Finding Scholarships: It's Worth the Effort
Would you turn down a part-time job that paid between $50 and $100 an hour? Of course not! But if you think it’s not worth your time to apply for scholarships, you may be doing just that. If you spend 10 to 20 hours on scholarship applications and you are awarded just one worth $1,000, you just made $50 to $100 an hour for the time you spent!
- Start searching for opportunities early and take advantage of these tips to help you with the process:
- Find as many opportunities as you can. The more scholarships you apply for, the more you can potentially win. However, read the requirements and make sure you are eligible before you spend your valuable time completing an application. Applications will not be considered if you do not meet their eligibility criteria. Learn about scholarship opportunities specifically for students in your community by talking to your school counselor, city leaders and community organizations. In addition, Iowa College Aid links to many reputable scholarships searches from their website.
- No scholarship is too small. What do you consider small? $500? $1000? That “small” amount could cover your cost of books for a semester. Several small scholarships can quickly add up and reduce your need to borrow student loans.
- Seek out help. Some scholarships will require an essay or letters of recommendation. When determining whom to ask to write a recommendation, seek out someone knowledgeable about the subject. For example, if volunteerism is among the scholarship’s eligibility criteria, ask your supervisor from an organization where you volunteered to write one for you. Request an English teacher, counselor or other strong writer to read over your essays and provide feedback. Be sure to express your gratitude for the assistance and send a thank-you.
- Keep track of deadlines. It is CRUCIAL to meet scholarship deadlines. Mark a calendar or utilize another reminder system to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines. Start work on applications, letters of recommendation and essay topics as early as possible so you aren’t overwhelmed later on.
- Know how to stay eligible. After you receive notification that you were awarded a scholarship, be sure to follow the proper steps to receive the aid. You may need to officially accept the offer, attend a scholarship donor event or write a thank-you note. If the scholarship is renewable, determine the steps you must take each year to continue to receive it. You also may be required to be in ‘good academic standing’ which often involves maintaining a certain enrollment status and minimum GPA among other factors.