Written by Chris Hernandez
Many students and parents worry about how they will pay for college, especially as tuition increases yearly at a rate higher than the annual household income. This is where scholarships come in and help alleviate some of the financial burden that comes with pursuing a degree.
There are three types of scholarships available to students. In this blog post, we will be going over each one to maximize your chances of receiving them.
Many school districts offer rewards to students who meet certain criteria, whether it be academic or related to extracurriculars. While these scholarships are local and often seen as less competitive, they are limited to only a few students per scholarship, as a district budget can only allow for so much.
Some districts even offer scholarships sponsored by NPO’s, private companies, or even former graduates. Restrictions vary from ethnic or religious backgrounds, intended career paths, etc.
To find more information about your local scholarship opportunities, ask your high school counselor.
Many applications simply require meeting the criteria and answering a few short-response questions, while others require a short essay in addition to the submission. Whatever it may be, it never hurts to try.
Some colleges require specific test scores and class ranks for different tiers of scholarships on their website. If you meet their criteria, you automatically qualify for the money. For more specific information on these tiers, talk to your college advisor or check specific college websites, as the criteria can vary from school to school.
Other schools offer scholarships based on test scores and class rank amongst other factors. This type of scholarship is not automatic, and simply being eligible for it does not guarantee you will get it. Based on the quality of the rest of your application, the university may not offer you a scholarship.
Other universities consider all applicants for their scholarships automatically and do not provide specific qualifications.
A majority of schools also offer scholarships related to your major or distinguishing characteristics- such as leadership skills or coming from a disadvantaged background. Many of these scholarships may require you to write additional essays and complete applications.
Be sure to look at your colleges’ websites and reach out to admission officers as well as their scholarship or financial aid department.
Many private entities offer scholarships.
While you may be tempted to apply for highly publicized ones, remember that more people are applying for the same scholarship, so the competition is high.
Instead, you may want to look around local businesses or community groups with more attainable scholarships.
Maybe your parent’s employer offers a scholarship for students interested in a particular career path, or maybe your church offers scholarships if you reach a certain amount of community service hours.
Be sure to ask around your town to see if there are any opportunities available. If not, you could always use a third-party site to find scholarships.
The majority of scholarship money awarded typically comes directly from the colleges you apply to.
State and community funding for school district scholarships is limited and private scholarships often only apply to a limited number of students.
Applying for hundreds of scholarships could very well still only award you with a couple thousand dollars, so you may need to consider getting a part-time job to help pay for tuition.
The strength of your application affects scholarships, so maximize your opportunities by maintaining a high class rank, outstanding test scores, or involvement with extracurriculars. An important part of getting scholarships is doing research. Don’t miss out on niche scholarships simply because you didn’t know about them.
As with your college application, it is important to have a second set of eyes to check scholarship applications. Whether it be your English teacher or your Amikka college advisor, they can help to spot any grammatical mistakes and ensure that your application is appropriate and professional.
When should you apply for scholarships?
The answer is the same as college applications: the sooner, the better.
Universities have a limited amount of money they can offer based on the funding they receive, so an earlier application can improve your chances of getting scholarships.
Applying for financial aid can also qualify you for some scholarships. Filling out the FAFSA application is important if you qualify for a need-based scholarship.
Even though most scholarships are distributed among the early applicants, don’t let that stop you from applying to them if you are past the priority deadline. Apply as soon as you can, it never hurts to try.
Amikka offers college counseling programs to guide your family through the college admissions process. Visit our website or contact us to find out how we can help!