The Scholarship Fairy is Not Coming to Your House!
There’s no magic way to get free money for college other than to apply and win scholarships. If you want to trim hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars from your college costs, take a look at these winning scholarship tips.
How to Find Scholarships
One of the easiest ways to search for scholarships is to sign up for a Cappex.com account. Cappex matches you with relevant scholarships based on your background and tells you the level of difficulty you’ll have completing each application.
You also can turn to your high school guidance counselor to ask about scholarships. Your high school might have a list of scholarships you can apply for. You also can check your local library, newspaper and local community foundation for scholarships listings — your community has more scholarships available than you might think. Even if the awards are just a few hundred dollars, that money adds up. Every dollar you win is about a dollar less you’ll have to borrow.
Tip: Not all scholarships are based on your GPA or test scores. Some are based on essays, leadership or achievements. If you’re not a strong writer, ask your English teacher or another adult to take a look at your essay.
Tips for Your Scholarship Application
First and foremost: keep a spreadsheet of all the scholarship deadlines. You cannot apply for a scholarship after its due date. If you want someone to give you free money for college, you should carefully follow the directions.
You also need to include everything a scholarship asks for. If the application requires a transcript, make sure to get it from your high school on a timely basis. If you’re asked to submit your SAT or ACT scores, financial information or letters of recommendation, you also should make sure to have those things in order. Leaving this to the last minute means you will blow the deadline and miss out.
Also, remember to proofread your application. In fact, you should ask a teacher or parent to review it. Make sure your application is perfect. And remember: If you used the essay for another scholarship, be sure that it doesn’t have the other scholarship’s name on it. That’s one of the more embarrassing mistakes that students sometimes make.
Tip: Make copies of everything you send. If you're sending your scholarship application by mail, you may want to send it return receipt requested. If you're running late and are really close to the deadline, you will want to send your scholarship overnight mail.
Scholarships never cost money. If a scholarship asks you to send money, it is a scam. You also should be on alert if a scholarship asks for unusual information, such as your credit card number or a Social Security Number. Never send information that could compromise your finances or identity.
Tip: If you have been the victim of a scam, report it to the National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) at 1-800-654-7060 or visit www.fraud.org. You also can report scams directly to the FTC by filing a complaint form or calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).