In celebration of National Scholarship Month, we’re highlighting our students’ achievements in scholarship and creating a conversation around college affordability, scholarship options, and student and family resources. Here are our best tips for finding scholarships and creating successful submissions.
Apply for Local and National Scholarships
Your community or school may offer several local scholarships through clubs, organizations, businesses, foundations, and generous local donors. When these scholarships are offered to a smaller group of students, the opportunity to win one or more of these scholarships is greater for you! How can you find out about all the local and national scholarships available?
- Check with your academic counselor or teachers
- Use the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool
- Search local media websites
- Search through an official government website for Federal Student Aid
- Check community portals like your city’s or county’s website
- Search geographical Internet searches, using terms like “scholarships in Texas”
- Ask people who have graduated before you from your school or area
*Fun Fact: IDEA’s Financial Literacy & Alumni Funding team ensures at least 90% of seniors apply to 3 or more external scholarships. Last year, 98% of the Class of 2020 met this goal!
Follow Essay Best Practices
Don’t: Repeat the Essay Prompt
Make your essay stand out and be original. The readers already know what the essay prompt is, so there is no need to repeat it in your essay. Use the beginning of your essay to showcase your personality and set yourself apart from other applicants.
Do: Satisfy All the Requirements
Read the essay directions carefully and be mindful of what the prompt is asking for throughout the writing process. If the prompt asks for certain things or asks you to answer certain questions and you do not include those, you could be disqualified from receiving the scholarship.
Do: Follow the Word Limit
If the prompt asks for a certain number of words, do your very best not go over that! Going over the essay word limit may disqualify you. You can use the word count tool in Microsoft Word, Google Docs or other writing tool to make sure you stay within the limit.
Don’t: Forget Proofread Your Work for Errors
Spelling and grammar mistakes can make you look like you lack attention to detail or may not care as deeply about the scholarship as another applicant. Make sure to proofread your essay at least twice yourself. You can also ask your academic counselor or parents to read it over before submitting.
Submit Your Application Early
While most scholarships do have hard deadlines you can follow, it is always best to submit your application early. Getting ahead of other applicants allows you to be better prepared, makes you look proactive and could give you the option to get your essay reviewed first. Not waiting until the last minute also takes stress off you and allows you to put as much time and thought into your applications as you need.
Apply for as Many Scholarships as You Can
The more scholarships you apply for, the more opportunities you have to put more college funding in your pocket. There is no limit to the number of scholarships a student can apply for – so there are endless possibilities! Do keep in mind that you may not meet the criteria to apply for every scholarship. Doing your research and getting creative in the process can uncover a long list of eligible options.
Don’t Give Up
We believe in you! While the process seems hard and long, the opportunity to pay for some or all of your college expenses and feeling of accomplishment are worth it all. You will not get every scholarship you apply for, and that’s OK. You can do the impossible, and your school, teachers and leaders are here to support you throughout the entire process, every step of the way. You can do it!