Scholarships can make or break your education. If awarded a scholarship, it can open doors for you that you would not have had been able to open otherwise. School will be much less stressful and you will have more opportunities available to you if you apply for a scholarship.
However, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t count on the money from a single scholarship to carry you through to graduation day. In addition, make sure the organization administering your potential scholarship has a good track record.
You definitely don’t want to find yourself in the same position as the recipients of the “Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now” scholarship. The foundation, run by R&B artist Mary J. Blige, is reportedly missing thousands of dollars meant for the winners. Some recipients have had to take out loans on their own to pay for their education.
While this is a rare situation and not all scholarships will leave you in the dust, it is important to be aware of an organization’s past when you apply for funding from them. It’s also not a bad idea to apply for scholarships from multiple programs if you are relying heavily on these funds to get you through school.
Here are some things to ask as you search and apply for scholarships:
- Is the organization large and well-known or small and new? Neither is necessarily more reliable, but an established organization will have more experience dealing with scholarship funds (they may also have more applicants, and therefore be more competitive).
- Do you have access to any information on past recipients? Sometimes an organization will post praise on what their past winners have accomplished with the scholarship funds.
- Is there a fee to apply for the scholarship? Be very wary of any scholarship or sweepstakes that requires you to pay them first. You should not have to do this or pay any sort of redemption fee to apply.
- What are they asking me to do to earn this scholarship? Any legitimate scholarship requires work, filling out forms, and writing an essay with pizzazz. Any scholarship out to scam you will make it look painless and instantaneous.
The bottom line is do your research on any scholarship you consider. If your instincts tell you there’s something off or it’s too good to be true, you’re probably right. Don’t flush your hard work away!
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