Paying for college is a top concern for many college-bound individuals. When thinking of obtaining money for college, resources that many people shy away from are scholarships. The application and essay process can be a big turnoff for many, but scholarships have completely paid for many winners’ educations, with some receiving as much as $200,000 over the course of their studies, proving that the initial time investment totally pays for itself. So this is definitely a money source you don’t want to turn your back on. New and returning students alike have access to billions of dollars of scholarships. Most scholarships can be found in the usual places online, in books or at your college of choice, while others can be a bit harder to find but are worth the extra research. Here are a few ideas of places to search for scholarships:
Use the Web
The Internet offers a goldmine of free scholarship databases. Check out sites like www.fastweb.com and www.collegenet.com, which allow you to search for over $1.6 billion worth of scholarships. You’ll find no end to the possibilities. Many of the sites out there offer keyword searches if you are looking for a particular type of award and even a profile search that matches scholarships to a personal profile you create. The Web is the easiest way to find the most scholarships in the shortest amount of time.
Buy a Book
There are quite a few authors that have played the scholarship game, won big time awards and have decided to share their secrets with the masses. Gen and Kelly Tanabe were awarded over $100,000 in scholarships and have published The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2010. The book includes over 1.5 million awards and scholarships that can be used at any college and insider advice on how to win scholarships. Be sure to visit their website at www.supercollege.com to search for more scholarships. Another book that offers a ton of scholarship leads is The Scholarship Book, 13th Edition by Daniel J. Cassidy. The guide gives access to over 4,000 scholarship resources, 400,000 awards worth more than $2 billion, and awards up to $40,000 per year.
Talk to a Financial Aid Officer
These professionals are well-versed in paying for college. They can direct you to the most appropriate scholarships for your situation. Before you give them a call and set an appointment, take an inventory of your skills, talents, interests and hobbies as well as any family situations that might qualify you for an unusual award. A financial aid officer can be found at your local college or university.
Access Professional Associations
What is your future career? For example, are you going into the nursing field? Then you will want to research professional nursing associations to find out what scholarships they award. Most professional associations can guide you to industry specific scholarships if they don’t offer one themselves.
Think Big Business
Many big companies have created foundations that award scholarships. Check out websites for biggies like Pepsi, Quaker and Tropicana who offer scholarships. Many of the big corporations offer scholarships to support the communities that support their businesses. Some scholarships are specifically for certain majors like computer programming or sales and marketing, but many others are for general applicants.
(photo credit: Scr47chy)