Scholarships are financial awards to help students pay for college. Some scholarships come in the form of a one-time gift, while others provide money over the course of your undergraduate studies. Scholarship awards do not have to be repaid. The money is typically used to help pay for tuition and expenses such as room and board.
Scholarships come from many sources including colleges and universities, organizations, charities, businesses, schools, alumni clubs, religious groups, and individuals.
Some scholarships are open to all applicants. However, for most scholarships you will be considered only if you meet certain eligibility criteria such as: need, being a member of an organization or religious group, pursuing a certain course of study, place of residence, athletic or extra-curricular achievements, involvement in community service or your parents or grandparents being employed by the corporation offering the scholarship.
Although searching and applying for scholarships is time consuming, some students and parents pursue it with gusto and excellent results. Finding scholarship opportunities requires research and you almost always have to complete an application to be considered.
When you speak with your guidance counselor about scholarships, ask about the experiences and awards of recent graduates from your high school. You may learn about area organizations such as the Kiwanis or the Rotary Club that may offer scholarships to local applicants. You may also be a good fit for a scholarship based on your community service.
While you don’t have to have perfect grades to receive a scholarship, your counselor may tell you that in past years many of the local scholarships have been awarded to top students in the graduating class. That’s not the case with all scholarships, so it is important to find opportunities that are a good fit for you.
Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.