Thursday, November 03, 2016

12 Useful College Scholarship Strategies





November is National Scholarship Month that highlights the importance of using college scholarships to pay for college tuition. College tuition costs outpace the cost of inflation. College students can expect to pay $10,000 to $60,000 per year. The first two years of college are the most expensive. College costs will include your intended major, size of the school, location, school environment, college expenses, financial aid available, sports, extra-curricular activities, and the type of school. Find ways to reduce expenses such as buying used books or consider off-campus housing to save money and use student loans as a last resort.

Do not let college tuition costs discourage you from attending college. Saving money before starting college will help defray expenses. Save a portion of money earned at summer jobs or money received as gifts for upcoming college expenses.

Some factors to consider when looking at college: your intended major, the size of the school - number of students and classes; location of school - how close to home; school environment - urban, rural, city; college expenses, financial aid offered, sports and extra-curricular activities, and the type of school.

Avoid making assumptions. Talk with your parents early on about college tuition and expenses. Determine: if your parents will pay, if you will pay, the cost of books, supplies, laptop, printer, etc., cost of meal plan and snacks, clothing costs, credit card bills, health insurance and unexpected expenses. Remember that even though you are accepted it does not mean that you will receive housing on campus. Obtaining housing is a separate application process with fees and deadlines.

On average you receive 1 out of every 10 scholarships you apply for so you have to apply for at least 50 to 100 scholarships to ensure you have enough money to cover tuition cost, so apply, apply, apply.

There are several types of scholarships such as: merit Scholarships which are based on GPA, SAT/ACT scores, etc.; need-Based Scholarships which are based on financial need only; athletic Scholarships which are usually given to star athletes by universities to recruit them for the athletic teams; school-Based Individual Scholarships where you can apply directly to the scholarship or may be accepted automatically; and full or Partial Scholarships that cover the cost of books, tuition, room and board, and books. Partial scholarships cover part of the tuition, books or just room and board.

Scholarships are free and do not require an application fee. Beware of scholarship scams. Verify a company’s history with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org or ask for references.

Starting applying for college between October and December during your senior year. Early acceptance decisions are provided between December and January. Apply for the FAFSA on January 1st  at www.fafsa.gov. Provide acceptance to colleges and universities no later than April. Here are 12 dynamic tips to assist you when applying for college scholarships.

Research
You can find scholarships online at sites such as fastweb.com or scholarships.com. You can also find scholarships at your state government’s website, your state or local city council, your school counselor or prospective college financial aid office. Start your research as soon as you get your final SAT scores. Perform searches on the internet with websites such as College Board. Look for scholarships in the library, local and national organizations, your state government, the school you plan to attend and major corporations.

Develop a Plan
Determine what your interests are, your major, and select at least 5 colleges or universities you would like to attend, weigh the benefits of attending each.

Ask for Help
Talk to your parents, school counselor and current college students who received scholarships and ask for pointers on how they obtained scholarships.

Perform Community Service
If you do not have at least a 3.0 GPA you may not be eligible for scholarships based solely on GPA but you can still be considered if you have at least 1 to 2 years of community service including any leadership role.

Be Strategic
Everyone will be applying for scholarships, apply for scholarships that you feel you will have a good chance of getting, i.e. scholarships where you meet all the requirements.

Follow the rules
Adhere to all the guidelines for the scholarship. Ask several people to read over your applications and essays. Ensure all information is accurate and make a copy of each application for your records.

Read
Read all the scholarship requirements and instructions to make sure you are eligible before you send in your application. Provide all required information, but do not supply information that was not requested, you could be disqualified.

Submit Required Documents
Ensure tax status, student status and tax filings are correct. Remember to sign all required documents. Including additional paperwork with the scholarship application as needed.

Submit a Complete Application
Complete all fields on the application. If a question does not apply, state that on the application instead of leaving it blank. Provide additional requested supporting documentation, such as recommendation letters, transcripts, awards won, recognition letters for community service or other work, and essays.

Organize and Review
Proofread the entire application. Check for misspelled words or grammatical errors. Present information in a neat organized manner and print legibly. Make at least two copies of all the application documents before you fill them out. Use the copies as working drafts while preparing the scholarship application packet to reduce errors or typos. Transfer all error-free information to the actual application.

Write a Good Essay
Write your essay that captures your personality and explains your interest in the school, reason for asking for money, why the school should choose you and your future goals after college.

Deliver on Time
Make sure you scholarship package is presentable, no strike-through marks or use of whiteouts or run-on sentences. Send in your scholarship application packet at least two weeks prior to the deadline to ensure proper delivery. Include your name, address and SSN (if required) on all your application materials to provide easier tracking if any page gets lost during processing. Keep a copy of the final application package in the event the original gets lost during processing.

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