Free Money and the Scholarship Search

Is there really “free money” for college students? Absolutely there are literally thousands of opportunities for high school and college students to find educational funding. It only requires a dedicated scholarship search to be performed on a regular or annual basis.

A good scholarship search will take place on an ongoing basis throughout the year rather than one annual search. Many groups, organizations, businesses and schools happily award money to students each year. Most will require an application, an essay and some sort of demonstration as to academic, financial or general worthiness. This can require some significant documentation and most students are encouraged to create a “scrap book” of their achievements, activities and interests.

It is estimated that there are approximately 1.5 million potential scholarship awards available, with an estimated value of approximately eight billion dollars. These funds can come from community groups such as fire departments and garden clubs, they can come from national organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Lion’s Club, and they can come from schools, colleges or universities based on sports or academic performance or from a student’s own merit.

It takes a great deal of time and research to perform a scholarship search and the most organized students are the ones that see the best results. To be adequately prepared a student should create a spreadsheet or written worksheet naming all of the scholarships they have or will apply for, they should then note all critical deadlines or significant dates for each. They should keep track of all the contact information or any relevant notes as well.

Students can find a tremendous amount of assistance with a scholarship search from their school guidance counselor or guidance office. Here they can review all local scholarship opportunities, and often get the entire application packet, and find suggestions and support from the staff.

One tool many successful scholarship searchers employ is a book or packet itemizing their many interests, achievements or activities. This could have newspaper clippings about sporting events where a student displayed remarkable skill or set a school record. It could contain documents pertaining to community service, such as hospital volunteerism, and it could show a student’s particular dedication or interest in their particular field of study such as a history of working with children for a student in a teaching program.

All scholarship applications will require an essay of some sort that expresses the student’s need, the reasons they should receive the money and may ask for specific answers to questions relating to the agency giving the funds. A “stock” or “generic” essay should never be used by a student seeking funds. It is important to take the time to honestly assess each group giving a scholarship and to convey to them, through a well-written essay, why the applicant should receive the assistance. It is also a good idea to find a counselor, teacher or mentor who will review essays for grammar, weaknesses or flaws.

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