It is National Scholarship Month, meaning many future college students are starting to search for financial aid. The fall is an excellent time to start looking, as you will have time to prepare your applications and send them in before the spring application deadlines roll around. For many college students, knowing where to look for scholarships is the hardest part of the process. Here is a guide to the different types of scholarships and where you can look to find them.
Types of Scholarships
Before you start searching for scholarships, take some time to think about the different types of scholarships available to you. Determine which ones are a good fit for your skills and your passions, and start applying. Remember that you can apply for many different scholarships, and the more you apply for, the greater your chances of landing one. However, save your time and the office staff’s time by applying only for scholarships you qualify to receive.
Academic and merit scholarships are given based on grades and achievement. These require you to submit your transcripts and are awarded based on your GPA. Merit scholarships also require you to maintain a specific GPA while in school to keep receiving your scholarship money.
Arts and Athletic Scholarships
If you are going to college to pursue an art major or if you are a skilled athlete, you may be able to apply for a scholarship for those skills. Arts endowments and organizations will sponsor scholarships to fund the education of young artists, and many schools have athletic scholarships available to students in athletic programs. You may have to catch the eye of a talent scout or apply to a scholarship program directly to qualify for one of these programs.
Community Service Scholarships
Giving back to your local community could potentially earn you a scholarship opportunity. Keep track of community service hours and then look for scholarships that award people for their charitable work. If you find that you volunteer for a particular organization regularly, see if they have a scholarship to offer.
Cultural scholarships are available to students who represent specific cultural groups or are studying internationally. These may be offered through cultural organizations or come directly from the school. This type of scholarship aims to support international students or encourage a more diverse cultural and racial landscape in the school.
Essay scholarships require an applicant to write an essay on a particular topic. The topic will be of importance to the organization offering the scholarship. The winner will be the applicant who can articulate their thoughts on the essay question and shows genuine interest or passion for the subject area in question. If you do not have strong essay-writing skills, consider building these before you start applying for scholarships.
Niche scholarships are scholarships that fit a particular niche but not one already mentioned. It is a scholarship only a tiny portion of the general population will qualify to receive. For example, a small town may offer a scholarship contest only to students from that town, or a volunteer organization may provide a scholarship to its regular volunteers. Look for niche scholarships from businesses, foundations, charities, religious organizations and civic organizations that fit within your passions, experience, and knowledge.
Where to Look for Scholarships
Knowing where to look is the key to landing a scholarship for your college expenses. You can save time by narrowing down your options and applying to scholarships within those areas. Here are some locations to look for scholarships.
Talk to Your School Counselor
If you are in high school, talk to your school counselor. They can guide you toward scholarship opportunities that fit your passions, interests, and skills. Organizations often contact school counselors directly to get information about qualified students when they have a financial aid opportunity, so let yours know what you are looking for.
Online Scholarship Search Websites
Many legitimate websites offer scholarship at no cost that could help you narrow down options that may apply to you based on your demographic or area of study. Some sites that are worth visiting include:
- College Board
- Going Merry
Set up a profile on these sites and see what opportunities pop up. Some will allow you to get email alerts, so use that tool to help you find scholarships quickly.
Talk to College Admissions Office
If you are already a college student or researching college options, you can get guidance from the college admissions office of the school you are considering. Admissions counselors can guide you to programs that fit your goals and needs. Sometimes these are campus-based scholarship programs, and sometimes they are third-party scholarship programs. Regardless, this is often the best way to find out about niche or school-based scholarships.
Look for Employee Education Benefits
Adults already working may find that their employers offer an education benefit the employee can use to pursue a degree that would eventually help the business. If your company provides this perk, use it to pay for some of your schooling.
Check Local Organizations and Industry Associations
Local charity groups or industry associations in your niche are also excellent places to find scholarship opportunities. Start with those organizations that align with the work you want to do or the program you intend to study because you will have a better chance of meeting their eligibility criteria. Find organizations in your field, and you may find similar scholarship programs. Industry associations are one of the best places to look for scholarships for graduate school.
Beware of Scams
Unfortunately, scammers are all too skilled at taking advantage of students in desperate need of funds for school. Make sure you avoid common scholarship scams. Some signs that a program is a scam include:
- A fee to process the application
- Requests your credit card, Social Security number, or bank account information
- Offers you a scholarship you did not apply for
- Claims charitable status that is false and does not have a tax exemption
- Sends you a scholarship check instead of the school or sends a check for more than the scholarship amount
- Guarantees you will win
- Statements like “millions of unclaimed scholarship funds”
- Generates a sense of extreme urgency, such as saying “first come, first served” (this is not the same as having an application deadline)
- Claiming false government approval
Remember, scholarships should be free; many scholarship search sites are free. If a site wants to take your money for this service, chances are high that they are a scam.
Other Questions About Finding Scholarships
Here are some additional questions to consider as you look for a scholarship.
What Is the Difference Between Grants and Scholarships?
Grants and scholarships are funding for school that the student does not have to repay. Grants are usually delivered based on financial need. Scholarships are generally awarded based on merit, whether in community service, an essay, or the student’s GPA.
Do All Scholarships Require an Essay?
Not all scholarships require an essay, though essays are a common requirement. Writing a strong essay will improve your chances of receiving many scholarships.
When Should I Apply for Scholarships?
Apply for scholarships as soon as you decide to go to school or when a scholarship comes across your path that feels like a good fit for your skills. The earlier you can apply, the better, but you will be fine if you get your application in by the individual scholarship’s deadline.
Learn More About Financial Aid Options from Post University
If you are ready to start applying for scholarships, reach out to the admissions team at Post University. We have counselors standing by who can help you learn about the opportunities that could be available to you to reduce the cost of your tuition. With the help of our admissions counselors and financial aid department, you will receive the information you need regarding the funding necessary to pay for school, that could possibly make your college education more affordable and attainable. Check out our current scholarship opportunities, and then reach out to us to learn more about how you can apply.
Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!