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Your Scholarship Application Checklist Reply

By: Francine Fluetsch

When it comes to finances, applying to college can be stressful for college students. Loans can deter students from shooting for schools that are a bit out of their price range, as they hope to avoid future student debt.

However, there is a free way to finance your college years: apply for scholarships. There are hundreds of them out there, and you are bound to find a few that you could qualify for — it will just take some digging.

Filling out scholarship applications on top of college applications sounds like a drag, and is definitely a lot of work, but if you can push through, it will be worth it when you land that scholarship that will send you to your dream school. Keep in mind that these applications and the stress that comes with them will only last a short few months, but your college education will give you the future you deserve for years and years to come.

Since you are going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to researching scholarships that fit you, this article will serve to ease the rest of the scholarship application process by giving you a general checklist to follow as you are about to apply to scholarships and also to reference when in the middle of the process.

  1. Letter of recommendation

Not every scholarship application is going to require a letter of recommendation, but it is always better to be over prepared than to not bother getting a letter of recommendation and then realizing you need one when it’s too late to request one.

Try to obtain letters from two trusted people, just to be safe. Ask a teacher who knows you and your achievements well, a supervisor at a job or volunteer position, a coach, or someone in the professional world whom you know quite well (but don’t use family members with your same last name). Supply the person or two that you ask with a “brag sheet” where you list all of your accomplishments and why you are a fit for the said scholarship you are applying to.

This step is the first one for a reason: do it in advance! You can’t go up to your teacher and say, “Would you mind writing me a letter of rec? I need it for an application that is due tomorrow.” Chances are, they will not fulfill your last minute request, and you will be the one who suffers for it.

Give your person at least a month to write your letter, so they have time to think about what to say, and you have time to make sure that they finish before you start stressing about the deadline.

  1. Transcripts

Scholarships are usually awarded to those who excel in school, meaning you’ll have to supply your transcript to prove you are worthy of the reward. However, you can’t just log on to your high school’s website and print out the transcript listed there — you need an official copy. To get your official transcript, you have to go through the Registrar’s office or talk to your counselor.

With this, just like the first step, make sure to give yourself plenty of time, since these orders don’t get filled nearly as quickly as they should. I remember when I was applying to colleges and my request for my transcripts somehow got lost, and luckily I checked back with enough time or I might have lost my spot at UC Santa Cruz. Don’t let a timing issue be the reason you don’t get a scholarship; make sure to plan ahead and order more transcripts than you need.

  1. Cover letter

Scholarship committees want to know about you and why you are a good fit for them, so your cover letter is your chance to make yourself stand out and to highlight all of your attributes for why you deserve their money. Make sure you are not simply creating one cover letter and using it to apply for different scholarships. A lot of the time, they have specific things they want to see, so you need to go through and personalize each cover letter to the scholarship you are applying for.

Double check you are sending each letter to the right place to avoid an embarrassing mix-up! Also, make sure to have another pair of eyes look at your cover letter before you send it, so you can avoid any spelling or grammatical mistakes that you didn’t catch during your proofreading round.

  1. Essay

Scholarship applications include many steps but organizations aren’t just going to give their money out to any random person. Half of the process is seeing if you were diligent and determined enough to give it your all through the application steps, so keep your eye on the prize and bust that essay out!

Like the cover letter, you want to make sure you personalize your essay towards the scholarship you are applying for. The scholarship essay evaluators have seen it all and will know if you are giving them a generic essay that you sent to other scholarships as well.

Get your essay done early so you can show it to one of your teachers and ask for some notes on it. This seems like a daunting task, but your teachers want you to do well and have been at this for a while, so they might know what necessary tweaks you should make to help you get that scholarship.

  1. Photo

Some applications will ask you to include a small photo of yourself, and while it might seem silly to mention it, this does not mean that you can send a selfie to them. Make sure to send a professional picture (like your senior yearbook photo) that shows your college-ready side. You should try to make an impression and stand out, not have them laugh at your lack of seriousness when they receive an Instagram photo of you.

This checklist should get you through the bulk of any scholarship application, but remember to read all instructions carefully and include everything and anything that they require. Good luck scoring that money!


Visit uloop.com for more college news and to search for off-campus housing, scholarships, tutors near campus, jobs for college students, and more.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

3 Creative Way to Earn a Side Income to Pay College Tuition Reply

According to data fromBeautiful waitress with a tray The Institute of College Access and Success, a whopping 70 percent of students graduate with student loans. In fact, research shows that the average 2016 college graduate has about $37,172 in student debts.

