All eligible students should have the the opportunity to attend college. Fortunately, there are many systems in place to help finance a college education. Financial assistance can be provided through scholarships and grants, and loans. Federal and state governments as well as individual colleges and universities provide the majority of scholarships, grants and loans. Other sources provide a smaller amount of scholarship money.
Scholarships and grants are the most desirable source of funding because they are almost always tax-free and do not need to be repaid. Please note that the terms “grants” and “scholarships” are often used interchangeably. So, invest your time in researching scholarship opportunities.
Scholarship and grant money can be awarded according to both financial need and merit (academic, athletic or artistic) and may be subject to meeting renewal criteria. For example, some scholarships may require you to reapply annually, while others may be contingent on maintaining a minimum GPA. There are also a vast number of scholarships awarded by both private and public sources, although they account for a much smaller percentage of the total pool available. Depending on your personal profile, you may be eligible for scholarships offered by a variety of organizations representing many special interests. Some scholarships may be career specific – available to students studying to become teachers, while others may be student specific – available to students from a military family or specific ethnic group, and even to students with a unique hobby.
Most scholarship money is awarded by colleges and universities. Many private colleges and some state schools require you to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE to be considered for scholarship programs as well as non-federal financial aid. Some schools have their own supplemental application forms that must be completed to be considered for scholarship money. Always keep track of deadlines as they vary from school to school.
A helpful resource to match you with scholarships is fastweb.com. There are also many other resources worth looking into. Talk to your guidance counselor for additional information. Visit your guidance office to pick up scholarship applications and look through the lists of special scholarships available to students in your school district.
Now is the time to search for scholarships and apply as soon as possible so you don’t miss deadlines.