searching for scholarships

5 Things Everyone Should Know About Scholarships

Whenever there is mention of college, the conversation about scholarships isn’t far behind. But what are scholarships? How can you get them? How much are they worth? Who awards them? With the cost of higher education continually rising, students should take a proactive approach in locating scholarship opportunities to help cover their college expenses. We believe students should set reasonable goals and be aware of a few important things as they search for scholarships. Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce five things we think everyone should know about scholarships, starting with Part One below.

Tip #1: Scholarships are sometimes closer than you think!

Dig into your network! Do you belong to a church group or a local chapter of some national club? Are either of your parents or guardians members of a union or civic group; are they currently serving in the military or a veteran? Does either of them work for a large corporation? Many of these types of organizations offer scholarships to affiliates and their children, and some of these options may be much closer than you think. There is often less competition for these as well, since they are awarded at the local level.

Let’s take a look at the various categories of scholarship providers that can be targeted when searching for local scholarships.

Community, Business, and Civic Organizations

Many community organizations, clubs, and groups provide scholarships to college bound students. Check with any community organizations and inquire about available scholarship programs. Examples of community organizations include your local Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, or Elks Club (and similar types of membership organizations).

Religious Affiliations

If you have a particular religious affiliation, you may want to inquire about scholarships available for participating members. Students or family with a connection to a specific church or temple, or that have another religious or spiritual connection should inquire about available support from leadership of their affiliation. You can also talk to members of your religious community who may have been through the process in the past to get a sense of their successes in this area.

Employers

Many employers, especially those with large numbers of employees, offer scholarship programs for dependent children of employees. It is important to contact the Human Resource Department to inquire whether they have scholarship programs, and if so to determine the respective deadlines and application procedures. There may be additional qualifications beyond employment, so be sure to ask for the details!

Current Military Members and Veterans

There are scholarship programs for dependents (or relatives) of those serving in the military and military veterans. Each branch of the military offers scholarship programs of some kind as do many local military affiliations. These program offerings may change often and definitely have specific qualification requirements, procedures, and guidelines, because the money is coming from the federal government.

High School Guidance Department

At the majority of high schools, guidance counselors will have information about local scholarships similar to those listed above. In addition to tapping into your local connections, it is very important for students to visit their guidance office to seek out local scholarship opportunities that are managed at the high school level. Your counselor is an asset in many ways, and helping you to identify meaningful, valuable scholarship dollars is just one of many ways her or she can make an impact on your college search and college funding!

For more scholarship tips and advice, listen to the Getting In: A College Coach Conversation segment on this topic – Getting an Early Start: College Admissions and Finance.


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Written by Jan Combs
Jan Combs is a college finance expert at College Coach. Before joining College Coach, Jan was Director of Financial Aid at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Boston University.