The following is a guest post by Monica Matthews (@AidScholarship).
A commonly overlooked place to find college scholarships is the college in which the student currently attends or is planning on attending after high school. Use these strategies to exhaust all scholarship avenues and find as much money as possible to help pay for college.
The College Website – This is the most common method of finding scholarships especially awarded to students of a certain college. Prospective or newly admitted students should look for “Future Students” or a similar heading and current students should look for scholarships for undergraduate or graduate students. It is important to note which scholarships need separate applications and those that students are automatically considered for upon admittance to the school.
Departmental Bulletin Boards – Go to the building housing the department of the student’s major and read the bulletin boards
outside of classrooms and professors’ offices. Departmental scholarship information is often shared via posters and flyers in these locations. Save time by taking a picture of each poster, making sure information such as scholarship due date, qualifications, required materials, and application rules are clearly identified.
Professors – Personal interaction with college professors can do more than help with good grades. Getting to know professors and taking advantage of their office hours is a way for them to get to know students on a deeper level. Ask professors if they know of any scholarships that students may apply for, letting them know how important the money is to the student’s education and ability to pay for school.
Current and Former Students – Contact students who are currently attending the college and ask them what scholarships they received directly from the school. Also, reach out to students who have already graduated and ask them about their scholarships and see if they have any advice to share about helping pay for college costs.
Financial Aid Office – Admitted and current students should call the financial aid office directly, making sure to share their name and college ID number, and ask about all scholarship opportunities available to them. Prospective students can also do this, letting the college know how interested the student is in the school and their wish to find scholarship money to help pay for school.
Admissions Office – Prospective and admitted students that have not yet started school should not overlook how helpful admissions officers can be in the college scholarship search. Students can call the admissions office, identify themselves, and share their desire to help pay for college with scholarship money.
The FAFSA – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the most important step in receiving scholarship and grant money for college. Many colleges award scholarships to students who have filed their FAFSA early, so don’t wait until right before the deadline to file. There is only so much free money to award and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
University Scholarship Competitions – Many colleges offer scholarship competitions for accepted students based on their high school grades, ACT/SAT scores, and achievements. Even if the student has not yet made a decision about attending that college, competing for a scholarship is a great way to win money that will increase the financial aid offered to that student. These competitions shouldn’t be overlooked, as many offer scholarship money to the majority of the participants, with the awards ranging from a few thousand dollars to a full scholarship.
There are thousands of college scholarships available to students and learning how to find and apply for them is a big step in the process. Tapping into a student’s own college is a great way to find scholarship opportunities with less competition than well-known national scholarships. If you have you won a scholarship from your college or have a tip for finding more scholarships from a student’s own college? Please share in the comments section below and let’s do whatever we can to help students find money to pay for the high cost of college.
Monica Matthews is the author of “How to Win College Scholarships“. She helped her own son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares this passion with other parents and their students. Her scholarship tips have been featured on several websites and she has been dubbed the “Go To” expert on college scholarships. You can find her scholarship guide and tips at how2winscholarships.com