The Ultimate Guide to College Scholarships
Introduction: What Is This Guide All About?
Scholarships. What are they? How do they work? What does it take to apply for them? These are common questions that run through every student’s mind at one point or another.
In ‘The Ultimate Guide To College Scholarships‘, we answer all of these important questions and explain exactly what you need to do to get money to fund your education. Whether you’re a high school senior ready to graduate or a college junior mid-way through your degree, you’ll gain all the tools you need to successfully apply for scholarships. Your success is our success.
By the end of your training, you will understand:
- How to choose the perfect college
- The importance of college scholarships
- Different types of college scholarships
- The right way to apply for scholarships
- How to improve your chances of getting a scholarship
- The Do’s and Don’ts of scholarship essays
- How to spot a scholarship scam
…And much more!
Keep reading to learn everything you will ever need to know about applying for a college scholarship, and soon you will be on your way to a debt-free degree!
Is College Right For You?
Getting a college education could be the best decision you’ll ever make in life, but the fact is that college is not for everyone. Sure, we could tell you that going to college is the only way you will succeed in life, but there are plenty of careers in the world that don’t require a college education. It is up to you to determine whether or not you need a degree to meet your goals for the future.
Quick Facts About College Degrees
As you can see, there are a number of life-changing benefits that come from going to college. If you choose a career that requires a college education, chances are you will earn more money and enjoy better security in the future.
- Graduates with 4-year degrees make 98% more money an hour than non-graduates
- Not going to college will cost you an average of $500,000 in a lifetime
- The unemployment rate for 25-34 year olds with a degree is only 3%
- The average hourly wage for a college graduate is $32.60
When College Isn’t the Right Fit
Despite the benefits of getting a college education, there are some situations where getting a degree is not the best choice for you. The most common reason would be if you plan to pursue a career that does not require a degree. This will most likely be a labor-intensive career like oil rigging, construction, landscaping, or welding. It could still be financially secure, but it will probably be more physically demanding than a college-bound career.
Furthermore, college may not be a good fit is because the debt accumulated through your educational journey. The money you’d earn with a degree might not make up for the money spent on tuition, books, fees, etc. Although scholarships can relieve you of some of these expenses, you still need to see if a degree will pay off for your career of interest.
Getting A Degree, No Matter What
Even if you plan to have a career that doesn’t require a college education, you may want to pursue a degree to improve your long-term earning potential and your abilities to move up in your industry. For instance, you may be able to take up a management position at your workplace because you have a bachelor’s degree. Employers value education and reward it accordingly.
If you want to spend the rest of your life working hard to earn a living, you may not need a college education. However, if you want to enjoy a life of leadership, relaxation, and stability, you may want to adjust your goals to fit a college degree. This simple decision will determine your success, stress, and security in the future. Make it count.
Different Types of Colleges
Choosing the right college is the first step in ensuring that you have a good education. The best school for someone else may not be the best school for you, so you have to weigh your options to determine which one is the perfect fit.
Let’s take a look at different types of colleges to figure out where you should apply.
Traditional universities usually offer four-year bachelor’s degree programs. Many universities have on-site graduate schools that allow students to earn their master’s degrees and doctorates if they need to. There are different types of four-year universities to attend, and some cost more money than others. These schools offer a wide range of degree programs to suit any career goal.
Community colleges are small, two-year schools that offer associate’s degrees, career certificates, and other entry-level educational options. Some students apply to a two-year community college in order to save money and eventually transfer to a four-year institution. Community colleges are much cheaper to attend than traditional universities, and they offer enough classes to cover the basics for most four-year degrees.
Public and Private Universities
Students have the choice to choose between a private or a public educational institution. Although private institutions tend to have higher tuition rates, some students prefer private universities because they have smaller class sizes and more specialized degree programs. Public institutions have a tendency to be a lot cheaper but still offer great degree opportunities.
If you can secure enough scholarship money to pay for a private college, you may be able to get a specialized degree that will greatly improve your earning potential.
