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Home Scholarships College Scholarships How to Apply for a Scholarship

How to Apply for a Scholarship

With the rising cost of college, know that you may apply to as many scholarships as you want. There is no cap to how much scholarship money you can receive. Scholarships award free money that usually does not have to be paid back and can help lower the cost of attending a college, university, or trade school. Scholarships can be used to cover your tuition and other education-related expenses. Each scholarship program has its own submission requirements and due dates. Carefully read each section of the application to ensure you qualify for the scholarship.

Start Your Scholarship Search Early

Begin applying for scholarship programs as soon as you think attending a college, university, or other technical school might be in your future. There are scholarships that are available to students as young as kindergarten. It is never too early to start finding funds for a higher education. Of course, you want to read all the terms and conditions, for example, some scholarships may only be available for students 13 and older.

It is a smart practice to keep yourself organized with a calendar or spreadsheet file. This can help you track all the scholarships, due dates, and requirements needed for the application process.

A great place to start a scholarship search might be with a free scholarship search engine, like our By answering a few questions, you can be matched with scholarships that have more relevance to you. Reading through the requirements can give you a better idea if you are a good fit. This can help you spend your time on the scholarships you have the best chances to win.

As you look for scholarships, make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements. Filling out the application only to be disqualified due to ineligibility takes time away from other potential scholarship efforts.

Talk to your high school counselor who is often knowledgeable about scholarships, and they can be a resource to assist you in your scholarship search. They may know of smaller, lesser-known or private scholarships in your area. Local scholarships can be easier to win due to smaller application pools, than the larger national scholarships.

If you’re in college, or applying to a few colleges, check in  with the financial aid office of each university to help find scholarships that may be applicable to you. You may also be able to qualify for merit-based scholarships depending on your GPA and SAT/ACT scores, so check with your university.

More >>> How to Find Scholarships

Scholarship Application Tips

Think about your time spent applying for scholarships as a part time job. The amount of effort you invest in scholarships typically correlates to what you get out of it. Some scholarship amounts seem small; yet, taking an hour of your time to fill out the application could equate to more than the hourly wage of many jobs. Scholarship committees are searching for deserving students to invest their money in.

When it comes to filling out scholarship applications, there is general information that is usually required for most scholarships. Not every scholarship will require all the following documents, but you may want to keep them handy as you fill out applications:

High school transcripts (have multiple copies of both official and unofficial transcripts)

ACT/SAT scores

Proof of Identification

Personal resume

Scholarship essay

Letters of recommendation (keep 2-3 on hand), or at least the names of two or three individuals who agree to write you a letter of recommendation

Many organizations have also taken their scholarships digital. Submissions are no longer just essays, but may include tweets, art, photos, or videos. This can showcase some of the different skills you may have to application committees.

While it may seem worthwhile to dedicate your time and effort to the big-ticket scholarships, it is likely that many other students are thinking the same way. A couple smaller scholarships can add up and might have a lower number of applications, thereby increasing your chance of being the scholarship recipient.

Completing Scholarship Applications

Scholarship committees want to get to know you and why you are worthy of being awarded the money. Use the application as a time to show them what you’re made of!

Try to focus yourself on three things that are specific and individual to you. These could be topics that you love and are passionate about. Think of the interests, clubs, groups, sports, skills, or talents that you enjoy spending your time on. Use these as a platform to set yourself apart from other applicants.

Application committees often want to see excitement and energy in your essays and interview. You may want to share details or experiences about your interests to give the committee greater insight into you. Make sure to showcase your character, here are three questions to help you with that:

  • What do you do?
  • Why do you do it?
  • What about it do you love?

Well thought-out responses to these questions can show committees your depth and dedication to causes and interests that are important to you. You could demonstrate your resilience and how you deal with failure. You could give an example of a lesson you learned and how you have applied it in your life. The committee will want to know they will be investing their time and money on a worthy student.

Revise Your Application

Even if you have spent an entire weekend working on a scholarship application, set it aside for a couple days. Walking away will give you fresh eyes when you return that may help you find any spelling and grammar errors that could potentially diminish your chances of being selected. Try to find a quiet place to read your piece aloud. This will help you find mistakes that your eyes may skim over but your ears can quickly catch. Find a trusted parent, mentor, or teacher to read over your application. Their experience and knowledge can provide helpful feedback and editing.

Submission Deadlines

It is a good idea to stay mindful of the deadlines for the scholarships you are applying for. Set multiple reminders to ensure you have your scholarship submissions in on time. Applications that are not submitted on time may not be considered for the scholarship award.

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