For many high school seniors, and college students alike, it might just be a few hours of your time. We know in today’s economy families are trying to make every dollar stretch as far as they can and sometimes the financial aid offered through federal and state government and colleges or universities just aren’t enough. Colleges and universities are spending every dime they have to help students just like you, but if you want a piece of the pie from all the dollars that go unspent every year you just might have to commit to a little time.
Outside scholarships are scholarships that are awarded outside of the normal financial aid processes and available through community groups, Fortune 500 companies and professional organizations. But how do you find these scholarships? There are a number of ways…I recommend starting with your high school guidance office. Your advisor has most likely been developing a list of scholarship opportunities from community and service organizations such as: Optimists, Kiwanis and Dollars for Scholars. Your parents may even be an unrealized source through their involvement in religious, social and trade memberships such as the Knights of Columbus, Masonic Lodge and the union local.
The corporate pages of Fortune 500 companies and scholarship search engines like Fastweb.com, College Board Scholarship Search and Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search are just a few good online sources. Many corporations will provide college scholarships for students who qualify, so it does not hurt to search the corporate website for scholarships. The scholarship search engines will ask for students to register and complete a student profile so the student can be matched up with possible scholarship opportunities. There are no guarantees and you still have to apply for the scholarships, these websites do give you a start in locating scholarships for which you may apply. One piece of advice set up a separate email account just for your scholarship search; some sites, not all, will sell email addresses to keep the service free.
- Start now and keep looking. Not all scholarships are offered at the same time.
- Apply, apply, apply! Cast a wide net by applying for as many scholarships as you can – you are bound to catch something.
- Don’t discount any scholarship. A $100 can go a long way.
- Scholarship opportunities are not limited to graduating high school seniors. It is important that you apply every year.
- A little time and effort can net results. Don’t overlook a scholarship because the application requires an essay or additional information that may time to create. Consider the amount of time it takes in relation to the potential return.
Associate Director of Financial Aid