Your student probably knows that scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for college. After all, it’s free money that they don’t have to pay back. But they may not know some of the ins and outs of scholarships, such as when to start searching for them or that your student may need to meet certain criteria to keep them.
Below are six easy tips for your student to keep in mind as they seek out and apply for scholarships.
1. Begin the scholarship search the fall before starting college.
This will give your student time to find, apply for and receive scholarships, so they’ll know how much of their tuition is covered by the time they begin their first-year classes.
2. Check scholarship websites monthly.
Usually, new scholarships are continuously added to scholarship websites, so your student should keep checking back to ensure they don’t miss any opportunities.
3. Check university scholarship sites (from their list of top schools).
Many universities make scholarships available and your student should definitely see what’s offered. They might want to explore whether the scholarship also offers opportunities for mentorship, extracurricular activities or other personal benefits besides helping pay for tuition. And they should also verify whether a scholarship covers all four years of college or only one semester or year.
4. Prepare responses to common scholarship application questions.
Every scholarship is different, but there are some questions that are fairly common across multiple scholarship applications. It’s a good idea for your student to prepare written responses or at least consider how they would answer these questions. Some frequently seen questions pertain to:
- Leadership roles or community service your student has undertaken.
- Personal obstacles your student has overcome and what they learned from it.
- Community or societal problem your student wants to help solve.
- What your student would use the scholarship money for.
5. Keep track of scholarship deadlines.
Scholarship deadlines vary and keeping track of them all can be tricky. Your student might want to put the deadlines for each scholarship they’re applying for into their calendar, as well as (and this is important) set a reminder at least a month before the deadline to work on the application.
6. Become familiar with merit scholarship renewal criteria.
Your student should understand the renewal criteria of any merit scholarship they may receive. Most require that your student maintain a certain GPA and take a particular number of credit hours per semester. If your student doesn’t meet the renewal criteria, the value of the scholarship may be reduced or they could lose it altogether.
Your student should apply for any and all scholarships they qualify for, even if they seem small. They can add up quickly and put a big dent in that tuition bill.