In-State and Out-of-State Colleges
There is also the option of going to college in the state you currently live in or studying in another state. Out-of-state colleges tend to charge more money for students who are not from their area, which could increase college costs dramatically. Public in-state colleges have the cheapest tuition rates by far, so you may want to compare the costs before selecting a school to attend.
International Colleges and Universities
Many students study abroad for part of their degree program so they can immerse themselves in other cultures. This is especially beneficial for people who are pursuing degrees in international diplomacy, world history, and foreign languages. If your career involves working with other cultures, you may choose to complete part of your education at an international university.
Online Colleges and Universities
Many college degree programs are now available entirely on the internet. If you require a more flexible schedule, an online college may be right for you. Some students also choose to get a hybrid degree, which involves some online classes and some on-campus classes. If you would like to earn a degree from home, distance learning may be the perfect fit for you.
Choosing the Right College for You
Understanding the different types of colleges is a crucial part in selecting the right college for you, but it’s not the only thing you have to think about. Check out these quick tips to make sure you get into the perfect school from the start.
Step 1: Set Your Career Goals
Figure out what you want to do in life, and then determine what education you need to start your career.
Step 2: Find Schools That Offer Your Degree Program
Narrow down your choices by finding schools that offer the specific degree program you need. Keep in mind that there may be several different programs that lead to your career.
Step 3: Compare the Pros and Cons
Compare your favorite colleges side-by-side based on the following factors:
- Tuition rates
- Admissions requirements
- Semester schedules
- Financial aid opportunities
- Online vs. campus-based classes
Step 4: Fill Out Your Applications
Complete applications for your top 3-5 picks and hope that you get accepted!
The Importance of Scholarships In College
It’s no secret that college is expensive, but most people don’t realize just how high the cost of a college degree has become over the years. Based on statistics, the average bachelor’s degree from a pubic four-year, in-state university costs about $74,000. That’s a lot of money to pay out of pocket.
What are Scholarships and How Can They Help?
Scholarships are a form of financial aid that you do not have to pay for. Unlike student loans that must be paid back over time, scholarships are free sources of money for your higher level education. If you earn the right amount of scholarships early on, you won’t have to worry about excessive debt when you graduate.
Average Cost of College Per Year
Prices include tuition, fees, room, and board.
- $11,052 for a Public Two-Year, In-State College
- $18,493 for a Public Four-Year, In-State College
- $32,762 for a Public Four-Year, Out-Of-State College
- $42,419 for a Private Four-Year College (Any Location)
When You Should Start Looking For College Scholarships
It’s never too early to start looking for college scholarships. Most students start searching for scholarships toward the end of their junior year in high school as part of their college prep. However, there are some students even begin applying during their freshman year. The sooner you start applying, the better your chances are of getting enough money to pay for college.
Types of College Scholarships
There are millions of scholarships in the world, and you may qualify for any number of them. Once you understand the different types of scholarships available to you, you can apply for the ones that fit your lifestyle, career goals, and current commitments.
Here is an overview of some common scholarship options that you can look through.
Academic scholarships are issued to students who perform well in school. Acceptance is based on a student’s grade point average, test scores, and academic awards. These scholarships are usually extremely competitive, but also incredibly rewarding. Many National Merit Scholars (those who score well on the PSAT) are able to have their entire education paid for just because of their academic merit.
These scholarships are meant for students who play sports. Tennis, football, basketball, golf, wrestling, swimming, baseball, volleyball…you get the idea. Some athletic scholarships are awarded to players in specific sports and others are given out to athletes in general.
Many students who earn athletic scholarships commit to playing or their college team as part of their scholarship requirements. Colleges and universities use athletic scholarships as incentives to recruit the best players to be on their teams.
If you have a knack for painting, photography, poetry, music, or any of the arts, you may qualify for a creative scholarship. There are many competitions out there that provide scholarship money for students who think outside the box. For example, Duck Brand Duct Tape offers a scholarship every year for students who make their prom outfits out of duct tape. Put your creative mind to good use, and you could earn money for college.
