The costs of attending college are rising at alarming rates each year. The majority of students and their families will need to accept a financial aid package (including scholarships, grants, and loans) to cover those costs. Students—whether you are a college freshman or senior—you can help to minimize the amount of loans you will need to pay for college.
Research scholarships online.
First of all, I encourage everyone to apply for scholarships outside in addition to your financial aid package from your college. You don’t want to take out loans unnecessarily because those loans must be paid back after you graduate from college.
I recommend that you search for scholarships specific to your major in common databases such as Google, MSN, or Yahoo. Also, don’t forget about government agency websites. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in environmental science, feel free to visit the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) website, www.epa.gov. CollegeXpress even has its own scholarship search—have you tried it? The benefit of scholarship search sites is that the information to apply is all streamlined into one consistent format, so it's easier to search.
Prepare foundational paragraphs for scholarship essay questions.
When you are researching scholarships which require an essay, you will notice patterns of particular questions listed below:
Describe your leadership style.
What is your perspective on a well-known fact or quote?
Who or what has influenced your career choice?
Why do you want to attend college?
Why do you deserve this scholarship?
In order to save time and apply for as many scholarships as possible, write out basic paragraphs answering these questions. Thus, when it is time to send in your essay, you won’t have to start from nothing, but you will have a running start with your essays.
Ask your employer or your parent’s employer about scholarships.
Your parent’s employer may provide scholarships, so don’t pass this opportunity up. Also, you can inquire with the Human Resources department at your job about reimbursement or scholarships. You will never know if scholarships exist if you never inquire about them.
Ask the leaders in your community (religious or charitable organizations).
Many community organizations provide scholarships for the students who reside in the area. So, I encourage you to inquire with local churches, businesses, and charities about scholarships for residents in the community.
In conclusion, you want to make college as least expensive as possible for yourself, which requires some work on your part. Your hard work will be worth the effort.