You may think that checks only travel from your pocket to your college to pay for tuition. But schools actually give a lot of money to students. Some of this money comes from the college itself while other money is from generous donations of alumni. Every college administers a number of scholarships, some based on financial need and some based on merit. What many students don't know is that often a student's application for admission is also used by the school to determine whether he or she may win a scholarship. This is one reason it is worthwhile to submit any optional essay suggested on a college application. Even if the essay does not impact your admission, it could be used to award you some scholarship dollars. To discover what awards may be available to you, send an email to the financial aid office of your college or of the colleges you are considering. In this email ask for a list of the college's scholarships. Pretty simple!
Flipping burgers may have an up side. Even if you work only part-time, you may qualify for an educational scholarship given by your employer. For example, McDonald's offers the National Employee Scholarship to reward the accomplishments of its student-employees. There is even a McScholar of the Year prize that includes a $5,000 scholarship. If you have a full- or part-time job, ask your employer about scholarships.
Companies often award scholarships to the children of their employees. Ask your parents to speak with their human resources department about scholarships and other educational programs offered to employees and their families. Like companies, many unions also sponsor scholarships for the children of their members. Again, have your parents speak with the union officers about union-sponsored scholarships and other educational programs.
Most community newspapers announce local students who win scholarships. Keep a record of the scholarship announcements or go to the library and look at back issues of the newspaper. Check last year's spring issues and you'll probably find tons of announcements of scholarship recipients. Then contact the sponsoring organizations to see if you're eligible to enter the next competition. A newspaper archive really is like a treasure map that can lead you to scholarships.
As you look for scholarships, don't make the mistake we made when we started our scholarship search. That mistake was that we did it alone. Maybe we didn't want to share what we found with our friends or perhaps we just didn't see the benefit of working in groups. Whatever the reason, it probably cost us a ton of money. We've met thousands of students who have won scholarships from all across the country. Of these, the most successful are those who did not look for scholarships alone. In fact, they made it the biggest group project imaginable. Students who worked with others discovered that by sharing the awards they found and pooling their resources, they were able to find more scholarships in less time than they ever would have if they had worked alone. The end result was that these students had more scholarships to apply to and more time to focus on their applications. All of this meant that they won more money.
One additional benefit to combining your efforts with those of others is that you'll stay much more motivated throughout the process. And take it from us who have been there, it can be very discouraging to look for awards alone! So get together with your friends, classmates and even relatives and start looking for scholarships together. Who knows, you may even have some fun!
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
The goal of The Ultimate Scholarship Book is simple: To help you find free money. Inside you'll find the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing of more than 1.5 million awards. An easy-to-use index makes finding the right scholarships ridiculously quick. And it wouldn't be the Ultimate book without a section of little known insider tips and strategies that show you how to actually win the scholarships you find!
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Learn how to go back to school without going broke. This is the only book that shows you how to find the best scholarships for adult students, get your employer to pay, have your student loans forgiven and much more.