These scholarships are issued to people who fit into certain minority classes. Minority students are those who are considered under-represented in the collegiate world. Examples of minority students include:
- Hispanic students
- American-Indian students
- African-American students
- Asian students
- Members of the LGBT community
- Non-Traditional students (age 35+)
There are over thousands of scholarships offered specifically to minority students. If you fit into a minority category, you could take advantage of the many financial aid opportunities out there for you.
Faith-based scholarships are offered to students practicing a specific type of religion, such as Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. Even students who do not to identify with a religion (atheists, agnostics, etc.) can earn scholarships based on their religious views. Many private organizations and businesses offer faith-based scholarships to students who embody the teachings of a certain way-of-life.
There are many scholarships available for students who have an illness or disability that leads them to learn in a unique way. Examples of handicap scholarships include:
- Blind scholarships
- Deaf scholarships
- Wheelchair-bound scholarships
- Cancer scholarships
- Amputee scholarships
- Dyslexia scholarships
Check with the organizations that advocate for your form of handicap, and you may find a number of great scholarship options.
Other student-specific scholarships include scholarships for foster children, firefighters, military servicemen and their dependents, home-schooled children, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, single parents, and more. Figure out what sets you apart from the crowd, and you may very well find a scholarship made just for you.
Scholarships vs. Grants vs. Student Loans
Financial aid is primarily broken into three categories: scholarships, grants, and student loans. All of these options can help you pay for your education, but they work in different ways. By understanding the differences between scholarships, grants, and student loans, you can effectively find the right way to pay for college.
Scholarships and Grants
Scholarships and grants are both forms of financial aid that you do not have to pay back after graduating. This money can be applied to your tuition, fees, supplies, etc. without a commitment to repay.
The difference between scholarships and grants lies in the way you earn the funding.
Most scholarships are merit-based. They are issued to students who uphold a certain GPA or maintain an outstanding record in sports, community service, or other activities.
On the other hand, grants are usually need-based. They are given to students who prove that they do not have a sufficient income level to pay for their education. A prime example of this is the Federal Pell Grant, which is available to students who complete their FAFSA. Students may receive over $5,000 a year to apply to their college education if their FAFSA indicates a strong financial need.
Scholarships are often funded by private organizations, while grants are funded by government entities. You should consider both options when applying for financial aid because they could significantly reduce your academic debt.
Opposite to scholarships and grants, student loans have to be repaid. These loans act just like any other loan you may take out, with monthly payments, interest rates, and long-term debt.
The key difference between a student loan and a personal loan is that student loan payments can be deferred until you finish your degree. You have up to six months after you graduate to begin paying back your loans.
Student loans are available through the federal government and private lenders. Some of the most common forms of student loans include:
- Stafford loans (Subsidized And unsubsidized)
- Perkins loans
- Parent loans for undergraduate students (PLUS Loans)
- Grad PLUS loans
- Health professions student loans
- Private student loans (Sallie Mae, Discover, Wells Fargo, Etc.)
Recipients can repay student loans through installment plans that can last up to 25 years. Monthly payments are based on personal income, debt levels, interest rates, and loan terms.
Student loans cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy, and payments may eventually be garnished from your wages if you refuse to pay them. That is why it is important to get as many scholarships as possible to avoid student loans.
You can graduate debt-free!
Where To Find College Scholarships
No matter how old you are or what major you plan to enroll in, you can apply for college scholarships. All you need to know is where to look for scholarships, and then you can start collecting more money for your education. Below is a list of some of the best places to find scholarships.
By far, the best place to find scholarships nowadays is the internet. Most scholarship committees have moved their award applications to the web because they can save paper and collect applications more easily. Rather than sorting through hundreds of paper applications, they can just click through emails and messages. This means you can conveniently apply for awards from the comfort of your own home, so everybody wins when you look for scholarships online.
You can find thousands of scholarships on the internet, and many of them will offer a full ride to school. Use a website like ScholarshipOwl.com to quickly and easily sort through scholarships online, giving you a wide range of applications to fill out in no time.
