College Admissions Guidance

Blog posts about college admissions topics such as essays, extracurriculars,  planning, mental health, etc.

External scholarships: strategies to get funded

application strategy financial planning Sep 23, 2021
Is it Worth it to Apply for Scholarships?
Absolutely, but only if a student is willing to put in the work it takes to apply correctly using winning strategies and doing a bit of research before submitting any application. Scholarships are FREE money that does not have to be paid back, so learning how to strategically apply is crucial to a student’s scholarship success rate. Students who quickly write an essay without much thought will have basically no chance of winning unless there is only one applicant, which is very rare.
 Outside scholarships — those given by an organization that isn’t your college or the federal government — will most likely be a small part of your college money but can help meet costs. 
Where can you look for these types of awards?
Many companies, foundations, community organizations, and clubs sponsor grants or scholarships. Grants and scholarships from these private organizations are called outside, or private, scholarships. Here are some examples of possible sources of outside scholarships:
  • Your parents’ employers or labor unions
  • Your family’s religious center
  • Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 4-H, and the Boy Scouts of America
Local Scholarships
Ask your school counselor or principal about awards for students graduating from your high school and for residents of your town, county and state. Look online and in your public library for information on local scholarships as well.
You may find scholarships sponsored by
  • Your church, temple, mosque, synagogue, or other religious community
  • Local branches of organizations such as the Rotary Club or the Kiwanis
  • Your parents’ employers
  • Your employer
State Scholarships
Almost every state has a scholarship program for residents, and the awards are usually limited to students who will attend college in that same state. For example, the State of Florida offers Bright Futures Scholarships to qualified Floridians who will attend college in-state.

National Scholarships
Examples of national scholarships include those sponsored by
  • National Merit Scholarship Corporation
  • Gates Millennium Scholars
  • Intel Science Talent Search
  • Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
The College Board also cosponsors scholarship competitions with the Siemens Foundation. National scholarships are open to people from across the country, so expect more competition for them.

How to apply for the scholarships?
I personally like the BigFutures website as they aren't selling you anything and you see learn the potential criteria quickly to later do an online search with. 

9 best scholarship search engines Top 8 Easy Scholarships 
  • AFSA High School Scholarship.
  • Because College Is Expensive Scholarship.
  • Dr. Pepper Tuition Give-Away.
  • Easy Money Scholarship.
  • Valentine's Day Scholarship.
  • “No Essay” College Scholarship.
  • ScholarshipPoints $10,000 Scholarship.
  • You Deserve It Scholarship.
10 Scholarships You Should surely Apply For in 2021 
  • National Eagle Scout Association STEM Scholarship.
  • American University National Achievement and National Merit Scholarship.
  • AXA Achievement Scholarship.
  • UNCF STEM Scholarship.
  • CIRI Special Excellence Award.
  • Coca-Cola Scholarship Program.
10 Great Ways to Win a College Scholarship 
  • Give the scholarship sponsor what it wants. ...
  • Get involved with your community. ...
  • Use a scholarship search engine. ...
  • Don't ignore the optional questions. ...
  • Learn more about scholarship odds. ...
  • Apply to every eligible scholarship. ...
  • Look for essay contests. ...
  • Be passionate.
When should you start applying for scholarships?
Federal Student Aid recommends that students start researching for scholarships the summer after their junior year of high school. If you have time and energy, you should even start before that. Every scholarship has different rules and different deadlines. Some even require submissions a year prior to starting college. 

How can I get a scholarship with a low GPA?
You just have to know where to look. 
  • Play the scholarship “lotto” ...
  • Go for “no” or “low” GPA scholarships. ...
  • Tap your parents' network. ...
  • Pre-package your application materials. ...
  • Use social media. ...
  • Embrace failure.