Tips on Seeking Scholarships
Competition for scholarships has increased due to the rise in tuition and educational costs. Identifying scholarship resources can be a challenge. With persistence, hard work, and planning ahead, you can succeed in finding a scholarship just right for your needs. Here is some advice to help you get started.
Step 1: File FAFSA
File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) immediately and do so every year. The FAFSA is available online starting in January each year. Many students make the mistake of not completing this form because they feel they will not qualify for free aid and later find out that many scholarships require this form to be completed. Students may find that they do qualify for other scholarships available to them if they had completed the FAFSA.
Step 2: Begin the Search Process Early
A good rule of thumb is to start at least one year before you think you will need financial assistance. Allow enough time to complete the necessary steps, which may include getting references.
Step 3: Get Organized
Use a calendar to determine when you began your search and try to keep track of deadlines. Obtain a copy of your academic transcripts and other financial records you may be required to submit. Keep copies of everything you submit in a filling folder, box, or cabinet in case the scholarship program looses part of all of your application.
Step 4: Determine your Needs and Qualifications
There are many scholarships that focus on program of studies and special skills. It is important that you identify your educational goal and the type of financial assistance you will need. If you are a minority student, you may want to search websites that are specific to minority groups.
Step 5: Do Some Leg Work
Scholarship opportunities are available in many places. Searching for scholarships can include local businesses, community and civic organizations, such as the Kiwanis or Rotary clubs, places of worship, at the local library, and on the Internet. Some services on the Internet are free, while others may have a fee. Make sure you know which ones you are choosing.
Step 6: Follow Instructions
Carefully read all instructions. If the application asks for a 300-word essay, do not exceed the limit. It is important to proofread the application for grammar and spelling errors. In addition, get a friend or family member to review the application before you submit it. Try to send the application early and make sure it is neat. It is best to type the information. The first impression may make all the difference in you getting the scholarship.
Step 7: Observe Deadlines
Adhere to all deadlines and make sure you have sent the necessary documents that were requested.
Step 8: Do Not Apply Unless you are Qualified
Read the criteria for each scholarship and make sure that you meet the qualifications. Do not waste time on scholarships you are not eligible to receive.
Step 9: Enhance your chances of success
Whenever possible, supplement your application with personal letters of recommendation. Include all the community service activities and awards you have received. Find creative ways to enhance yourself.
Step 10: Follow Up with a Telephone Call
It is always best to contact the scholarship agency to make sure it received your application.
Step 11: Prepare for the Scholarship Interview
Think of yourself as going in for a job interview. Dress professionally and speak concisely. Use the following guidelines.
Describe yourself in a few sentences.
Explain your goals and ambitions for the future.
Describe your involvement in school and your community.
Indicate an individual who has influenced you most and why.
Explain how you use you spare time. Do you enjoy readying, exercise, or other activities?
Explain any special talents that you may have that make you stand apart from other scholarship applicants.
Give a reason why you should be chosen for the scholarship.
Step 12: Send a Thank You Note
Whether or not you are selected for the scholarship, it is always a good idea to send a thank you note to the scholarship committee or donor. You never know when the opportunity will present itself again for the same or similar scholarship.
It is important to thank the individual(s) for taking the time to meet with you. If you have been the recipient of the scholarship, always say thank you to the donor and explain how the scholarship has helped you. It is also important to send a thank-you note to the individuals who write references for you.