Scholarships are a great source of financial assistance for all post high school students. There are scholarships available for all types of students in all types of vocational and academic programs, but finding and applying for scholarships can be a time consuming process. This portion of our website is dedicated to helping you find the right resources and good advice for submitting scholarship applications. Remember to schedule an appointment with your school counselor if you have questions or need help.
Grade point average is usually very important for scholarships, but it is essential to remember that scholarship programs want to see more than just high grades and SAT scores. Having extra curricular activities, community service, leadership skills, or a special talent, can be very important in making your application stand out. The presentation of your application package is also vital. Avoid common mistakes such as:
- Not following directions,
- Missing deadlines
- Not typing your application
- Sending a sloppy or incomplete application
- Forgetting to spell check and to proofread after you spell check
Apply for as many scholarships as you can, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Research a variety of sources as you look for scholarships. There are many websites, and even scholarship books that have lots of information for you. Three great resources are Fast Web, local public libraries, and a local college financial aid office. Apply for local scholarships even if they are offering small amounts of money. You have a better chance of winning when there is a smaller pool of applicants, and if you apply for several local scholarships, the small sums you might win can add up. If your family is well off financially it doesn’t automatically disqualify you for winning scholarships. You may not qualify for some need based scholarship programs, but there are lots of scholarships that are merit based. Even if you think you might not qualify for a scholarship, apply anyway. Don’t eliminate yourself; let the scholarship committee eliminate you.
To keep from getting overwhelmed, try to stay as organized as you can with all of the scholarship information. Create folders for yourself and keep all the paperwork together. If you are going to use scholarship search websites that require a log in with email information, it may be helpful to create a new email address specifically for scholarships and financial aid information.
Although scholarship applications vary, the typical information required will not change. If you create a file for yourself that has all the needed information, it will be much easier when you apply for scholarships, because the hard work will already be done. Here are some ideas on how to get ahead, and unless the scholarship application indicates otherwise, you can organize your application packet in the following order…
No need to make this complicated, unless you are more specifically directed, put only the name of the scholarship you are applying for, your name, and the date on the front page.
Scholarship applications often include essay questions. Many of the questions ask about your passions and future goals. You might also be asked to write about your family, community, values, and strengths. Make sure to have a strong introduction and conclusion in your essay, and have several people proofread your writing before you turn in anything. A concise, well developed, grammatically correct essay is the goal here, so don’t wait until the last minute to start writing. If you prepare yourself now by writing two different essays describing yourself and your future career goals (about 500 words each), then when you get ready to apply for scholarships you will already have solid material to work with.
Many scholarships will ask for recommendation letters. To simplify this process, make a list of people who could write you a recommendation letter, and include their phone number and email address. Teachers, coaches, employers, and leaders of nonprofit organizations you are involved in are all great resources for recommendations. Make sure you give people enough time to write the letter well in advance of the scholarship deadline, and provide them all the information they will need to complete and send the letter, including a copy of the scholarship application and a copy of your activities resume for their reference. Be sure to thank them afterward!
Create a thorough and organized resume for yourself. Microsoft Word has a Resume Wizard that might be helpful to you as you format your page. Try to keep your resume to one page, but don’t leave out valuable information trying to keep it short. At the top of the page include your name, address, email, and telephone number. Then, choose your strongest points and organize your resume accordingly. Common sections on a resume are: Academic or Education, Work Experience, Awards received, Activities and Interests. If you speak more than one language, or have a unique hobby, find a place to put these things on your resume as well. Design an attractive layout, leaving a one-inch margin on all sides and using Capital letters, bold fonts, or indentation where needed. Do not use symbols, photographs, or colored paper to try and make your resume stand out.
You may also be asked to submit your official transcript with the scholarship application. Be aware that requesting a transcript may take up to two weeks. If you know you will be applying for scholarships, you may want to request for a few official transcripts to have on file. At Springs Charter Schools our transcript technician, Terry Pflaumer, will help you with this. You can reach her at 951-252-8836, or email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name, birth date, the number of transcripts requested and the address where they should be sent.
Some scholarship applications may also require you to submit additional documentation such as, a copy of your SAT/ACT scores, a copy of your letter of acceptance to a University, a copy of awards and recognitions you have received, or a letter from your parents indicating the financial assistance required.
Caution: Most scholarship applications can be found for free. If you are asked to pay for a scholarship list or service, be cautious. You may be paying for something that you don’t need. For more information about scholarship scams go to Federal Trade Commission – Scholarship Scams.
Scholarship search websites:
Please download the following monthly scholarship guide from U.S. Congresswoman Lucielle Roybal-Allard – last updated September 2014: Paying for College Guide
Scholarship Experts – One of the best, most comprehensive free online scholarship searches available to students, parents, and educators.
Broke Scholar has a data base with more than 650,000 scholarships with a total value of more than $2.5 billion.
College Answer – Sponsored by Sallie Mae, they use the Scholarship Experts data base.
College Data – This free scholarship search allows students to save results in a “data locker”.
CollegeFunds – Their website says, “CollegeFunds.net helps you hunt down the most ideal student loan, scholarships and other financial aid resources available to you!”
College Connection Scholarships – This service provides free scholarship searches and personalized scholarship application letters.
College Tool Kit -These folks allow you to search for scholarships by geography, heritage, religion, extra curriculars, family affiliation, high school, or scholarship name.
eCampus Tours – The eCampusTours search uses a database of more than 10,000 scholarship programs that distribute awards worth more than $36 million.
Financial Aid Officer – This free scholarship search engine lists scholarships worth $1.45 billion.
FastAid – These folks say they are, “The World’s largest and oldest private sector scholarship database”.
Find Tuition – This free scholarship search site lists $24 billion in scholarships.
Gates Millennium Scholarships
Asian American Scholarships
Native American Scholarships
Avoid Scholarship Fraud – www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams