5 Tips for Getting Scholarship Money

5 Tips for Getting Scholarship MoneySchools and numerous private and public organizations award scholarships. While there are thousands of available scholarships, finding the right ones can be challenging and the competition is often fierce. Use the following tips to stay organized and maximize your opportunities in order to receive funds that you do not have to pay back.

1. Start Early

Begin the search and application process as early as possible. Some organizations permit applicants to submit their paperwork before their senior year. Develop a system that helps you meet application deadlines. Continue to apply for scholarships as you learn about the financial assistance. It is a numbers game. With each application that you submit, you increase your opportunity for receiving funds. Do not overlook scholarships that award small sums because the money can add up. Read the requirements carefully to ensure you are eligible before focusing your efforts on programs for which you are not qualified.

2. Locate Scholarships

In addition to searching online, look for local scholarships. Local civic organizations, churches, clubs and businesses are frequently overlooked sources of scholarships. States also have various types of money set aside for higher education, including grants and scholarships. Ask your guidance counselor for assistance. He or she may be able to help you find local and regional scholarships that you do not know about or have not fully considered. Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in January of your senior year. It will clarify how much free aid for which you may qualify.

3. Identify the Sponsor’s Goals

When composing an essay and answering questions include concrete examples that match the sponsor’s goals and requirements. Do not write in the abstract. Speak with passion in your own voice. The closer you match the sponsor’s motivation for awarding the scholarship, the better your chances of winning. Many scholarships ask for the same or similar information. Assemble a file with previously submitted information so you do not have to research it again. It may be quicker and easier to modify an existing essay for different applications than to write a new one for each submission.

4. Follow the Instructions

Read the instructions carefully and complete the application in full. If you are unsure about something, contact the organization sponsoring the scholarship for clarification. Type the entries or write legibly. Proofread your answers to find and correct any possible errors prior to submitting the application. Assemble all parts of the application neatly, ensuring that you include all the requested information. Supplying extraneous information or omitting items could potentially disqualify you. Make a copy of everything that you submit. Send the application by certified mail or use a parcel service to verify that the package was delivered.

5. Bolster Your Personal Image

Maintaining a high GPA makes you more competitive and typically qualifies you for more scholarships. Stay active in extracurricular activities. Being on an athletic team or involved with a club or community service organization will also improve your chances of being awarded a scholarship. Clean up your social media accounts. Remove inappropriate and immature material. When selecting individuals to write letters of recommendation, ensure that they speak to your strengths and highlight your accomplishments. You want a solid letter providing detailed examples about your sense of responsibility, work ethic and other positive traits so you stand out from other applicants (please also see: How Do I Select References for My Letters of Recommendation? ).

An additional tip is to stay organized. A file with a spreadsheet listing milestones will help you to stay on track so you do not miss submission deadlines. Remember that your application represents you to the selection committee. You want to put your best foot forward.