According to collegeboard.org, the average cost of tuition and fees to attend a private four year college is $33,479. For anyone who isn’t surviving off a trust fund or a miraculously high-paying job, this type of money is not easy to come by. Scholarships are a good way to take this number down, but how do you even know where to start? Everyone’s situation is unique, so there is no “right way” of applying for scholarships, but here are some helpful tips that will help lighten the load of your impending student loans.
“There’s different types of scholarships. You’re going to be the most successful applying for scholarships at the university or college you’ve applied to,” said Yana Bourdelais, counselor.
There is also an important difference between scholarships given by private and public schools. “If someone is looking for a big scholarship, private schools give way more scholarships than public schools. So a lot of times, you can go to a private school for the same cost or less than in-state schools. Check out some private schools, and if your GPA and test scores are above their average, you are in line for a bigger scholarship,” said Yana Bourdelais, counselor.
One key factor of applying for scholarships is knowing your strengths. According to collegeincolorado.org, “Scholarships recipients are selected for a wide variety of reasons. Common reasons include superior academic or athletic performance or capability.”
Many colleges give scholarships based on things like ACT/SAT scores. There are also scholarships awarded based on clubs, programs, and activities that you participate in. In addition, colleges ask that students applying for scholarships provide letters of recommendation, essays, and transcripts, so don’t forget to supply all of the things they request.
If you’re having a hard time finding a scholarship, you can find scholarships on the post-grad website. “We have a list of scholarships that are local, and there is a link to every application. It’s all digital, almost every scholarship application is online and it’s super simple to do,” said Yana Bourdelais, counselor.
There are also small scholarships that are often overlooked and regarded as insignificant. However, these scholarships, which usually award $1,000 to recipients, can really build up to make a difference. The requirements are as simple as making a card for someone in the community (Everyday Superheroes, by dosomething.org), or going onto the scholarship sponsor’s website, playing a game, and sharing it with friends (Anti-Texting and Driving, by dosomething.org). Once you’ve found a scholarship that you’re interested in applying for, visit the sponsor’s website and follow the instructions provided.
Some important resources you can utilize are scholarship search programs. These can be found on websites such as bigfuture.collegeboard.org, salliemae.com, and collegeincolorado.org, which have you create a profile of your interests, academics, and much more, to allow you to find scholarships quickly and easily.
Underclassmen can also do a few important things to prepare themselves for college and financial aid. “For underclassmen, the best thing you can do right now is keep a strong GPA, do things outside of school that you’re passionate about, start a club, work, do volunteer work, whatever it is to make you a better you,” said Yana Bourdelais, counselor
Generally, it is a good idea to pay very close attention to deadlines and eligibility requirements. If you’re late for applying, or don’t fit the criteria, you will miss your chance at that specific scholarship. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to talk to your guidance counselor or request information from your college.
Kaylee Kirkwood, Print Editor