Top 5 Tips For Maximizing Scholarships

1. Apply To The Right Schools Private colleges and universities are more expensive, but they award more scholarships than in-state universities.  I know many students who are attending private schools for less than it would cost to go to a state school. Select a few schools where your grades and test scores are above average.  Keep in mind that some of the most selective schools (Ivy League for example) don’t award ANY scholarships; they just provide for financial need.

2.  Apply Early; Apply Often Some scholarships are available as early as a student’s freshman year in high school and others are reserved for college juniors and seniors, so you have an eight-year window in which to apply for awards.  Motivated students should begin early and set a goal for the number of scholarship applications they intend to submit each school year. My former student with the most scholarship awards upon graduation wasn’t number one in her class, but she was a good student who applied for dozens of scholarships.  She came to see me in the counseling office every week in her quest for scholarships.  Her efforts paid off and she “earned” more than any part-time job would have paid.

3.  Maximize Your Test Scores Test Scores matter.  By senior year it is difficult to improve GPA or class rank, but a student can make a positive change in his or her SAT or ACT scores. If you want to see one example of how test scores can influence scholarship dollars, try the Baylor University scholarship calculator:  http://www.baylor.edu/admissions/index.php?id=82248

4. Don’t Overlook Small Or Local Awards Money adds up.  $500 won’t cover tuition, but it helps and a few $500 awards start to make a big difference.  Additionally, small and local scholarships tend to have less competition.  Some awards go unclaimed each year because no one applies.  Increase your odds of success and don’t ignore these opportunities.

5.  NEVER Pay For Scholarships There are a lot of scams out there praying upon parents’ fears and financial needs.

  • No legitimate scholarship will require payment.  (No processing fees, transaction fees, or deposits.)
  • No legitimate consultant can promise results.

I’ve seen fraudulent programs promise to help students find and qualify for awards – for a fee.  Usually these programs keep 90% of the fee and the student “wins” a $250 scholarship from the company. There are plenty of online resources to help you find scholarships.  I like FastWeb.com, but there are many others. Before you begin an application, verify the program is still in existence; the economy has impacted some scholarship programs. Go out there and begin your scholarship hunt!]]>

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