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Three tips to help you get a scholarship so you can owe less (and stress less) when you graduate.
When you’re thinking about how to pay for college, figuring out how to get a scholarship (or two) can make a real difference. Unlike loans, scholarships are gifted money—you don’t have to pay anything back.
A scholarship can help you pay for things like tuition and housing—so you can swap that part-time job for more time to study and enjoy campus life. And knowing that you’ll have less to pay back in student loans can be a big relief, too. All of these benefits can help you stress less during school and let you focus on what matters most: your education.
“(Getting scholarships) takes a lot of effort, but to my mind, it’s much better than the effort it takes to pay back thousands of dollars of loans and interest later.” —Bright Dickson, happiness expert and co-host of “Money and Mindset With Bright and Brian”
1. Do the research
First, you should reach out to the financial aid offices of the schools you’re interested in. Ask for information about any scholarships or grants specific to those schools—and keep track of the details, like dollar amounts and deadlines, in an organized document.
You can also search online to find scholarships that have specific criteria you meet. You can find scholarships for people from certain states or ethnic backgrounds, or even specific to a particular major or personal interest.
Scholarships with smaller awards <$1,000 are usually less competitive and easier to win. Cha-ching!
Scholarship Statistics, Education Data Initiative, February 24, 2022.
2. Reach out to your network
Ever heard the phrase, “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed”? That applies here. Try asking your teachers, friends, and family members to share any scholarships they know about. There may be scholarship money available from the companies your parents work for, community groups in your town, or organizations your high school counselors can refer you to. The bonus here is you can also build relationships and a network to help you with recommendation letters, future internships, or jobs.
The average scholarship is worth $7,400.
Source: Scholarship Statistics, Education Data Initiative, February 24, 2022.
Now that you’ve done your research and connected with your network, it’s time to take action. With a game plan, you can be sure you’re checking off all the boxes to set yourself up for success. Refer to your awesome list of potential scholarships and sort it by deadline. Keep all of your application materials together in a folder on your computer that’s easy to get to.
3. Make a game plan
Many scholarship applications ask for the same info—think transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and sometimes even tax forms—so having it all in one place can help you easily upload and submit multiple applications quicker. You can also repurpose essays if scholarships have similar prompts—but small edits to customize your essays and make them feel personal can go a long way.
Taking the time to research and apply for scholarships will help you take a great financial step for your future.
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