Scholarships are gifts. They don't need to be repaid. There are thousands of them, offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations.
Some scholarships for college are merit-based. You earn them by meeting or exceeding certain standards set by the scholarship-giver. Merit scholarships might be awarded based on academic achievement or on a combination of academics and a special talent, trait, or interest. Other scholarships are based on financial need.
Many scholarships are geared toward particular groups of people; for instance, there are scholarships for women majoring in science, students with ADD/ADHD, or homeschooled students from Kentucky! And some are available because of where you or your parent work, or because you come from a certain background (for instance, there are scholarships for military families).
A scholarship might cover the entire cost of your tuition, or it might be a one-time award of a few hundred dollars. Either way, it’s worth applying for because it’ll help reduce the cost of your education.
Places to Search for Scholarships
- Local service/professional organizations often offer scholarships. Some to start with are the Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Club, Business and Professional Women’s Association…
- See if your church or denomination offers scholarships.
- Look into the organizations that your parents are members of or the companies that they work for. For example, Walmart has scholarship programs for associates and their children.
- Websites: www.College-Financial-Aid-Advice.com, http://www.imagine-america.org/, http://www.fastweb.com/. Check out the HS Essentials course in Moodle for more!
- Apps: Scholarship-finding apps are a mixed bag since they cost money and oftentimes the same information can be found through online research. However, sometimes they can be quite valuable. For example, a 2016 Bridgeway graduate used Scholly (http://myscholly.com/#scholly) to find major scholarships that she ended up receiving.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Be leery of websites or organizations that want you to pay to search for scholarships. Many are scams or aren't worth the money. Do your research!
- Don’t forget to complete the FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) if you are going to college! The FAFSA opens the doors to college scholarships, state grants, and federally-sponsored loans for both community colleges and 4-year schools. The FAFSA for the following school year opens in October, so high school seniors should complete it in late fall/early winter of their senior year. For FAFSA purposes, mark that you are a homeschooled student.
- Look for scholarships for homeschooled students - there are some scholarships specifically for you!
- Freshmen and Sophomores, keep your eyes and ears open over these next two years for what scholarships are available. Jot down the names of the scholarships and where you heard about it or how to apply in a file so you don’t forget.
- While national scholarship programs are the most well-known and easiest to find, they are also the hardest scholarships to win because so many students are competing. Look around in your local area for scholarship opportunities and talk with friends who are going to public school – their guidance counselors might be telling them about local scholarship opportunities.
- If you do receive a scholarship, don’t forget to write a thank you note! Scholarships are not deserved or even earned but are people trying to help you realize your academic dreams.