A top university once examined which of its students were outside scholarship recipients. Two facts emerged — freshmen, just 18% of its student body, brought in 44% of of its outside scholarships; upperclassmen, 72% of its enrollees, accounted for just 56% of such awards.
Sure, some providers limit their scholarships to freshman. But others, both on and off-campus, prefer students after their first year. Unfortunately, most students stop looking for scholarships once they go to college.
That’s dumb! Why ignore free money? Here are some scholarship tips for you if you’re already in school:
1. Start looking early and keep looking. Scholarship opportunities get announced year-round, so your search shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Set aside some time to look every week or two.
2. Seek on-campus scholarships. Institutions generally have scholarships for upperclassmen only. Often their colleges, departments, and schools target awards at students who’ve demonstrated persistence and performed well in their majors. Get to know faculty in your major — their recommendations can help. Student organizations typically reserve their scholarships for currently enrolled students, too.
3. Don’t ignore off-campus providers. These organizations don’t always limit their awards to freshmen, either. And if someone gave you money only for your freshman year, see if they also make awards to continuing students.
4. Use the internet and scholarship search engines. Be specific in internet searches — e.g. “accounting scholarships” or “future accountant scholarships” instead of “college scholarships.” Same for your institution’s scholarship web page, if it has one. On search engines, answer every question, even if it’s optional, to improve your chances of finding matches.
5. Contact providers back home. One study indicated that 20% or fewer students get promising “hits” on search engines. So look in your home town, county, and region for scholarships offered there
6. Don’t dismiss “small” scholarships. A few $100 or $250 scholarships add up.
7. Make your applications stand out. Type anything you don’t just check on an application furnished by the provider. No bizarre or suggestive email address.
8. Write killer essays. They can be as important as any term paper! So outline, write boldly, and rewrite! Be personally revealing, show your passion, and tell how you “fit” the scholarship you’re after. Proof your content, grammar, and spelling; don’t just rely on spellcheck.
9. Beware of scholarship scams. Never pay a fee for help in your search — it’s generally a rip-off. Review search engine privacy policies and avoid those that disclose (sell) your personal information to marketers and other merchants.
College Affordability Solutions has extensive experience in managing financial aid and scholarship programs. Call (512) 366-5354 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to consult it at no charge on any questions you may have about this article.