Your College or University
Your school is another great resource for scholarship information, especially if you are currently a college student. The financial aid advisors at your college have access to many scholarship opportunities throughout the year, and many of those may only be offered exclusively through your school. Some scholarship committees send their scholarships to financial aid offices for promotion, as opposed to putting them on the internet. If you establish a good connection with a financial aid representative, you may be able to get scholarship information that no one else has.
Occasionally, some local businesses will hold small scholarship programs as a way to give back to their communities. For instance, a bank in your area might run a campaign called “We Pay For A’s,” where they pull report cards from a bin and pay money for every A on the card. Monitor the local newspapers and newscasts to see if there are any businesses near you offering scholarship programs. You may also check with your place of work to see if they have a scholarship program for their employees.
Sometimes you can find scholarships through masonic lodges, churches, and charities that have a special fund set up for college students. If you are already involved with a club or organization in the area, ask them if they have a scholarship program to apply to. They will be more likely to work with you than someone else because you are affiliated with their group.
You can find scholarships anywhere you look, as long as you put your mind to it. Commit some time to researching scholarships, and you should find a plethora of them to apply for.
The Right Way to Apply for Scholarships
If you have never applied for a scholarship before, the process may seem overwhelming. At first it may take hours to complete a single scholarship application, depending on the requirements set by the award committee.
Every scholarship has a different set of requirements, but they all follow the same basic steps in the end. Take a look below at the right way to apply for college scholarships.
Step 1: Read the Instructions Carefully
As we mentioned above, every scholarship application is a little different. Read the instructions carefully so you can meet all of the requirements. There should be specific guidelines on how to submit the application, by when, to whom to address it, etc. Don’t assume you know what the scholarship committee wants until you have read over the instructions.
Step 2: Prepare Your Documents
Chances are you will need to turn in some or all of the following:
- Driver’s license or picture ID
- Proof of income (or proof of your parents’ income)
- Proof of acceptance or enrollment
- Your latest report card
- Test scores (ACT, SAT, PSAT, etc.)
You may also be asked to provide a specific document related to the scholarship, like proof of your tribal registration if you are a Native American student. Save copies of these documents on your computer so they are easily accessible when you need to fill out an application.
Step 3: Fill Out the Application Entirely
Make sure to complete all lines on the application form, and re-read them before turning in your application. Your application may be rejected just because you missed an important component of the form. Complete all short- answer and essay sections with in-depth information that addresses the prompt correctly. One-sentence answers will not suffice.
Step 4: Read Over and Edit Your Answers
Read your information carefully to check for typos and grammar errors. Even a small mistake will show the scholarship committee you do not care about your application, which will ultimately cost you the award.
Step 5: Submit Your Application
Turn in your scholarship application before the deadline to secure your spot in the competition.
Pro Tip 1: Complete Your FAFSA
Many scholarships, grants, and student loans are only available to students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In fact, you may be required to complete your FAFSA before applying for any financial aid opportunities through your school.
Your FAFSA shows colleges and financial aid communities that you are in need of financial assistance based on your or your family’s income. Fill out a new application every year, and you will be able to maximize your scholarship opportunities.
Before You Fill Out Your FAFSA…
Before you complete your FAFSA, make sure that you have completed your most recent tax returns. In the event you are using your parent’s income for your application, you will need access to their tax returns.
You will also need to apply for a Federal Student Aid PIN. This is a four-digit number that you will enter every time you complete a FAFSA. It acts as a password for your account, as well as a secondary form of identity verification.
Step 1: Start Your FAFSA
Visit https://fafsa.ed.gov/ to begin your financial aid application. Click on the “Start A New FAFSA” button to open your application window.
If you have already completed a FAFSA before, you can simply log into your existing account to add a school, make a correction, or view your Student Aid Report. You can also log in if you have started an application but had to save it for a later time. In both instances, you will need to use the password you set at the beginning of the application.
Step 2: Complete Your Profile Information
Complete each of the fields on the FAFSA, including your first name, last name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. Each of the text boxes open up a “Help and Hints” section on the side that will explain what kind of information you need to input in the document. When you complete all of the necessary information, click the “Next” arrow to move on to the second step of the app.
