There are literally billions of dollars given away for free each year in the form of scholarships. However, to get your hands on this scholarship money, you will need to know how to look for scholarships, where to find them, and which ones will offer the best return on your time. We’ll show you how to apply for a scholarship, and get one, too!
Applying for scholarships
Most people have it in their minds that scholarship opportunities do not exist for them. Others think that all scholarships are based on financial need, race, or gender, and they simply cannot get free funding for school. This simply couldn’t be the case.
In fact, since so many people have the preconceived notion that scholarships do not exist, or that so many other people are more qualified, many scholarships go without winners and many future college students bring home several awards that nearly pay for their schooling. The fact of the matter is this: if you spend the time to search for scholarships, you’ll earn far more money on a per hour basis than you would at a job. And that isn’t a joke. Money for college can be found almost anywhere, and not all scholarships are based on criteria you don’t meet.
FAFSA is easiest
The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student aid is one of the best ways to get an instant decision on several hundred federal, state, and local scholarships you may qualify for. But here’s the kicker; whereas the federal funds distributed through FAFSA are near limitless and available all the time, those at the state and local levels are not.
The best way to get free funding for school is to apply for federal student aid, which is a simple “yes” or “no” answer for most funding. Federal funding is need based, however, the federal government shares the data garnered through the FAFSA to state and local agencies, which will also distribute funds to school on a basis other than financial need.
Keep in mind that not all applications are equal in the eyes of state and local applicants. Many states have an “early application” date by which all FAFSA data must be turned in. Many of these dates are before the April 15th deadline for filing taxes, which means many people simply do not have the records in time to make the date. The best way to beat the crowd is to file your taxes as early as possible, then fill out the FAFSA immediately after filing your tax forms. You’ll qualify for far more state and local programs, many of which are given on a first come, first serve basis.
Websites like Fastweb.com make the search for national and local scholarships even easier. Again, since so many people believe that scholarships do not exist for them, so few take the time to register and search for available scholarships.
Many scholarships can be applied for automatically just by signing up to Fasteweb. Others require one more step to write a brief response, indicate a major of choice, or identify other information about yourself.
Above all else, never forget to search for local scholarships. First, stop by your school’s admissions office to see what scholarships are available locally, and for students of your school. Secondly, proceed to the office of the dean at your particular study, and ask about department specific scholarships. Department specific scholarships are often the least applied for, but the biggest payouts. Many offer completely free tuition for applicants!
As a final place to look, start collecting a list of major companies in a 50-mile radius of your chosen college. Next, navigate to their company website where there will be a list of grant and scholarship programs available to students. These scholarships are often unadvertised, offer very large payouts, and come in the form of a check sent straight to the student. Best of all, hardly any students ever apply for local scholarships as they require a few more steps (brainstorming companies, then going online) than other scholarship hunts.