What’s more shocking, however, is the fact that tuition and college fees keep rising sharply every year. In fact, an analysis of student fees from 1995 to 2015 found that the average tuition and fees at private National Universities has increased by 179 percent, the average tuition and fees at out-of-state public universities has risen by 226 percent and the average tuition and fees at in-state public National Universities has increased by a massive 296 percent — all in 20 years. If available research is anything to go by, it will take most students at least 21 years pay off their student loan debts.

How do you lessen your student loan debt burden and earn an income on the side? The following six ways will allow you to earn income on the side to pay your college tuition:

  1. Online Jury Duty: The law field is getting increasingly interesting, with a lot of different cases and rulings coming out with unexpected angles. In an attempt to be more prepared, trial attorneys have realized that they need to go beyond theory and get some practice before they get in front of a real judge — and they are leveraging the Internet for this: by working with online juries.

By working as an online jury, you will have the opportunity to review real cases before they get to the court; the aim of the attorneys is to see if their case can stand, and you can often earn up to $60 per case. This quickly adds up towards your tuition. You can find countless companies that pay online juries by doing an online search.

  1. Start an Online Business: You can also earn side income to pay for your tuition by starting an online business. The advantage to starting an online business is that it can be done at the comfort of your home, on your computer, and it won’t interfere with your studies. Here are some tips to help you if you decide to start an online business:
  • Partner to promote other people’s products: Save yourself the stress of having to create a product. Simply find a product that is selling well, and promote it as an affiliate. You get a commission for every sale, and this quickly adds up.
  • Start your own blog: Blogging can be one of the most effective things you will do as a college student. Not only does it help your ability to write and express yourself, it can also be a good source of income. A blog will also be useful for you after college: there are several examples of people who got their dream jobs due to their blogs.
  • Create and sell your product: This has the most potential, and if done right you can earn you enough to pay off your tuition within a year or two. However, it takes a lot of work — especially initially. It also involves several complexities, such as doing market research, creating an email list, looking for affiliate partners, etc.
  1. Become a Freelancer or Consultant: Research estimates that 40 percent of America’s workforce will be freelancers by 2020.

The surge in the number of freelancers, consultants and contract workers is mainly due to the Internet — more and more people can work remotely and still be as efficient. For you, as a college student, taking advantage of this could be the key to paying off your tuition. Some tips:

  • Establish the skills you can offer to potential clients: this could be design, writing, programming or artistic skills. You can work as a freelancer or consultant irrespective of the skills you have.
  • Take advantage of top freelance sites like Upwork to find clients that are looking for freelancers.
  • To give yourself an edge, take things to the next level by compiling a list of potential clients and reaching out to them directly.

John Stevens is an entrepreneur and founder of HostingFacts.com, an online portal that reviews web hosts. He is a regular contributor to Standford’s blog, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com and other major publications. Follow him on Twitter @hostingfactsj.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

 

The Benefits of Federal Work Study Program Reply

Students studying on the grass of a university quad.

Students studying on the grass of a university quad.

If you have begun looking into colleges, then you have likely discovered that your education is going to be expensive. You’ve probably applied to grants and scholarships and, depending on where you are in the process, you may have completed your FAFSA application as well. When looking at a way to fund your education, it is important to consider any possible avenues that are available. Depending on your and your parent’s financial situation, FAFSA may award a Grant for the Federal Work Study program.

The Federal Work Study program is not offered to all students, just those with the financial need for them. It is also not a program that all schools participate in. If you think you may qualify for the Federal Work Study program and would like to take advantage of it, it’s a good idea to check with the schools you are interested in to see if they offer something.

This program does not directly pay for your education. Instead, it provides an opportunity for you to get a part time job that pays at least minimum wage. You can use that money to pay some of your tuition, or to pay for the other expenses that come with attending college; food, laundry, supplies, housing, etc. When you qualify for the program, you’ll apply to and interview for a position, just like you would with any other job. Some work study jobs are with the school you attending, and you work on campus. Other jobs are elsewhere in the community.

If you are working on campus, often your position will be something like working at the library or bookstore or in the cafeteria. Typically, if you work off campus, your position will be something that provides some sort of public service, or that is related in some way to your field of study. The FAFSA Grant funds part of your pay, and your employer the other part. This is an incentive for an employer to hire students since the Federal Work Study Program pays a portion of the wages. If you are awarded the Work Study Grant, it is important that you start looking or a position. The Grant does not guarantee you a position, only that they will subsidize the wage.

