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How to Apply for a Scholarship

To Get Money, You Have to Ask for It

The process of applying for a scholarship bears great similarity to the college application process. Initially, you begin with a broad list which you then trim by matching them against your personal needs. You then go to the next step of writing compelling applications addressed to the relevant people; which should be backed by your essays, recommendations, achievements as well as interviews. Outlined below are some tips which you can use to come up with promising scholarship applications.

Scholarship Application Tips

You can find a lot of advice on the internet on how to apply for scholarships – which extra-curricular activities you should stress on, how to describe yourself in the essay among other vital tips. What should be noted is that authors vary greatly and what might have worked for someone may not necessarily work for you. In the end, the best scholarship secrets will involve use of your common sense and an acute ability of following instructions.

Start Your Research Early It is quite simple: the more time you have to search for a scholarship, the more the chances of success. You must have ample time to look through scholarship databases, ask for information and application requirements as well as finalizing your application. Most scholarships have deadlines ser early in the fall of senior year. To get started you may make use of Scholarship Search.

Read Eligibility Requirements Carefully – Again, by starting your scholarship search early, you end up having more options. You get to read the fine print and only apply for those that you are eligible for. In case eligibility criteria aren’t clearly spelt out, you may contact the scholarship sponsors for clarification.

Organize All Scholarship Materials The most important thing is being organized while searching for scholarships. Imagine sending a scholarship application to the wrong sponsor?! You need to create individual files or folders for every scholarship you apply for which you may name by application deadline. You may then have a calendar showing application deadlines and follow-up appointments.

These are the usual things required by many scholarships.

  • Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA or CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®
  • Essay(s)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Parents’ financial information, including tax returns
  • Proof of eligibility (e.g., membership credentials)
  • Standardized test scores
  • Transcript

Students competing for scholarships awarded based on talents, may have to showcase their abilities. In such a case, they have to prepare for an interview where they may be auditioned.

  • Proofread Your Applications Carefully – It is always important to submit close to perfect if not perfect work. The spell check feature on common word processors is a good first step. Afterwards have someone to proofread your work. This can be a teacher, friend or close family member whose opinion will be impartial.
  • Don’t Leave Items Blank – If you are not sure about certain segments of your scholarship application form, feel free to contact the scholarship sponsor.
  • Follow Instructions to the Letter – In certain sections, you may be given a limit for writing – the essay for instance. Also avoid sending supporting documents that you have not been requested to do so.
  • Make Sure Your Application Is Legible – If you know that your handwriting is not legible, print or type out your essay and application form.
  • Make Copies of Everything You Send – This is usually a precautionary measure just in case you applications do not reach the destination.
  • Double-Check Your Application – It is a common practice to use an essay or cover letter from other scholarships. You will need to make sure that it is custom to the correct application. People often forget to sign and date their application, don’t!
  • Get Your Applications In Early – Just to ensure you’re applications get to the destination in time, use certified mail or the return receipt.

How Scholarships Affect Your Financial Aid Package

Qualifying for private scholarships reduces segments of your financial aid package. Colleges are mandated to reflect external scholarships as a student’s own financial resource. Supposing a college offers you full financial coverage, the law dictates that any scholarship money you are awarded to lower your financial need value on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Of importance to you should be the types of aid that are eliminated or reduced – the need based grants or self help aid. By following government regulations, colleges are able to adjust your financial aid package in various ways. They may include: reducing self-help aid before grants, deducting the value of unmet needs first or even using scholarship funds to replace grant money. Some considerate colleges may allow using your scholarship to waive some family contribution.
You should get in touch with financial aid offices of various colleges that you may want to attend and enquire on policies they adopt on external scholarships.