I recently read through a scholarship book and it talked about so many different aspects of finding scholarships and financial aid. However the book did not mention hidden scholarships. These are scholarships that are offered by the college or university that you are attending. Some schools will refer to them as Merit awards/scholarships.
For this example I will use Uconn or the University of Connecticut.
They offer 5 different types of Merit Scholarships.
Day of Pride Scholarship
Presidential Scholars Award for Valedictorians and Salutatorians
Academic Excellence Scholarship
These are all awards that high school seniors are eligible to apply for. Most awards are for both in-state and out of state students. However these are awards that students typically may not know about until they are inquiring about financial aid. From my personal experience I was on a scholarship so I never inquired about additional financial aid, however when I became aware of my eligibility I was already on my final semester.
This information was obtained from Uconn.edu on January 30, 2013.
Scholarships for Internships
I do want to mention that if your seeking financial aid then an internship opportunity may be just what you need! This works for 2 reasons.
Internships pay in a variety of ways
Internships give you valuable experiences
Internships will usually pay for your tuition. You can easily find internship opportunities that will pay up to 18 credits (1 full semester or 1.5 semesters) this also can equal more than half of your Masters degree! Internships provide you with valuable experience that is similar to work experience. So when you are applying for a job this will be on your resume. This also helps for people that do not have a lot of volunteer experience. Many professions offer interns because they are cheap. If they pay you in tuition which is say $26,000, that is still cheaper than a typical employee salary and they can still make you work additional hours.
Working for a University
Why not work for the college or university. Most colleges and universities will pay you and offer you additional assistance with tuition. Some will even pay for at least 1 class per semester. Most schools list their employment opportunities on their school website. That is a good place to check.
If you are searching for a scholarship you are most likely already in the process of applying to or have been accepted by a college or a university. The same way their are college application deadlines, there are scholarship application deadlines. The deadlines typically occur anywhere from six months to one month prior to the start of the next semester or academic calendar year.
Scholarship Application Do’s
1) Do have multiple references
2)Do apply for multiple scholarships and grants
Do let others know that you are looking for scholarships
Take advantage of scholarship searches
Do take advantage of scholarship contest
Do build a strong resume
Scholarship applicants should have multiple reference that are willing to write letters of recommendations. If you let your references know ahead of time that you may need them to write a letter of recommendation at some point, they will be more likely to be prepared! You should apply for multiple scholarships and grants because you want to have a lot of options. One thing I have learned is that you can always decline opportunities such as money you do not want or may not need such as a student loan.
You should always let others know that you are applying for a scholarship. For example you tell a friend you are looking for a scholarship and they realize that you can apply for a Native American Scholarship that they recently came across, so they forward the information to you. Most people do not take advantage of scholarship searches. I totally understand why, with the internet and information being required people fear things like identity theft. But you should most definitely take advantage of a free scholarship search. I was talking with a fourth grade teacher recently who told me of a story of helping a student believe in themselves and the amazing achievements that came out of the experience. With that being said some people just don’t believe that scholarship searches are legit, and they are! Here is how we can find the proof. I encourage anyone that has won a scholarship from a scholarship search to post their story in the comment section. Also take advantage of scholarship contest, they are free. What is there to lose?
On a final note make sure you have a strong resume. Most people think resume=volunteer work. A resume is really a snapshot of everything that you have done and not just volunteer work. You may have participated in a leadership training, mentoring program, college or high school sport. When I think of my resume I have 2 pages worth of experiences and just one is volunteering. With that being said the message is do not be discouraged because you don’t have a lot of volunteer experience. You never know what can happen.
Obviously you are here because you want a scholarship! It is also obvious that you can click a mouse. However the biggest problem that you may be facing is where do you look for a scholarship. The first most important place that you need to look for a scholarships is with Fafsa.ed.gov. This is because the government works with colleges to distribute financial aid packages.
Financial aid packages include but are not limited to the following: grants for tuition, pell grants, scholarships and student loans. There is plenty of confusion when it comes to financial aid. Some people hear the terms financial aid or grants and totally stop thinking about scholarships. Financial aid is the umbrella term. Scholarships and grants are more specific. People think grants are different from scholarships because generally a scholarship is free money for college. Actually if you ask me the term is pretty dated! The reason I say that is because I earned a “full college football scholarship”. However my “scholarship” had in bold letters “Athletic Grant in Aid”. It is clear to me that I had full tuition, room and board but it just was not called a full scholarship. Am I complaining absolutely not. I am just updated the masses. Partly because I do not want to see students miss out on opportunities because of a misinterpretation of terminology.
Another misinterpretation is when things seem to good to be true. I read a flyer while pursuing my first Masters of Education: “18 Graduate Credits for intern opportunity” Sounded to good to be true so I passed this flyer for atleast 2 months. Then finally I asked a professor about it and she said it is true but she said you would just have to quit your full time job. I debated it for atleast 1 month then realized it would help me get my Masters degree faster and become a certified teacher sooner. Now as proud home owner and 2 Master Degrees later I am not struggling with student loans! In closing I want to leave you with the fact that as a student seeking a scholarship you won’t know what is legit or not until you inquire. One last thing, it is free to find a scholarship no fees involved! That is 100% true.
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