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“I want to help my parents out with my tuition by landing as many scholarships as I can. Where should I start, what do they usually require, and what are some crazy scholarships you know of?” – Aimee N., Baltimore, MD
A: Watch Out For Scholarship Scams
When you search for scholarships, make sure that you are not getting scammed. Rule number one is that legitimate scholarships do not charge you money to apply. Even a nominal amount should raise a red flag. If you aren’t sure a scholarship is reputable, do a little research. If other students had bad experiences with a company, you may find that information online. The Federal Trade Commission also has very helpful information (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/scholarship/index.shtml).
- Janet Rosier – Independent College Admissions Consultant, Janet Rosier’s Education Resources
A: Practical Advice on “Winning” Scholarships for College
Articles about “winning” scholarships emphasize unusual awards and sources. In fact, most scholarship and grant money is awarded by colleges. External scholarships are those funds awarded from private sources in amounts, which will often augment, but not fully meet your need for assistance. You can find out about external awards using a variety of on-line search engines, but your high school guidance office or local library is often the best place to start. You will find information about local scholarship funds and the odds are much better you will receive a local scholarship than a national award.
- Myra Smith – Executive Director, Financial Aid Services, The College Board
Applying for local or “outside” scholarships (those independent of the college you may attend) can be very time-consuming and often yields little in the way of results. Be very particular about the scholarships you select to submit an application. Determine how many applicants generally apply and how many will be selected. Will the scholarship be for your first year only or is it renewable. Do your circumstances seem to line up with the requirements for the award? Consider all these factors as a substantial outside award may limit your institutional award, which often requires only the submission of the FAFSA.
- Jacqueline Murphy – Director of Admissions, Saint Michael’s College
Focus on scholarships that are a strong match with your experience and interests. If you read the criteria for a scholarship and say to yourself, “That’s me” then apply. To find scholarships visit your guidance counselor, local library and search engines such as scholarships.com. Are you a male over 6’2” or a female over 5’10””? Then apply for the Tall Clubs International Scholarship. Are you a strong writer with an interest in world affairs? The American Foreign Service Association Scholarship may be right for you. Many scholarships relate to your field of study or career aspirations such as the Tylenol Scholarship for medical careers.
- Joan Casey – President, Educational Advocates College Consulting Corp.
An under-represented student who wants to pay for college on your own? Crazy scholarships? Yes, they exist…there are some for kids who love to race cars, raise dogs, or whose parents work for certain companies. Start looking for next year but never pay to apply. Remember, colleges want students like you, so find the colleges that cover all of your needs. That’s crazy for your parents because they don’t need to pay anything. Also apply for scholarships that match your race, culture, legal status, and interests. They do exist. I know kids who have paid for college on their own.
- Rebecca Joseph – Executive Director and Founder, Get Me To College