There are other benefits to the Federal Work Study program than just money for college. You gain valuable work experience and begin to learn how to budget your time. You’ll have some work experience to put on your resume when you get out of college. If your work study job was related to your field of study, then perhaps you will have an advantage over other students, when applying for positions after college. You could enter your new career with a college degree, and a few years of experience in the field. If you qualify for the Federal Work Study program, it is definitely worth consideration. It gives you some cash you will need for college and will help prepare you for your future career.

Report all of your Financial Aid Reply

Your overall financial aid package can come from many sources. You completed the FAFSA application and the results of that application were submitted to your school. Using that, you could be awarded a variety of Federal grants, scholarships, and loans. Your school may have internal grant and scholarship opportunities that are awarded based on a variety of factors, such as your high school grades and you and your parent’s economic situation.

University, Finance, Charity and Relief Work.

College financial aid.

In addition to this, you’ve probably spent many hours applying for grants and scholarships that aren’t attached either to your school or to the FAFSA. Likely this meant writing essays and introduction letters completing many very long applications for several opportunities ranging from as little as five hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars each. These could have been scholarships offered by local community groups such as the Rotary Club or the Masons, as well as state and national groups.

The important thing to remember is that these scholarships are considered part of your overall financial aid package, even though they didn’t come directly from your school or from your Federal financial aid package. Some scholarship and grant programs notify the school of their award, or send the check directly to the school’s financial aid department. Others send or give the checks to you directly and may or may not actually report the award to the school. This is especially true of smaller gifts from local organizations. This is where your responsibility comes in. It is up to you – not the school and not the organizations giving you money – to make sure all sources of financial aid are reported to your school. Even the small $500 grant checks that you received are part of your financial aid and are considered by the school when awarding other Grants and scholarship.

There is a temptation to refrain from reporting some of the smaller awards, especially when it seems very unlikely that your school will never find out about them. Can reporting your outside financial aid reduce the financial aid package your school offers? Yes it can. However, it is considered fraudulent to withhold information regarding your outside financial aid offers and it could result in a revocation of your entire financial aid package should the school find out that information was withheld. Even more severe, you could find that your acceptance into the college is also revoked if the school feels you have been dishonest with them.

The better, and more honest, route to take would be to report everything you have received to your financial aid department. Then you can negotiate with them, should you find that your overall package was reduced. Don’t put your college career at risk to save a few bucks.

Applying for Scholarships: Start Early and Apply Often Reply

Students studyingLocal scholarships are scholarships that various organizations in your community offer students who reside in particular place to help pay for college. Often these scholarships are offered through municipalities or prominent figures that wanted to give back to their home communities. Plus, since these are largely given out based on geographic location, it can often be easier to be awarded money for school because of the smaller applicant pool.

Even if you live in a small community, there are often plenty of scholarships available, you just might have to do more work to find them. So, before you start your junior year, you should already be asking your teachers, mentors, employers, parents, and other people in your community that might know about local scholarships that might be available. You might be surprised to find out how much money is available to eager and driven students.

Most scholarship deadlines are in January, so you should be ready by mid-year of your junior year to have scholarships already lined up for after you graduate. This might seem early, but it isn’t. Plan on carving out some time in your schedule in order to find and apply for scholarships. Preparation and due diligence are key here.

Along with asking those who are close to you about available scholarships, check with your guidance office. They will likely have a list of scholarships available. But don’t just stop there as they might not have a full list. Contact state and local agencies, community colleges and universities around your area, as well as searching online for local scholarships in your city. This is a time when picking up the phone or scheduling a meeting with someone in-the-know can greatly pay off in the long run.

Getting Ready for College as a High School Senior Reply

Student Loan

Student loans and scholarship money.

It’s crunch time for high school seniors preparing for college. For many, the end of the prior school year and the summer before senior year was spent applying for scholarships and grants  and spent September applying to colleges.. Most students will have a decision from the colleges they have applied to by April, but there are things that need to be done before then.

Finishing up scholarship applications:

High school seniors should be finishing up the application process for most of their scholarship requests. It is important to review the scholarship application deadlines as well as ensure that all requested information for each scholarship is completed correctly. Many scholarships are very competitive and incomplete or incorrectly completed applications are often not considered. Others may require essays or letters of recommendation or transcripts. It is important to take the time with each scholarship that has not already been submitted to ensure that all requirements have been accurately completed.