Step 3: Renew, Edit, or Start Your FAFSA
If you have already completed a FAFSA in previous years, you can renew your information from the previous year and save time on your overall application. Simply select the “FAFSA Renewal” button, and the form will automatically generate some of your information for you.
If you need to add a school or make an adjustment to a previous year’s FAFSA, click on the tab corresponding to the year you need and complete your edits accordingly.
Otherwise, if you are starting a completely new application, select the “Start New FAFSA” button to officially begin the process.
Step 4: Create a Password
Create a password to use in case you need to save your application and submit it at another time. Pay close attention to the “Help and Hints” section for this part because it shows what features you need to have in your password. Make sure this is a password you will be able to remember if you need to log back into the site.
Re-enter your password information and move on to the next step.
Step 5: Read Through the Introduction Text
You should be given a series of links to helpful guides related to the FAFSA and financial aid in general. These guides may be able to answer some questions you have about your application. If you do not need any help, you can move on to the profile section of the application.
Step 6: Complete Your FAFSA
The remaining steps of this process involve filling out information on your FAFSA. Go through each step one-by-one, paying close attention to the instructions FAFSA lays out for you.
If you have filled out a FAFSA before, a lot of the information may already be completed for you. Verify that it is still accurate and correct any errors you come across along the way.
Step 7: Sign and Submit Your FAFSA
Once your entire application is complete, you will reach the “Sign & Submit” page. Complete the last pieces of information on there and send your FAFSA off for review. Your school will receive a copy of the results in a few weeks.
Pro Tip 2: Speed Up the Application Process
Completing scholarship applications takes time, but there are some simple things you can do to speed up your applications dramatically. Follow this checklist to maximize the number of scholarships you can apply for:
Pre-Write Your Scholarship Essays
Most scholarships require you to complete an essay related to your life in college or the topic of the scholarship. These essays vary from one award to the next, but many of them follow the same themes. Pre-write essays that fit the most common themes, and you will only have to tweak them. This will save you lots of time in the long run, especially if you plan to apply for a wide range of awards. Common scholarship essay topics include:
- What Will This Scholarship Do For You?
- What Is The Most Important Lesson You Have Learned So Far In Life?
- Describe An Influential Figure In Your Life And Explain What You Have Learned From Him/Her
- How Will College Change Your Life For The Future?
- Why Is It Important For You To Earn A College Degree?
- What Advice Would You Give Another Student Applying For College Next Year?
- Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
Save drafts of basic essays to adapt to different scholarship applications, and you won’t have to write a new essay every time.
Use a Scholarship Search Engine
Use a scholarship search engine like ScholarshipOwl.com to help you find a large volume of scholarships in a short amount of time. You can search for scholarships based on your grade level, age, gender, race, academic standing, location, and more. ScholarshipOwl will save you from scouring the internet for hours because all of your awards will be in one location. Check back on your account regularly- new scholarships are added all the time.
Save Your Application Information Online
Programs like LastPass allow you to save form information online so you don’t have to re-enter it every time. LastPass will store your information in a secure account that you can log into with a master password. All you have to do is click a button and the program will fill out the basic information on your application form. This includes your:
- Phone Number
- Social Security Number
- Credit Card Number (If Applicable)
You decide what LastPass does and does not store, so you can protect your personal and financial information if you want to. This just makes the process of filling out applications easier over time.
Fill Out Several Applications At Once
Rather than filling out one application at a time, try completing a couple of them at once so you can go through the same steps at the same time. This is easiest to do when you fill out applications on the internet because you can pull up separate tabs for separate applications. Just make sure you keep track of what you need to do for each application so you do not skip over an important step.
Pro Tip 3: Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved
Getting a college scholarship may seem downright impossible nowadays, but it may be easier than you think. If you prepare well ahead of time, you should have no trouble winning some awards to help you pay for college.
The key to all of this is to adjust your education and activities to accommodate what most scholarship committees are looking for. When you portray yourself well on an application, you are more likely to earn money to fund your education.
Here are some tips to help you improve your chances of getting a college scholarship.
