What Every Student Should Know About Applying for College Scholarships

With the growing price tag for a college education, applying for college scholarships is a task well worth your time. Both national and local organizations, as well as colleges and universities, offer a variety of scholarships to future and current college students. It’s your job to seek out these opportunities and to put forth the required effort to apply.

There are many things students should know about applying for college scholarships, such as how to find available opportunities, reasons to take the scholarship hunt seriously, and how to avoid scams. Scholarships can help ease the financial burden of college; for this reason, it’s key to note the following tips when applying for college scholarships:

Know what college scholarships to apply for—and how to find them

You can begin searching for college scholarships as early as your freshman year of high school. This will allow you to gain a sense of what opportunities are available. To find scholarships, review national scholarship lists, as well as lists that are related to your specific interests or talents. Search free resources online, such as this list from the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, ask your school’s guidance office about any known scholarships.

Once you have a list of potential scholarship opportunities, narrow it down to the ones you qualify for and that seem worthy of your time.

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Take your college scholarship search seriously

It’s important to take scholarship applications and their deadlines seriously. Therefore, it can be helpful to think of your college scholarship search and application process as a job. Set certain hours to complete applications, and hold yourself accountable. Many scholarships require a written essay, so give yourself enough time to submit a properly edited version of your entry. By taking your college scholarship search and application process seriously, you are setting yourself up for success.

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Always follow the rules when applying for college scholarships

Since scholarships often receive submissions from many applicants, any mistakes on your part could eliminate your application. Do the following in order to avoid mistakes that could cost you your entry:

  • Read all instructions completely, and include all requested documents.

  • If you’re repurposing portions of materials you first created for another scholarship application, be careful not to leave any incorrect names or other references in the updated version.

  • Submit all required materials by the deadline. 

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Be on high alert for college scholarship scams

Generally, you won’t have to pay to apply for a scholarship. If something says otherwise, this may be a red flag. Also be wary of any language that “guarantees” you a scholarship. For more guidance on how to tell when a scholarship is questionable, reference this list from the U.S. Department of Education.


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