Even though college starts in the fall, it is not too late to continue to look for other scholarship opportunities. This may be a good time to check with local social and philanthropic organisations in within the community for further opportunities. College expenses add up quickly and any extra fund sources, even smaller scholarships, are worth the time to investigate.

Two misconceptions regarding completing the FAFSA:

It is time to complete the FAFSA application, if it has not been completed already. Some students and parents think that they must wait until after 2016 income taxes are completed. Others think that they cannot apply for financial aid until they have been accepted by a college. Neither of these are true. FAFSA applications can be completed prior to income tax returns, and can be amended once the returns are completed. If a student has applied for more than one college, information on all colleges can be included in the FAS application.

With the FAFSA application, timing is everything. Many of the grants and financial aid options offered by the FAFSA are offered on a first come, first served basis. The sooner the application is completed, the more opportunities for financial aid will be available.

Most applications to college are decided in March or April. If a student has applied for Early Decision or Early Action, then likely he or she has already received the decision. It is important to speak with admissions counselors and understand the complete admissions process. Regardless of the admissions process for the individual college, having the FAFSA completed will simplify the process.

Learn more about what seniors in high school should be doing for college applications with Peterson’s.

Fill Out Your FAFSA Early to Help You Estimate Your EFC Reply

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College money

Navigating the financial aid process can be confusing and difficult, especially when trying to calculate your estimated family contribution (EFC) on your FAFSA application. Your EFC is a number that determines your eligibility to receive federal student financial aid. This number is calculated by a formula that is established by federal law, and includes your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (unemployment, Social Security, etc.), family size, and other family members who will attend college. Luckily, you don’t have to do this on your own. The US Department of Education makes a lot of great tools to help you estimate the aid you will receive.

First, if you are a high school junior scoping out colleges to attend after you graduate, you should start in January so that you can find out what the cost of attendance (COA) is for each of your prospective colleges. Depending on how much tuition and room and board is going to be, it will help you decide which colleges are worth spending time on.

So, how do you calculate your EFC? After you’ve filled out your FAFSA, this number will be available to you after the FAFSA has been fully processed. Though you are able to fill out your FAFSA between January 1st and June 30th for the same calendar year, you should file the application as soon as they are available so that you don’t miss out on any aid. You will have to fill out the FAFSA every year you attend college, so it is good to get familiar with the process.

However, if you want to estimate your EFC before filling out your FAFSA, there are many free tools online to help you do that. On the Department of Education website, they have a FAFSA4caster that will give you an estimate of your eligibility for need-based and non-need based aid, including federally subsidized and unsubsidized loans and other grants to help you pay for school.

Find out what your EFC is with a free calculator.

5 Things You Need To Know About Starbucks, Arizona State University, and the Future of Higher Education Reply

HK_Starbucks_Coffee_in_Caine_RoadIf you’ve been following any news about higher education lately, you’ve probably heard about Starbucks’s new initiative to pay for the college educations of its students. You can find plenty of good summaries and informational articles out there, including this one from Inside Higher Ed, this one from the Washington Post, and this one from the Seattle Times. Here’s a simple version:

1. A partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University Online is going to pay for employees’ tuition entirely for their junior and senior years of online education.

2. The same partnership will provide financial assistance in the form of a scholarship for the first two years of college.

3. This is not a loan, and is based entirely upon employees’ continued work at Starbucks (there is a certain minimum number of hours students must work to qualify for all this) and attendance to the Arizona State University Online program specifically.

Sounds great, right? Well, it’s maybe a bit more complicated than it at first might seem.

More…

Debt Versus Education: What You Need To Consider Reply

Education savingsGail Marksjarvis of the Chicago Tribune wrote this article (which is now unfortunately closed off to most viewers on the Chicago Tribune website), stating that students should consider debt when they decide what college to attend. In the past, we’ve argued that college shouldn’t be all about the bottom line, how much money you can make versus how much money you spend. That said, though? Gail Marksjarvis is right — you should consider debt when you decide what school to go to.

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Pay for College, Make Money? Reply

iStock_000004647415XSmallWhile catching up on admissions news over my morning coffee yesterday and putting together our Monday link roundup for this week, I came across an interesting article on CNN Money. The article fascinated me so much that I deliberately left it out of the link roundup, as I wanted to think about it, do a little research, and then talk about it in its own separate post. This is that post, if you haven’t guessed by now. More…