To some students and parents, the word "scholarship" is just another one of
those confusing college terms: student loans,
, tuition and fees, EFC, grants, and work study. Little do they realize
that knowing more about the scholarship process could save them thousands of
dollars when trying to cover the cost of their education.
What are scholarships?
Scholarships come in a variety of forms,
but are generally considered to be "free money" for college. Unlike loans,
scholarships do not have to be repaid to the scholarship provider. Some
scholarships are awarded directly to the student in the form of a check, while
other scholarships are written out to the student's college or university.
Several different types of providers issue scholarships: clubs and
organizations, charitable foundations, businesses, schools, universities,
government agencies, and others.
Who can get scholarships?
It is a common misconception that
scholarships are only for "straight-A" students. In reality, there are all types
of scholarships for all types of students, including those with less than
perfect academic records. Some scholarships are for athletes
; others are for
students planning to study in particular fields; and others for community
service. Some scholarship providers just want to reward students for living in a
certain city or state! Students also mistakenly believe that only college-bound
high school seniors can apply for awards. Scholarships are available for all
levels of college study, from freshman undergrads to graduate and Ph.D.
students. There are also scholarships available for non-traditional and returning adult students.
How do students find scholarships?
Finding scholarships can be
a very time-consuming process, but not if students use a reputable and accurate
scholarship search service on the Internet, like
. Students can also ask their high school guidance
counselors about any local or state awards that they qualify for. Students
should contact the financial aid office at the college or university they plan
to attend to learn if they qualify for any awards provided by the school.
When should students look for scholarships?
Each scholarship application has its own deadline. There are thousands of scholarship programs
with spring and summer deadlines, and thousands more with fall and winter
deadlines. The key is to never stop searching for new scholarship leads, even
after beginning the freshman year in college. A good rule of thumb is to
continue searching for scholarships for the duration of the college career.