Sunday, February 6, 2011

How to Narrow Down Your Scholarship Search?

As you already know, college is very expensive.  With tuition, books, room and board, travel, and other miscellaneous items, your total cost upon graduation can be well over $100,000, even more.  Obtaining scholarships is an easy way to reduce this cost.  And unlike loans, you do not have to pay this money back.  But where do you start?  Not too long ago, a high school senior was in the news for obtaining a total of $300,000 in scholarship money from various sources.  Now a lot of that money was contingent upon her majoring in certain fields, attending certain schools, or even rejecting other money that she could have received.  But this showed every student and parents the amount of available scholarship money that gets untapped year after year.  Through research, focus, and yes essay writing, you too can get needed scholarship money.  So make your scholarship search easier by following these three simple tips:

1.)  Determine what “types” of scholarships might be available to you.  Your time is precious.  Therefore, the worst thing for you to do is to start applying for scholarships that have certain eligibility requirements that you do not meet.  Be aware that there are four major types of scholarships: Academic, Athletic, Financial/Need Based, and Unique Criteria.  During your search, you should be thinking about your own abilities and history to focus on a specific type or types of scholarships.  Unique Criteria based scholarships could be anything from being an example community citizen to just being left-handed.    If you can think of something that makes you special, most likely there is a scholarship out there that is specifically for that talent or unique characteristic of yours.   There are a plethora of unique criteria based scholarships that never get used.

2.)  Always start your search with the university or college that you are attending.  This is very important for two reasons.  The first is that you would be surprised of the amount of money that colleges and even specific departments within the college set aside to assist students.  If you maintain good grades and are actively involved, you are a student that they want to keep enrolled.   The second reason is that the amount of money that you get from external or outside sources may actually reduce the amount of money that your school is willing to give you.  For example, if your school sees a scholarship check come in for $3,000 from your volunteering organization, The Red Cross, they might reduce the scholarship that they had already given you by $3,000.  Therefore, you might have wasted your time completing that three page scholarship application and writing that five page essay that had to go along with it.

3.)  Have a focused online search strategy.  It is very easy to get lost or confused with the tens of thousands of online scholarship sites.  So either focus your search by typing in specific types of scholarships or criteria, as mentioned above, that meets your eligibility (political activist scholarships, music scholarships, academic scholarships…etc.) or use “one stop shop” online search scholarship tools such as, or  This will save you time and energy, so that you can focus on your school work and having fun!

Next Post:  College Dating:  Success or Failure?

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