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May 15th 2010

Scholarships are presents which don’t need to be repaid. There are thousands of them and they are offered and donated by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations.

What kinds of scholarships are available?

Some scholarships for university are merit-based. You can gain them by meeting or exceeding certain standards set by the scholarship-giver. Merit scholarships might be awarded based on academic achievement or on a combination of academics and a special talent, trait, or interest. Some other scholarships are based on financial need.

Many scholarships are geared toward particular groups of people; for example, there are scholarships for women or graduate students. Additionally, there are some available because of where you or your parent work, or because you come from a certain background (for example, there are scholarships for military families).

A scholarship might cover the entire cost of your tuition, or it might be paid a few hundred dollars. Either way, it’s worth applying for, because it’ll help reduce the cost of your education and raise the job opportunities for you.
 

How do I find scholarships?

You can learn about scholarships in several ways, including contacting the financial aid office at the school where you plan to apply or searching information in a public library or online. But be careful. Make sure scholarship information and offers you receive are legitimate; and remember that you don’t have to pay any fees to find scholarships or other financial aid.

Try these free sources of information about scholarships:

  • the financial aid office at a university or career school
  • a high school or TRIO counselor
  • the U.S. Department of Labor’s FREE scholarship search tool
  • federal agencies
  • your state grant agency
  • your library’s reference section
  • foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups
  • organizations (including professional associations) related to the field you are interested in
  • ethnicity-based organizations
  • your employer or your parents’ employers

When do I apply for scholarships?

That depends on each scholarship’s deadline. Some deadlines are as early as a year before university starts, so if you’re a high school student now, you should be researching and applying for scholarships in the summer time between your junior and senior years. But if you’ve missed that chance, don’t give up! Look at scholarship information to see which ones you can still apply for right now.

How do I apply for scholarships?

Each scholarship has its own requirements. The scholarship’s websites should give you ideas of who qualifies for the scholarship and how to apply. Make sure you read the application carefully, fill it out completely, and meet the application deadline.  

How do I get my scholarship money?

That depends on each scholarship. The money might go directly to your university, where it will be applied to any tuition, fees, or other amounts you owe, and then any leftover funds given to you. Or it might be sent directly to you in a check. The scholarship provider should tell you what expectations when it informs you that you’ve been awarded the scholarship. If not, you should ask.
 

How does a scholarship affect my other student aid?

A scholarship will affect your other student aid because all your student aid added together can’t be more than your cost of attendance at your university or career school. So, you’ll need to notice your school know if you’ve been awarded a scholarship so that the financial aid office can subtract that amount from your cost of attendance (and from certain other aid, such as loans, that you might have been offered). Then, any amount left can be covered by other financial aid for which you’re eligible. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask your financial aid office.

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