Attending university is a life-changing experience for many students. However, figuring out how to pay for higher education can be a tricky piece of the puzzle. Many students turn to financial aid or apply for scholarships in order to finance their education. Here are ten things to look for in a scholarship, so you can maximize your chances of earning some financial assistance with your education.
1. Is it part scholarship or full ride?
Before getting started on the application, make sure you figure out how much money the scholarship is worth. Is it a “full ride scholarship”, meaning the overall amount of your tuition will be covered? Or, is it a part scholarship, which means it will provide a certain amount of financial assistance but you will need to finance yourself to some extent? Even full ride scholarships don’t cover everything: you’ll still need to pay for “your travel, food, books, health insurance, phone calls and fun.”
2. What type of scholarship is it?
Scholarships generally fall under two categories: merit-based or financial need, Merit-based scholarships are given based on academic achievement or on a combination of academics and a special talent, trait, or passion. In addition, some scholarships are given specifically for those in a specific group of people or with an identified circumstance, such as financial need. Financial scholarships are awarded based on the need you present.
3. Apply to as many as you can
A lot of people are clamoring for the same scholarships as you are, and therefore it can be competitive at times. Therefore, you’ll need to apply to as many scholarships as you can in order to increase your chances of earning one. Think outside the box for organizations to apply to. For example, many community groups and civic organizations offer one-time scholarships each year.
4. Does it match your profile?
Rather than just sending out your resume to any scholarship that comes available, take the time to identify that it’s one that fits your profile. If not, you’re going to end up wasting your time on a scholarship you won’t be awarded. Instead, think outside the box. The best opportunities are sometimes with the lesser known, smaller organisations. Believe it or not there are even some scholarship providers which have difficulties finding enough candidates each year, meaning you have a better chance of getting them, so it may be a great idea to seek out these opportunities.
5. Read eligibility requirements carefully
As mentioned above, you don’t want to spend your energy on an application that isn’t applicable to you. Therefore, take the time to read the fine print and make sure the scholarship is one you’re eligible for. Some have very specific requirements regarding how or to whom the money can be awarded.
6. How to apply?
Each scholarship will have a different deadline or application requirements. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to read each application, and make sure you’re fully prepared. Build yourself a schedule of dates and requirements for each scholarship, so you can be sure to get everything you need done on time.
7. How to get the money
How you receive the award will depend on each scholarship. Some scholarships will go right to your university, where it will be applied to any tuition, fees, or other amounts you owe. Then any remaining money will be given to you. Or it might be sent directly to you in a check. The scholarship provider should provide this information when upon award of the scholarship. If you aren’t sure, ask.
8. Does it affect your other aid?
A scholarship can impact the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive. Therefore, if you should be awarded a scholarship, make sure you connect with your university’s financial aid office as soon as possible. Be transparent with them about the amount of money you are receiving.
9. Know what the panel/university is looking for
Before you jump in, take the time to carefully review the qualifications for the scholarship, such as the essay prompt. Identify any key words, questions, or prompts, and make sure to utilize them during your application process.
10. International students
Studying abroad is something many students are interested in, but funding it can be difficult. Therefore, before you hop on a plane overseas, consider looking for scholarships that will help fund your studies abroad. Ask your school’s international or study abroad office to find out what scholarships you might qualify for.
Heading off to university is a huge and important decision. Therefore, spending some time figuring out what scholarships are available, and how they can help you afford your dream education is worth the time. If you put the effort in, you might find yourself very pleased with the results.