Keep Your Grades Up
Having high grades gives you the best chance of getting into college, and it will also give you the best chance of earning a scholarship to pay for school. You may think that your grades are not important now, but they could impact the amount of debt you owe in the future. Make an effort to do well on your tests, essays, and homework assignments so that scholarship committees will see that you value your education.
Participate in Extracurricular Activities
Judging panels like to see applicants that are well rounded, so you need to make an effort to participate in activities outside of school. Join a club, play sports, or become an active member of the community. The more involved you are, the better your chances of winning will be. Just make sure you don’t stretch yourself too thin because that hurt your grades in school. Get involved just enough to impress the review board, and you’ll be happy that you spent the time doing so.
Become a Leader
When you have the opportunity to become a leader in an organization- take it. Scholarship committees often look for leadership characteristics when they assess their applicants. Leaders are the ones that often do well in college because they want to excel at what they do. If you illustrate your leadership potential to a scholarship review board, you may win money to support your goals in life.
Volunteer in the Community
Judging panels love to see community service information on applications. This shows that an applicant is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to help others improve their lives. You should join a local organization that serves the community or volunteer at events whenever you have free time. Any project that you help out with will make a difference in your scholarship applications.
Think about the qualities that would portray you as an outstanding college student and show them off in your scholarship applications.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Scholarship Essays
Essays are one of the most important features in most scholarship applications. These papers tell the scholarship committee who you are and why they should choose you as a recipient. If your academic record is unimpressive, your essay gives you an opportunity to grab the judges’ attentions.
Before you write your scholarship essay, consider the following information:
The Do’s of Essay Writing:
- Read the prompt thoroughly
- Come up with a creative angle for your essay
- Meet the minimum word count requirements
- Put a personal touch on your story
- Brainstorm before you write
- Make sure your writing is well organized
- Proofread for grammar and spelling mistakes
The Don’ts of Essay Writing:
- Write a generic story with no meaning
- Plagiarize content or pay someone to write for you
- Lie just to make a good story
- Overthink your writing
- Forget who your audience is
- Wait until the last minute to write your essay
- Turn your essay in without re-reading it
Key Components of Winning Scholarship Essays
Even though every scholarship is a little different, most winning essays have the same basic components in them. These include:
- No punctuation errors, typos, or grammar mistakes
- Clear, concise flow from beginning to end
- A thesis, backed by supporting statements
- A direct message that addresses the prompt
- Personal information that ties the applicant to the subject matter
- A defined introduction, body, and conclusion
- A length that fits the guidelines of the scholarship without being excessive
If you can formulate your essays with these components, you will have a much better chance at success.
Believe it or not, there are some scholarships out there that do not require essays at all. These are usually $500 to $5,000 in value, and they are given to students through a drawing several times a year.
Finding no essay scholarships is fairly easy. Many scholarship websites and online organizations offer scholarships without essays. All you have to do is complete the minimal information the site asks for, and you will be entered for a chance to win a scholarship. This could be as simple as your name, email address, and college.
No essay scholarships are great awards to apply for, considering that they require barely any work at all. In most instances, a winner is chosen at random and students are not required to prove themselves with their grades or their writing skills. Consider this as another avenue to take when applying for financial aid.
Scholarship Tips for International Students
Students from other countries who pursue an education in the United States often have difficulties securing financial aid. This is because scholarship and grant programs usually require students to be citizens or residents of a particular area to apply. With this in mind, there are a few ways international students can earn scholarships for college.
Apply for International Student Scholarships
There are a number of scholarship opportunities out there specifically for international college students. Schools are looking to attract new students so they will try to help students pay for their education.
You may apply for international student scholarships using a program like ScholarshipOwl.com, or you may apply directly through your school.
Participate in Work-Study Programs
Work-study programs help you pay for college and build job experience at the same time. Most of these programs involve community service or work related to your future career. You can learn a lot about the job you want to pursue, all while earning money for college.
