I Don’t Even Know How to Start Looking for Scholarships. Where Do I Start?

The great thing about scholarships is that you can apply for (and receive) as many as you can. That can be truly helpful considering the cost of attending college can be a huge burden. A great rule of thumb, if you’re wondering whether or not to apply for a scholarship, is to just do it! The worst thing that can happen is you end in the same place you started — and the best-case scenario is you get yourself some cash.

So just exactly how can you find, apply for, and score these coveted scholarships and grants? We’ve got everything you need to know!

What Kind of Scholarships Can I Get — and Am I Eligible?

Scholarships aren’t just for valedictorians or star athletes. Whether you’re attending college or a trade school, there are scholarships for almost every hobby, skill, interest, and degree.

  • Say you’re a top student, a talented musician, or a budding chef looking for scholarships. You can find all kinds of opportunities by using scholarship search tools, such as the Department of Labor’s Career OneStop or the College Board’s Scholarship Search platform.
  • If you’re from a low-income family, a number of organizations like Davis-Putter and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provide need-based scholarships.
  • You can even get scholarships for doing community service. For example, the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is available to domestic and international students alike.
  • Besides traditional scholarships, you might be surprised to find opportunities for ethnic minorities, first-generation learners, and the LGBTQ community. Today, there are scholarships for everyone — gamers, vegetarians, and even zombie lovers.

How Do I Apply for a Scholarship?

Applying for scholarships is not a complicated process, but you do need to set aside some dedicated time. Here’s what you need to do to submit each scholarship application:

Check Eligibility Requirements

Each scholarship comes with a unique set of requirements, such as grades, extracurriculars, and income. Sometimes you’ll need to meet requirements not only before you apply but even after you’ve won the scholarship. For instance, some scholarships may require you to maintain a certain GPA to continue to be eligible. Before applying, read up on the eligibility requirements so you know it’s the right fit.

Take Note of the Scholarship Deadline

Getting your scholarship application in order may involve various steps and will take time, so make sure you start the process at least a month before the deadline.

It’s better to get your applications in earlier than later to give yourself time to account for unexpected delays. It also gives you the advantage of offering the scholarship award committee a sneak peek at your stellar time management skills. So, get those deadlines on the calendar in bold print and fight the urge to procrastinate.

Tips for Applying for a Scholarship for College

With the cost of attending college increasing each year, the competition for scholarships and grants is on the rise. To increase your chances of receiving financial aid:

  • Don’t ignore small reward amounts — they can add up!
  • Read directions carefully before your start filling out your application.
  • Keep a backup file of your work in case something goes wrong.
  • To make sure you apply on time, mark your calendar with deadlines or use apps to help you keep track.
  • If you’re stuck or need help, contact the organization offering the scholarship.

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