7 College Scholarship Search Tips For Beginners


On Thursday, SayCampusLife published information about five college scholarships that are on our radar for the month of February 2010. One of the five has a pending deadline with the other four needing to be met over the coming weeks or months.

Scholarship Refresher

college studentThough we post information from time to time about particular scholarships, it may be good to offer a refresher explaining why college scholarships can spell the difference between affording college, taking on too much debt, or not pursuing a degree in the first place. To that end we will address some of the finer points in order to clear up some misconceptions and help you focus on what really matters:

1. My student does not have to pay the money back. That’s right, college scholarships amount to free money, which means that those funds will offset at least a portion of your college tuition and related expenses. There may be some strings attached, such as maintaining a certain grade point average for multiyear awards, but once the money has been awarded your college costs are reduced by that amount.

2. Scholarships are offered only during certain months of the year. That is partially true. From late fall through winter, many of the scholarships to be awarded for the upcoming academic year require that your application be in sometime between November and the end of March. But there are many other scholarships with later deadlines. Always take note of the filing deadline when applying.

3. I am limited by the number of scholarships I can select. No, that is not correct. You can apply for as many you can handle. But with a caveat: when applying you will need to include an essay, recommendations, and other paperwork. Filling out just one application can require a lot of your time, therefore concentrate on doing a few applications well instead of numerous ones mediocrely.

4. Some scholarships come with many restrictions. That is true. If you read the application requirements—something you absolutely must do—you may discover that you do not qualify. A number of restrictions can be in place including: area of study, grade point average, ethnicity (yes, this is legal), gender, place of residence, you name it. These restrictions are meant to limit who can apply as well as call out certain kinds of candidates the scholarship committee wants to review.

5. Multiyear scholarships are common. Not really. Many scholarships are awarded for more than one academic year, but you are likely to find far more scholarships that are not. One note: scholarships for multiple academic years often are contingent on academic performance. This means that your student will have to show proof of grades each year in order to qualify for the next year.

6. I always hear back from the scholarship committee. Well, usually. However, if there are thousands of applicants you may not get a letter. Instead, you may receive an email notification saying that you were turned down. Check your spam folder just in case. If you are approved, you may discover you have won through a phone call, email message, or a letter to your home. Sometimes people mess up; you may discover that you are a winner when that information is published in the paper or online.

7. My college cannot help me with scholarships. False. In fact, many scholarships are offered only to students at a particular school by alumni and other supporters. Contact your school’s financial aid department to find out how to apply. You may have already received those details along with your financial award letter.

Your Comments

We hope that these seven tips or points cleared up some misconceptions about college scholarships. If you have questions, feel free to ask them by filling out the comment section related to this article. Lastly, please visit our dedicated college scholarship page to begin your search for financial assistance.


Federal Trade Commission: Scholarship Scams

The University of New Mexico: Scholarship Application Tips


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Categories: Scholarships