Ask a Native English Speaker to Read Over Your Essays
If your English skills are not strong, you can ask a native English speaker to read over your scholarship application essays. Professors, counselors, and peers may all work with you to make your essays compelling and error-free. Create a strong message in your writing and you will greatly improve your chances of getting a scholarship.
Maintain Good Grades in School
Whether you are already studying in the U.S. or planning to do so in the future, your grades play a big role in determining your scholarship eligibility. Make sure to maintain good grades so you can apply for the best awards possible. Hard-working international students may qualify for a full ride to college with the right grades, test scores, and overall work-ethic. Show financial assistance groups that you are worth financially supporting.
Be Active in Your Community
Community service may also play a role in your international student scholarship applications. Scholarship committees love to see applicants who are making a difference in the world. Volunteer with a local organization to plant trees, clean up the streets, educate young people, teach another language, or anything else that improves someone else’s life. You will feel better about yourself and will have a great achievement to put on your applications.
How to Recognize Scholarship Scams
Sadly, not all scholarships offered online are legitimate. Some people create fake scholarships on the internet to collect personal information and money from students. Before you become a victim of a scholarship scam, you need to know what to watch out for.
The Award Seems Too Good to be True
Fraudulent scholarship providers often set up fake websites to tempt students to apply for their scholarships. They look for ways to make their scholarship offers look so good that people feel compelled to apply. When an award seems too good to be true, chances are it is.
You Have to Pay to Apply
If a scholarship requires students to pay a fee upfront, most of the time it’s a scam. There are times when a non-profit organization will require an application fee to help pay for the scholarship, but in most cases scholarships are free from start to finish. When you have to put your credit card “on file” just to apply for the scholarship, it is probably not a legitimate offer.
Be particularly leery of pop-up ads that say something along the lines of: “You were selected as the winner of our $5,000 scholarship.” Most of these will ask you to pay a processing fee in order to get your money. The fraudsters will take your financial information and steal your money. Be careful who you give your personal information to.
You are Guaranteed to Win
Scholarship scams often guarantee students that they will win the scholarship. Think about all of those flashing ads you see on the side of spam websites or the junk mail offers you throw away because you were a “lucky winner.” These scholarship offers fall into the same category. Ignore the guarantees and strive for something you must work for.
They Have No Previous Winners or Reviews
Almost all legitimate scholarships have a list of previous winners, but scholarship scams do not. If they do have testimonials on their website from “previous owners”, they usually sound forced and fake. Look for reviews about the company or organization before you give out your information, and see if they are registered with the Better Business Bureau. You may find out they are trying to scam you long before you fill out your information.
Online Resources for College Scholarships
Use the following resources to learn even more about college scholarships and ways to pay for your education.
Helpful Guides From ScholarshipOwl:
Resources for Scholarship Essays:
- Examples of Winning Scholarship Essays
- Scholarship Essay Editing Services
- Common Essay Questions and How To Handle Them
- Free Plagiarism Checker
- Copyscape Plagiarism Checker (Paid, More Accurate)
Resources of Scholarship Webinars:
- The Scholarship Workshop
- Boren Scholarship Webinars for International Students
- FullBright Scholarship Webinars
- Free Scholarship Webinars
Resources for Federal Student Aid:
- Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- FAFSA FAQ
- Estimate Your Aid
- Federal Scholarships And Loans
Resources for College Placement:
Resources for No-Essay Scholarships
- Niche $2,000 Scholarship
- Scholarship Detective $1,000 Scholarship
- Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation
Conclusion: What Have You Learned?
Over the course of this post, we have gone over the importance of scholarships in college and what it takes to compose a successful scholarship application. By now, you should know exactly what you need to do to apply for money to fund your education.
Before you officially head off to fill out your apps, consider the following:
- Know which scholarships are best for you and find as many of them as you can
- Use ScholarshipOwl.com to easily find scholarships online
- Remember that it is never too early to start applying for college scholarships
- Set a quota for yourself every week for your scholarship applications
- Continue applying for new scholarships after you earn financial aid to reduce your student loans even further
Follow all of the tips in The Ultimate Guide To College Scholarships and you will be paying for school in no time!