Scholarships are free money that do not have to be repaid. They can be based on merit, financial need, or other criteria. You should start your scholarship search at least one year before the next academic year.
Don't Pay Money To Get Money!
Some deceitful companies will go about swindling dollars by promising students free scholarship money in exchange for an up-front fee. Others claim to have access to untapped sources of financial aid, charging students for information on various scholarship awards. And many parents will receive letters in the mail promoting "free financial aid seminars" or "open interviews" for financial assistance, not knowing that the real purpose of the event is to plug unnecessary products and/or services.
While some of these profit-making companies DO offer legitimate services, there are several alternative routes students can take to acquire a wealth of scholarship information - FOR FREE:
- Your High School Guidance Office
- Organizations - check local organizations first. You may be going up against a few other local students versus the entire student population of the country. Example: Lions Club, Jaycees, Kiwanis.
- Places of Employment - The personnel administrator of the company you/your parents are employed may know if the company offers any sort of financial aid, tuition reimbursement or scholarships.
- Volunteer Work - If you have done any volunteer work at your local hospital, food bank, etc., these organizations may provide scholarships in recognition of unpaid assistance.
- Unions - All major labor unions offer scholarships for members and their dependent children.
- Chamber of Commerce - Many offer (usually small, less than $500) grants to students in the community, especially those planning on careers in Business and Public Service.
- Web - Check out www.fastweb.com. In addition do a general search under keywords such as "financial aid", "student aid", "scholarships", etc.
- Newspaper - Read your local newspaper everyday. Especially during the summer, watch for announcements of local students receiving scholarships.