If you need help paying for college, applying for Federal assistance (through FAFSA) is one way to secure financial aid. Another option is to apply for scholarships that are a good match for the type of student you are and where you plan on going to college. Scholarships are special awards that can help pay for part of your college costs. While some scholarships are based on your GPA or a near perfect SAT score, there are many other scholarships that put less emphasis on grades and more on who you are, your interests, and your involvement in the community.
There are a number of variables that go into choosing a winner for a scholarship. Here are a few of the ways that my teens were successful in winning tens of thousands of dollars in college scholarship money by tilting the odds in their favor.
Be well rounded. Students who are involved in both their school and community are more likely to win a scholarship than a student whose focus is strictly academic. Improving your odds of winning a scholarships is easily done by expanding your interests beyond school work to include activities such as community volunteerism, leadership projects, and club involvement.
Keep your grades above a 3.0. Grades do matter in that you probably won’t win a scholarship with a “C” or “D” grade point average. You should strive for at least a “B” average to increase the odds of winning a scholarship. If your GPA is closer to a 2.6-2.9, all is not lost. One of my sons still managed to win nearly $15,000 worth of scholarships even though he graduated from high school with a 2.8 GPA.
Go after unusual scholarships. There’s thousands of scholarships out there, including some very unusual and lesser known ones that are definitely worth investigating. The applicants for these scholarships are quite limited because they have strict perimeters. Some of the stranger scholarships we ran across are for left handers only, or tall people, short people, people with specific last names, people who want to study Klingon or regularly play in “Magic the Gathering” tournaments. These unusual scholarships (and more) can be found by searching through scholarship resource guides at the public library.
Follow instructions and watch your spelling. One last point that’s worth emphasizing is that completed applications must be written (or typed) neatly and free of errors. A poorly written application will not be considered.
You don’t have to be an A student to be eligible for a scholarship to college. Your school counselor and these four tips will help increase the odds of winning a scholarship that will pay for some (or even all) of your college costs.
More by this contributor:
How keeping your college student on the family plan saves money.
Navigating the scary world of college finances.
Easy ways to cut college costs..