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Scholarships are a great free way to help pay for college! There five main types of scholarships available.

  • Merit-Based: This is exactly what it sounds like – scholarships based on accomplishments in academics or other fields. These are amongst the most competitive scholarships, but also some of the most beneficial.Athletic
  • Athletic Scholarships: Athletic scholarships are one of the most highly visible, and fiercely competitive, merit scholarships available. Students hoping for an athletic scholarship have to demonstrate both a high level of ability in their sport of choice, as well as a solid academic background. College recruiters are always looking for the best athletes to bring to their campus, but competition is high. The time to start thinking about an athletic scholarship is early in your high school career. For more information about becoming a Collegiate Athlete, click here.
  • Student-Specific: Whatever your race, gender, or belief system, there is probably a scholarship out there for you. Since this type of scholarship requires the candidate to meet specific qualifications, you’re competing against a smaller pool of candidates.
  • Career-Specific: You’ve probably heard of these – if a student wants to enter a specific high-need, career, they might have their entire ride at college paid for. But be cautious – you may be required to work later in locations where need is greatest. But, if you know what you want to do and can handle – for example – a few years teaching in extreme remote locations or tending the ills found in an inner-city hospital, there is no better deal out there.
  • Need-Based: These are scholarships awarded through your regular FAFSA application. While the federal government hands them out on a general basis, every school will handle their end differently.

To help you navigate through scholarship applications, your counselors have compiled a list of help tips on winning scholarships and avoiding scams. 


Top 15 Tips on Winning a Scholarship

1.   Start searching for scholarships as soon as possible. Don’t wait until spring of your senior year in high school to start searching, or you’ll miss half the deadlines. There are many scholarships available to students in grades 9, 10 and 11, not just high school seniors. 

2.   Answer ALL of the optional questions on a scholarship matching web site (like fastweb.com) for about twice as many matches.

3.   Don’t miss deadlines!

4.   Use a free scholarship search to speed up the search process.

5.   Don’t forget to search you’re the college website where you are applying. Sometimes college’s will offer their own scholarships.

6.   Look for local scholarships by clicking here or checking with the guidance office.

7.   Apply to every scholarship for which you are eligible. Pursue less competitive scholarships, such as small awards and essay contests, since they are easier to win.

8.  Don’t count out small award scholarships. Since there is no limit on how many scholarships you can apply for, the money will add up from smaller awards and help you win bigger scholarships.

9.   Create a scholarship application checklist. This will ensure that you have all of the required pieces to submit the for the application.

10. Tailor your application to the scholarship/sponsor’s goals. Look for specific descriptive words used in the scholarship information and try to incorporate them into your essay.

11.  If you have difficulty writing essays, try recording yourself as you answer the question out loud, and transcribe the recording later. Most people can think and speak faster than they can write or type. Create an outline afterward to organize your thoughts.

12. Personalize your essay and be passionate. Write about something of interest to you. Make your application stand out from the crowd by giving examples and being specific.

13. Make sure you use a professional email address, such as firstname.lastname@gmail.com. Clean up the content of your Facebook account, removing inappropriate and immature material. This is very important when building a resume and applying for jobs.

14. Proofread a printed copy of your essay and the application for spelling and grammar errors. You can also ask your counselor or English teacher to help.

15. Make a copy of your application before mailing it. Sometimes things get lost in the mail. This way you have a back up is something would happen.


Beware of Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams

Familiarize yourself with the warning signs for scholarship and financial aid scams. They are easier than you think to spot! Here are some scholarship scam warning signs you should be aware of:

  • Fees: True scholarships are there to aid you, not the other way around so never pay to apply for scholarships or financial aid.
  • Personal Information Requests: A legitimate scholarship sponsor will never request personal information that you shouldn’t be giving out, like your social security number. If you’re ever uncomfortable with the type of information requested, it’s likely not a legitimate offer.
  • Guarantees You’ll Win: Legitimate scholarship sponsors will never guarantee that you’ll win. If an offer is guaranteed, it’s exactly as it seems: too good to be true.
  • Unsolicited Scholarship Offers: If someone contacts you, via phone, mail or email, offering you a scholarship, and you never requested information from that provider, be very careful. Scholarships are awarded to you after an application process – they are not just given out to random students – no matter how special they are.
  • Eligibility: Legitimate scholarships always have some sort of eligibility requirement, whether it’s age, grades or school year. Any scholarship that claims to be all-encompassing with absolutely no exceptions should raise a red flag. It’s helpful to view their previous winners to determine whether or not they are a legitimate resource. If the “testimonials” seem unnatural and contrived, they probably are.
  • You’re already a winner! You didn’t apply, yet you’ve won? Legitimate scholarship offers are those you need to put effort into winning through the application process – you aren’t just awarded money for no reason.
  • Missing Sponsor Information: When a scholarship sponsor is legitimate, you will always be able to access their contact information in some form. If it seems like a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” type of situation, look at it as a red flag for a scam.
  • Limited Time Offers: Scholarships have deadlines and they are usually clearly stated within the application guidelines. Legitimate providers don’t pressure students into applying for their scholarships; they have enough interest on their own. They also ensure that students have ample time to work on their scholarship applications and essays. If you ever feel pressured and are observing that it’s a “now or never” scenario, the scholarship is likely a scam.
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