by Clint Page
Brought to you by the American School Counselor Association
There are four major sources of scholarships:
1. The federal government
2. Your state government
3. Post-secondary institutions themselves (endowments, etc.)
4. Private sources (businesses, service clubs, fraternal and religious organizations)
Most scholarships fall under one of two categories:
1. Need-based scholarships are based on family income, savings, assets, etc. Approximately 90 percent of scholarships are need-based.
2. Non-need or merit-based scholarships are granted based on academic performance, musical talent, athletic ability, community service, etc. Regardless of family income, only about 10 percent of scholarships are non-need based.
You need scholarship money for college, but where do you even begin to look? Fortunately for you, scholarship searches have become much easier in the last few years due to the popularity of the Internet. You can begin your scholarship quest right on the web!
The following websites will give you great information and related links on loans, college searches and test preparation.
FAFSA: Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is usually where the financial aid process begins. Developed by the U.S. Department of Education, this site is a "must visit" for parents and students alike. In addition to the wealth of information here, this site also allows you to file the FAFSA form online. http://www.fafsa.ed.gov
FastWeb.com: There are dozens of sites with exhaustive scholarship searches, but this one's the largest, most accurate and most frequently updated. While this site requires that you give some facts and figures, the results are usually worth the time and effort. Additionally, you'll receive e-mails announcing new scholarships as they become available. http://www.fastweb.com
FinAid.org: In addition to good general information on numerous scholarships, this website features a link to scholarship scams that you should avoid, as well an "ask the aid advisor" link. You can also subscribe to a free, online financial aid newsletter, which is highly recommended. http://www.finaid.org
Apply for all scholarships for which you meet the eligibility requirements. While you may not get a particular scholarship that you do apply for, you'll never get a scholarship that you don't apply for!
Pay careful attention to deadlines. Applying late will usually eliminate you from consideration.
Be aggressive in your scholarship search. Spend time on the Internet and keep your eyes and ears open for scholarships everywhere.
Visit your high school guidance office regularly to check on new scholarship opportunities.
Every little bit helps, so apply for small grants, too. You can always put $100 toward the cost of books or other incidentals.
It's important to remember that what your family considers "need" and what the government considers "need" are usually not the same.