Scholarship frenzy

by Becky Hayes

With college tuition rates continuously rising, the cost of higher education is becoming more and more difficult for families to afford. That’s why it’s your job to take advantage of all the opportunities out there for free money to use toward an education.

Scholarships are one of the most beneficial ways to receive money for college expenses. These awards for financial aid often have specific criteria or requirements from the donor or founder of the program. Scholarships do not need to be repaid by the student.

Types of scholarships:

Scholarships are not all the same. Many students assume that you have to be top of your class or a star athlete to receive aid for college, but this is absolutely untrue. There are scholarships for all sorts of achievements and characteristics. Some of the most common types of scholarships are explained below:

Merit-based: These awards are based on a student's academic, artistic, athletic or other abilities, usually based on an applicant's extracurricular activities or community service. Merit-based scholarships are awarded by either private organizations or directly by a student's intended college. Some of the most common awards are for academic achievement or high scores on standardized tests. Most awards are sent directly to the school the student will be attending instead of the student themselves.

Need-based: These awards are entirely based on the family’s ability to pay for college. Students or their families must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify for many need-based awards. FAFSA calculates a student’s financial need based on a formula that estimates what a family can afford to contribute and subtracts that from the total cost of attendance at a college or university.

Athletic: Some scholarships are based on athletic ability focused on a specific sport. If students are awarded athletic scholarships, they are generally drafted to play on the college team.

Student-specific: Some scholarships are geared toward specific qualities in students because the donors or organizations funding the scholarship relate to or wish to support the student-specific factors. Applicants are initially qualified based upon gender, race, religion, family and medical history, intended profession or other qualities. For example, Bill and Melinda Gates fund a minority scholarship for excellent African American, American Indian, Asian Pacific Islander American and Latino students who enroll in college.

Where to find scholarships:

Local scholarships from your community are very helpful because the applicant pool is much smaller than for national scholarships. The first step to finding scholarship money is to talk to your school’s guidance counselor. They are a valuable resource and can tell you all the scholarships you are eligible to apply for. Make sure to apply for as many as you can! The Vermont Student Assistance Corp has a long list of local scholarships and also offers grants. 

See: www.vsac.org

Scholarships to apply for TODAY:

These scholarships, although national, are very simple to apply for. Some of them are even available on a weekly or monthly basis! Take some time this weekend and start easing yourself into the world of scholarships by visiting a few of these websites.

“No essay” scholarship: The “No essay” scholarship is as easy as it sounds. Simply fill out a short form and hope you are a winner randomly drawn to receive a $2,000 scholarship. This scholarship is offered by College Prowler and is for current college students or student intending to enroll in college within a year.

Apply now at: https://collegeprowler.com/scholarship/apply.aspx

$1,000 Every Month Scholarship: The GotChosen $1,000 Every Month Scholarship is as simple as the “no essay” scholarship. The scholarship can be used for tuition, books, fees and even student loan repayment. This is a great scholarship that anyone can get. All you have to do is apply!

Apply now at: http://gotchosen.com/MonthlyScholarship.aspx

Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship: The guys over at ScholarshipExperts.com are definitely doing it right. This website is full of fantastic and unique scholarships that are very easy to apply to. This one involves writing a short response (under 250 words) using this prompt.

“Imagine that your high school/college has been overrun with Zombies. Your math professor, the cafeteria ladies and even your best friend have all joined the walking dead. Use your brain to flesh out a plan to avoid the Zombies, including where you would hide and the top 5 things you would bring with you to stay alive. ”

Apply now at: www.scholarshipexperts.com/our-scholarships/zombie-apocalypse-scholarship

Milton G Wright Scholarship: Like most of the scholarships on this list, the winner of this $500 monthly scholarship is determined by a random drawing, which requires applicants to fill out basic information about yourself. You can enter once per drawing and never again after winning. The only question is, why wouldn’t you apply?

Apply now at: www.aie.org/milt-wright-scholarship/

$1,000 Weekly Scholarship: Offered by Zinch.com, this scholarship involves filling out yet another basic form about yourself, but there is some writing involved. Don’t worry though, it’s only about as much as you would Tweet! The short answer question changes every week and you must respond in 250 characters or less. For an idea on the range of questions, this was one of the prompts given in the past: What is the most memorable trip you have ever taken? Share a specific memory. You can apply once a week, every week you’re in high school or college.

Apply now at: www.zinch.com/scholarships/weekly