It’s that time again – admissions season. More specifically, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to finance and support your higher education.
There’s a lot to digest when it comes to college, and financial aid can take some time to wrap your head around. Keep in touch with your school’s college counselor because they’ll be an excellent asset for you while you navigate the college admission and scholarship application processes.
For now, we’re sharing some general guidelines, tips, and tricks related to your scholarship applications.
Let’s Define Some Terms
Pell Grant – A Pell Grant is a form of need-based federal financial aid that typically does not have to be repaid. It is awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to help eligible low-income students pay for college costs, including tuition, fees, room and board, and other educational expenses.
Student Loan – A student loan is designed to help students pay for post-secondary education and the associated fees, such as tuition, books and supplies, and living expenses. It is expected to be paid back with interest.
Scholarship – A scholarship is a grant or payment made to support a student’s education, awarded based on academic or other achievements.
Merit-Based Scholarships & Grants – Merit aid is a form of college financial aid that does not consider a student’s financial need but rather is awarded based on academic, athletic, artistic, or special-interest merit.
Need-Based Scholarships & Grants – Need-based aid is money awarded to students with financial needs.
Where to Find Scholarships
You can find scholarships through several ways, and the easiest place to start is online. You can also get information about scholarship opportunities from your high school counselor, the library, local community organizations, the college you plan to attend, and even the program you plan to pursue (if you happen to know that already). Sometimes, brands you love offer scholarships, so keep your eyes peeled and stay vigilant in your search.
When to Apply for Scholarships
Deadlines vary, which makes the “when” both easy and hard. You can get started as early as you’d like! If you wait too long, however, the deadlines can get away from you. Some scholarships start accepting applications as early as a year before the program or semester starts! Others open and close during the admission season (September through May).
The Federal Student Aid website is a great resource if you’re starting from square one.
That being said, you can also apply for FAFSA, which opens on October 1st annually and closes on June 30th this year (2022).
How to Apply for a Scholarship
You should have a few pieces of information on hand when you start the scholarship application process, including –
- Community service hours
- Details on extracurricular activities
- Standardized test scores
- Personal statement/essay templates
- Recommendation letters
Be warned: You’ll spend a lot of time filling out your name, date of birth, contact information, and writing personal essays. Even though this information is basic, it can be easy to overlook small errors and typos, so double and triple-check your submissions to ensure they don’t get delayed or dismissed outright.
Scholarship Application Dos and Don’ts
|Get started early||Delay or procrastinate; scholarship applications can be time-consuming|
|Follow individual instructions and requirements||Copy and paste information from another application without updating it|
|Take your time – slow and steady wins the race||Forget to proofread|
|Apply for scholarships of all sizes – those can add up quickly||Submit an incomplete application|
|Be wary of scholarship scams||Spend money on an application – that makes it a gamble and the house always wins|
|Stick to scholarships that are authentic to you. Millions of scholarships exist and you can’t feasibly apply to all of them, so stick to opportunities that speak to you, your experiences, and your abilities||Send banking/credit card info – any financial data you provide should come from IRS or FAFSA data. Legitimate providers do not ask for bank information.|
|Plan ahead – keep track of deadlines congruent with your daily activities and responsibilities||Let others do your work for you. These applications are meant to give an authentic portrayal of you and your experiences, and cheating doesn’t bode well|
The 1st Place Spiritwear Scholarship – Year Two!
At 1st Place Spiritwear, spirit is not only a product we sell; it’s a lifestyle we encourage. The scholarship application process showcases who cares. After all, you can’t feign genuine passion or school spirit. To encourage and reward those who have truly embraced their school experience, we’re offering our second annual “I Have Spirit, Yes I Do” scholarship opportunity for high school juniors and seniors. We’d encourage everyone to apply!
Not quite ready for college scholarships? Bookmark this page and come back when it’s time! For now, shop spiritwear you’ll want to wear from 1st Place, featuring your school name and colors in multiple unique designs.