Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cut College Costs with Scholarships

Scholarships are the most underutilized source of financial aid for college. Many organizations end up keeping money set aside for scholarships because they don’t receive qualified applicants.
Parents and students should look for scholarships in unusual places because chances are, they’re out there!
 
You’ve probably heard of the Stuck at Prom Duct Tape Scholarship where students design and wear a prom dress or suit out of duct tape. But did you know that there are thousands of other scholarships like this? If you are a student with a creative flair or know someone who is, there are plenty of scholarships that involve designing everything from posters to greeting cards.

If you don’t think you’re the creative type, maybe you’re an expert duck caller? No? Perhaps you are a member of the Michigan Llama Association? You get the idea. Don’t forget to research scholarships based on your hobbies.

Some helpful tips when looking for scholarships are:
  • Apply only to scholarships you are eligible to receive. Read all the scholarship requirements and directions carefully, and make sure that you are eligible before you send in your application.  Your application will not be considered if you are not qualified to apply.
     
  • Customize your application to each scholarship instead of sending a “one size fits all” application. Just like a resume cover letter, the success is in the details you include that speak to the scholarship provider.
     
  • You should never pay for a scholarship search. Utilize free websites such as Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com.
     
  • Don’t stop applying for scholarships once you graduate from high school. There are literally thousands of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. Some of these awards are only open to students who are already in college.
The key to getting scholarships for college is to apply, and apply often! Students should spend time at their school’s career center and begin searching for scholarship options in their sophomore year of high school.

Prospective college students should also ask different local organizations if they give out college scholarships. Many organizations and companies give grant money to students looking to major in the same field they serve.  Don’t overlook scholarships offered in your hometown. Odds are you will have a better chance of securing the scholarship if it’s a local organization.

A great example of this is the Community Financial Scholarship Program! We give away thousands of dollars in college scholarship money each year to student members who embody our “People Helping People” philosophy.

Taking the time to do your research could reduce the total amount needed through student loans. Just remember that every amount helps when you are paying for your education!

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