Getting scholarships to fund your education is a lot harder than everyone lets on! When your time comes to start looking, scholarships are what people will tell you to go out and get. What they forget to mention is that getting a scholarship is a lot like winning a pageant and exactly like winning a contest. You only get it if you’re the best candidate and the scholarship providers pick you out of thousands of other candidates. And then, even if you win, the scholarship won’t cover very much. Commonly these amounts range between $500-2,000. Sometimes you’ll see a scholarship for $10,000. In this academic climate $500-20,000 only covers your textbooks–maybe a graduate degree class if you’re lucky–but, every little helps.
I know that it seems obvious but the key to getting money for school is to not give up. There are always options for people who work hard and genuinely believe in their dreams.
Here are the 3 ways college gets paid for:
- Out-of-pocket for the rich.
- Full-rides for the few talented in specific trades or abilities
- A combination of out-of-pocket, scholarships, other aide, and debt for everyone else.
What you can do:
- Actively let others, especially people at your university, know that you need money for school.
Who knows? Family or a willing stranger might actually respond. I struggled with being open about my needs while getting my undergraduate degree because I didn’t feel comfortable asking for help. What I found was, people actually want to help out and when they can’t they’ll at least let others know that you’re looking for money to fund your education. They may also steer you in the right direction toward opportunities that exist, saving you time and energy. I actually got a scholarship this way! I was interviewed in a newspaper and someone from the university read the article. As a result, my university matched me with a scholarship they were looking to give away.
2. Crack open a book. Check scholarship books out at the library because these books are being updated all the time. Plus, you need to save money! These books give you clear lists of scholarships that are available to you without all of the spam and garbage associated with signing up with scholarships sites online.
Great scholarship books to reference:
- Financial Aid by Gail Ann Schlachter and R. David Weber. If you can find Schlachter and Weber’s financial aid books you’ve hit the jackpot. They offer volumes of books based on scholarship criteria (ethnicity, gender, military affiliation, etc.)
3. Online sites
The problem with scholarship search sites is once you sign up for them, it’s very likely that your inbox will be flooded with junk mail! At least this is what happened to me! Not only was my inbox flooded with spam, I received a few marketing phone calls from universities trying to give me information about their schools. The only sites that were great and that I’d actually use again: Sallie Mae and UNIGO.
Watch out for Scams!
Crooks don’t play by the same rules as the rest of the world. They don’t care about your money troubles or that you’re working two jobs so just avoid them altogether! It’s a scam if you have to pay to apply for the scholarship or you’re guaranteed to win. Always do your homework and research the company offering the scholarships!
More on scams:
Best of luck!