When many students hear the word "scholarship," they mistakenly think it's something reserved only for a select few. Here's how you can help your students discover the billions of dollars in scholarships available for individuals just like them.
1. Complete the FAFSA
Like many other types of aid, a lot of scholarships require a completed FAFSA as part of their application requirements. Encourage your students to visit fafsa.gov to get the process started.
2. Secure Letters of Recommendation
A good word from the right source can go a long way in helping students stand out from the crowd when applying for scholarships. Suggest they approach teachers, coaches, employers, and advisors for a letter of recommendation at least a month before the application deadline—and be sure to include clear instructions on what's required.
3. Write a Unique Essay
A traditional part of the scholarship application, a written essay is a chance to shine a spotlight on an applicant's unique situation. Encourage students to take something interesting from their background and make it stand out. For example, have they had to overcome adversity in their life? Were they motivated by an awesome occurrence? Be sure to recommend having their drafts edited by a teacher or parent before submitting.
4. Have All Documents Handy
Make students aware of the documents they may need to complete their applications, such as high school transcripts, and suggest they have both hard and electronic copies on hand. If not readily available, these documents may take some time to get, so it's a good idea to get them in order early in the process.
5. Look Locally
Be sure to promote any local scholarship opportunities in your school's financial aid office. Check with area civic organizations, churches, and other philanthropic groups to see what's available.
6. Utilize Online Scholarship Searches
There are a variety of websites available featuring extensive lists of scholarships. Here are some examples your students can check out to aid in their search.
- The College Board(bigfuture.collegeboard.org/ scholarship-search)
- College Greenlight(collegegreenlight.com)
- Red Kite(myredkite.com)
- Scholarship America(scholarshipamerica.org)
- Scholarship Monkey(scholarshipmonkey.com)
7. Apply to Many, Focus on Few
As your students dig into their searches, they may notice dozens of "no essay" or sweepstakes-type scholarships. Let them know that while casting a wide net is good, narrowing their focus to the opportunities they match with best increases their chances of scholarship success.
Join the Scholarship Movement
If you're interested in other ways to make the scholarship process easier for you and your students, visit ScholarshipMovement.org to see how electronic scholarship disbursements can get vital scholarship funds applied to your students' accounts efficiently and accurately.