As college costs rise, scholarships become more and more important. Scholarships are great, because unlike a lot of other aid, you don't have to pay them back. Some people think that scholarships are reserved for people with very high GPAs, but this is not the case. There are scholarships for almost every interest, talent, religious and ethnic background. The trick is to look and apply for many. Don't be discouraged if you find scholarships for low amounts of money. Every dollar counts! They are also usually easier to get, and will actually benefit you in getting larger scholarships in the future. Now that you are excited to start looking, how do you do it?
- Begin to look early. While every scholarship has a different deadline, you want to make sure that you not only meet the deadline, but also have enough time to get together all the requirements that they are looking for. Some scholarships are only looking for an application. Others want reference letter, an essay, financial statements, an interview and other documentation of your qualifications. It will never hurt you to have a plan about how to get these items together as soon as possible.
- The library is a great resource. The public library and your school library are great sources for books about scholarships. Many books have been printed, and why not check them out for free.
- Contact your references. Nothing is worse than having everything you need together except the references from your teacher, coach, employers etc. It is not fair to ask them to write a reference for you quickly. Before you even know what scholarships you are applying for, it's a good idea to ask your possible references if they would write a reference for you.
- Look at your school. Your school is a resource that you should not forget. Some schools have websites that have different scholarships available to you. Others have bulletin boards or other sorts of displays. Ask your school what they do to advertise scholarships to students. Most high school and colleges have a list of scholarships. Also, don't forget to find out if your school has a scholarship advisor. This advisor will have valuable information for you on finding a scholarship as well as the whole application process.
- The internet. Doing a search is a fantastic way to find many scholarships. It's a good idea to ask your school what search sites they recommend. While there are many good sites for looking for scholarships, be weary of any that ask you to pay.