College scholarships can range in size from $500 or less to scholarships that pay for an entire year of college. Though some think that these prizes are only available to musicians, athletes or minorities, there are a number of scholarships available for students studying a specific subject, those from certain cities or states and those who meet other basic eligibility requirements. While you might think that there is a finite number of scholarships you can apply to, you can apply to and accept as many as you need to pay for your education.
When to Look for Scholarships
A common misconception among high school students is that they only need to look for scholarships during their senior years. The truth is that you can begin looking for scholarships as early as your freshman year. While some programs will only grant you money when you begin taking college classes, others will award money to younger students that they can use when they reach college. Waiting until your senior year may limit your options because you cannot get all your applications completed before each deadline.
Who Qualifies for Scholarships?
Nearly any students qualifies for at least one scholarship. Some fraternal organizations offer scholarships that are only open to the children or dependents of members, and athletic organizations often offer scholarships for students who get high grades and play at least one sport. Specialized scholarships are available as well. You may qualify for a scholarship because you wrote for the high school newspaper, played an instrument in high school or are left handed. Most organizations and groups will give you a complete list of requirements that you must meet to qualify for a scholarship through one of its programs.
How Many Should You Apply For?
According to USA Today College, nearly $3 billion in federal funds went unclaimed in a single year. Some reports indicate that more than $1 billion in scholarship funds go unclaimed each year as well. That is because students often think that they won’t qualify for scholarships or that it will take too long to apply. Colleges do not limit the amount of aid that you can get in terms of scholarships, and there is no limit to the number of times you can apply to these programs and organizations either. You should apply for any scholarship that you qualify for to get more money for college.
How to Apply
Applying for college scholarships does take some effort but is easier than you might think. Most of these programs require that you submit an application that tells the organization more about yourself and that you write a simple essay. For art scholarships, you may need to submit a portfolio of some of your past work, including artwork you created or short stories that you wrote. Some programs have multiple steps that may include an interview with someone on the board or a meet and greet that you must attend.
The more scholarships that you qualify for and win, the more money you have to pay for your college expenses. You may receive money that goes directly into your college account or a check sent right to your home. Make sure that you apply for as many college scholarships as you come across and qualify for to get even more money for the future.