The high costs of getting an education shouldn’t stop you from enrolling. Check out these surefire tips on how to get a scholarship.
Whether you’re getting ready to enroll or you are continuing to pursue your degree, knowing how to get a scholarship will help you pay for your education. Getting scholarships is a great way to afford college and decrease student debt. But, in such a competitive environment, what are the best ways to go about doing so?
First and foremost, it’s useful to understand the differences between grants and scholarships, as well as the various kinds of scholarships available. Next, once you are applying, there are a variety of ways to set yourself apart from the competition.
With both being termed “gift aid” because they offer money that doesn’t have to be paid back, grants and scholarships still have some differences. More often than not, a grant is need-based whereas a scholarship is merit-based. Both forms of aid can come from the government, private organizations and colleges.
So how do you get scholarships?
Let’s take a look at some useful tips to set yourself apart from the competition:
1. Know the Different Types of Scholarships
There are various kinds of scholarships based on different factors. Here’s a list of some of the most common kinds:
These scholarships are based on academic merit. Therefore, they have minimum requirements for GPAs and are, by nature, competitive.
Based on athletic ability, you can earn a scholarship to attend school to play for their sports teams. There are schools with differing levels of sports programs, from Division I to Division III, and each level has the opportunity for scholarships.
If you’re the first in your family to attend college, you could be eligible to receive a first-generation scholarship to help afford school.
Whether you’re a refugee, minority, or female, just to name a few, there are specific scholarships awarded to people based on their demographics.
2. Find the Perfect Scholarships for You
Like playing the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket. Scholarships work the same way in that you have to put in the effort and search for the right one to apply to in order to be awarded. There are several different and relatively simple ways to go about finding the scholarship that is right for you. Here’s a few ways to do it:
- Search databases and online
- Register for a Scholarship Search
- Talk to counselors
- Fill out a FAFSA (Federal Student Aid) even if you don’t need it because some scholarships will require it
- Talk to friends and family
- Talk to people on forums like Facebook and Quora
- Ask the university you are wanting to apply to
- Look for companies that will sponsor you
For example, at the UoPeople, there are nine available scholarships to help cover the costs of course assessment fees. Each scholarship has its respective criteria and eligibility to apply, but for the most part, they are geared towards adopted students, women, refugees, and anyone who demonstrates financial need. Like UoPeople, most universities will provide details of all available scholarships online, as well as a link to apply straight from the website.
3. Compile Requirements
If you choose to apply for multiple or just one scholarship, remaining organized is key because you’ll have deadlines that must be met. One way to do this is to create a spreadsheet or list of the various scholarships you want to apply to along with their requirements and deadlines.
Each scholarship is different and requires different documentation, but for the most part, here’s a look at what many will ask for throughout the process:
These are written to the judging person/committee to give some more background about yourself and give you a chance to explain why you deserve said scholarship.
You can request your transcripts from your high school or previous university to provide to the scholarship. Transcripts are a list of your entire coursework along with accompanying grades.
Some scholarships will require one or more essays with a given prompt and word count. These will be your chance to really stand out from the crowd with good writing and your compelling, honest story.
If you have work experience or volunteer experience, your resume will offer a source of documentation to display your well-roundedness.
Letters of recommendation:
Find someone who knows you well, either an employer or professor, and ask them to write a letter on your behalf showcasing your strength, character, and why you are a worthy candidate to be awarded.
As mentioned, each scholarship application will vary. For example, at University of the People, which is tuition-free, there are relatively small fees associated with the one time $60 university application fee (which can be waived) and assessment fee of $100 per course (where scholarships are available to help students cover these costs).
4. Use Human Resources
Throughout the scholarship process, as well as during university, having a mentor or someone who knows you well whom you can trust will be a useful resource. When you apply for a scholarship, ask that person to review your application as it’s always useful for a third party to provide their feedback.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to contact the scholarship funder or your desired university directly to ask any questions you may have. They are there to help!
5. Tips to Winning Scholarships
Once you have your list of scholarships ready and their respective deadlines and requirements, you’re ready to get rolling!
How can you ensure that you are on the right path to winning the scholarship money?
Here are a few top tips to apply:
Apply for the scholarships that actually match your qualifications. Scholarships will list their eligibility requirements, so make sure you match them before wasting your time to apply.
Scholarship reviewers have a lot of information and applications to look over, so make sure you only provide the information they are asking for. Often times, they will give you a chance to add any extra insight that may be useful to know in their review process, so you may have an open-ended opportunity to share something you want with them in that field.
The entire process can get overwhelming, but you can decrease that feeling by being proactive. Start early and check before you’re enrolled or accepted into university for the scholarships that you want to apply to. In fact, many scholarships are awarded before the school term even begins.
As mentioned before, creating a spreadsheet or list of scholarships you’re applying to with their deadlines is a good way to never miss a deadline.
Prepare for Interviews
Some scholarships will require an in-person or virtual interview. You can prepare for these by practicing common interview questions by yourself or with a friend or family member. The more prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be impressive!
Furthermore, there are other options to afford higher education. For example, at University of the People, degree programs range from Associate to Master’s and are entirely tuition-free. While there is an application fee, as well as course assessment fees, you may be eligible for university-specific or third-party scholarships to help you cover the costs.
Scholarships are one of the best ways to earn “free money” to fund your education. As long as you’re proactive and organized, there are definitely scholarships out there that you will be eligible to apply to win.