees FNU’s TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising efforts. Recently, Mr. Alonso was tasked with developing the name for FNU’s men’s college basketball team. After researching for a name that captured the University’s Spanish heritage as well as the local community’s history, Mr. Alonso came up with “Conquistadors”. The FNU community voted upon this name, with a few others. “Conquistadors” won with more than 40% of the votes. Mr. Alonso has been featured in online periodicals such as Salon and Haggard and Halloo.
Financial Aid. (2013). Retrieved from: https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarship-application-
Scholarships. (2013). Retrieved from: https://www.scholarships.com/
Find and apply for as many scholarships as you can—it’s free money for college or career school! (2014). Retrieved from http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/grants-scholarships/finding-scholarships