Places to Look for Scholarships
One type of financial aid that can be especially helpful in funding your education is in the form of scholarships—free money given toward your education based on your academic achievement, artistic abilities, athletic skills or other criteria. A scholarship can be a one-time gift, or can be renewable based on your continued performance; and unlike student loans, scholarships do not have to be paid back. When figuring out your financial aid, here are some places to look for scholarships.
NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP CORPORATION (nationalmerit.org)
Millions of high school students compete for the scholarships offered by this non-profit group, so they are difficult to obtain; however, some students with exceptional academic ability get their entire college education paid for by them. Initial qualification for this scholarship is based on the PSAT/NMSQT test, the preliminary test to the SAT. If you’re a freshman or sophomore in high school, it’s worth the effort just to take the test and see where it goes from there.
YOUR PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT
Many companies offer scholarship programs for their student employees as part of their benefit packages. Check with your employer to see if they have such a program, and how you might qualify for a scholarship. Many labor unions also have scholarship programs, so if you are a union worker, be sure to check there, as well.
THE SCHOOL ITSELF
One of the best places to look for scholarships is within the school you’re planning to attend. Many schools have in-house scholarship funding that comes from a variety of sources; these funds are given to students in the form of academic awards, athletic scholarships and even department assistance. Check with both your financial aid department and the department of your declared major to see what scholarships you might qualify to receive.
If you serve in the armed forces, chances are you already are aware that the military has many scholarship programs available. These include the well-known Air Force ROTC program, which can provide full-ride scholarships.
There are a great many non-profit foundations out there that desire to fund promising students; you just need to find them and apply for their scholarships. You can begin your search at the local library or on the Internet. Some helpful hints: start the process as early as possible, and only apply for scholarships you are reasonably qualified to receive.
Finally, if you find the search for scholarships overwhelming, it might help to involve an organization geared to helping you find them. Scholarships.com, for example, is a free service designed to help promising students connect with the funding that they need. Other places to check out include collegescholarships.org and finaid.org. Sites like these offer centralized access to scholarship information, and are great places to look for scholarships.