Welcome to the second installment in our series: What Now? At this time of year students’ (and parents’) thoughts often turn to paying for college. We hear a lot about scholarships and how they help defray some of the costs of education, but there are a lot of misconceptions about scholarships, so we call this installment: Demystifying Scholarships.
While there are many kinds of scholarships they fall into three general categories.
These scholarships are awarded by a college or university, most commonly for academic merit. In general merit scholarships are based on grades and test scores, and many merit scholarships are awarded automatically to students who meet the required criteria. (Certain merit scholarships require a student to be nominated by his or her high school and to complete an application process.) Schools may also offer scholarships for community service or other activities, like the arts. For information about an institution’s scholarships start by looking under the Financial Aid tab on their website. Take a look at Drew College’s page on Grants and Scholarships for a good idea example of institutional scholarships. http://www.drew.edu/financial-aid/financial-aid-scholarships/
A note about athletic scholarships:
Institutional athletic scholarships can only be awarded by schools who are in Division I or Division II; these scholarships are determined by the athletic department in conjunction with the NCAA or NAIA rules and will be part of the conversation between the recruiter and the student athlete.
These scholarships are offered by local businesses, charities and organizations and require that a student reside within a specific region. The advantage of these scholarships is that the applicant pool tends to be smaller so you have a better chance of being awarded a scholarship. Information on local scholarships is often available at your high school, your local library, place of worship or through your local Community Foundation. For our students in Palm Beach County we highly recommend the Community Foundation scholarship listing found here: www.yourcommunityfoundation.org/scholarship-program While many of these scholarships are a smaller dollar amount, every little bit helps!
We are using this term to refer to scholarships offered on a national level by
businesses, charities and other organizations. Looking for these kind of scholarships requires a bit of effort on the part of the student. There are many websites that can help you search for these kind of scholarships. Two sites students we work with like are Fastweb and Big Future https://www.fastweb.com/college-scholarships and https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship-search
Here are a few tips for working with these kind of scholarship sites.
Create an email account just for scholarships. You will get a lot of email!
Set aside a time to search, maybe 15 or 20 minutes a week. Otherwise the process can be too overwhelming. Pick one or two scholarships and determine if you fit the criteria before taking the time to apply.
As with anything online read everything carefully before providing personal information. Most sites are reputable, but be judicious. Never pay for a scholarship search.
A final tip:
Carefully read the qualification requirements for a scholarship before spending the time making an application. Some scholarships are limited by residency or family income. You don’t want to waste your time on an application for a scholarship for which you are not qualified!