Beyond the Books
Q: How can I find out about what scholarships are available?
Your best scholarship research sources include: The internet (try some of the many free scholarship search engines, such as the one that can be found at
); your local community (contact your local chamber of commerce); and your high school guidance counselor and/or college financial aid officer.
Q: Can I apply for a scholarship if I don't know what college I'm going to attend?
Absolutely. You actually can start applying for scholarships as early as your freshman year in high school. If you win a scholarship before you know which college you'll attend, the scholarship organization usually will either write you a check (with your assurance that you will use the money for college), or simply give you the money when you decide where to attend college.
Q: Should I have to pay a fee to apply for a scholarship?
In most cases, no. Since scholarships are meant to support students who need funds to pay for college, they shouldn't require those same students to shell out money. Usually, scholarships that require a fee are scams. Be aware, and avoid these types of programs!
Q: If I didn't win a scholarship, can I apply again next year?
Usually. Unless you no longer qualify for some reason, you can apply for a scholarship again. However, consider whether or not your application will be dramatically stronger the next time around. If you will essentially submit the same application, you probably will be better off spending your time applying to a different scholarship competition.
Q: Can I lose my scholarship once it's been awarded?
Yes. Most scholarships that are renewable, meaning that you may receive them for more than one year, will have requirements for you to keep the award. These may stipulate that you must continue to attend the same college, maintain a certain GPA, or keep the same major. If you fail to live up to the requirements, they may revoke the scholarship.
Q: Can I apply for scholarships while I'm a college student?
Certainly. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes that many students make is NOT applying for scholarships once they graduate from high school! There are literally thousands of scholarships available for students who are already in college… and even some for graduate students. Look for scholarship opportunities through your college or university.
Q: If I win a scholarship, will my college take away some of my other financial aid?
Possibly. Many colleges require you to report the scholarships that you win and then adjust your financial aid package. For example, if you win a $1,000 scholarship, the college may decrease your financial aid package by $1,000. However, if your college has this kind of policy, remember to ask them to decrease your loan amount, instead of your grants. It's better to receive more in scholarships, so that you don't have to pay back loan money later! It is still worthwhile, because scholarships look great on your resume.
Q: Can I transfer my scholarship if I go to another school?
Maybe. Of course, if the scholarship is from a college or an alumni organization, you can only use it at that specific college. However, if the scholarship is from another group, you can probably transfer the scholarship with you, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements. However, don’t make any assumptions. It's important that you contact the awarding organization directly to ask and make any necessary arrangements.
Q: Should I bother applying for scholarships even if I don't have perfect grades?
Definitely, just do your research first. There are scholarships for all kinds of things, including achievements, leadership, public service, art, athletics, theatre and dance. Even the scholarships that are based on academic achievements are often not solely based on grade point averages. Instead, the scholarship boards may be seeking students who best fit their selection criteria, which may include other factors like character, motivation, leadership, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or involvement in specific activities. Find the scholarship/s that fit you best, and apply!
Q: Do all scholarships require an essay?
No, but most do. Essays are really the best (and often the only) way for scholarship judges to hear directly from you as an application, and to get to know you beyond your grades, test scores and other data that you provide on your application form. There are some types of scholarships that don't require essays, however, especially those for art or music that may require a portfolio, project or audition.
Q: Can I win a scholarship if my parents make too much money?
Yes. There are two types of scholarships: need-based and merit-based. As the name suggests, need-based scholarships are based on your financial need and your parents' income. Merit-based scholarships are based on other factors such as academic or extracurricular achievements, and will not usually be affected by family income.
Q: What is a renewable scholarship?
Renewable scholarships can be won once and then renewed in the following years. These are the best kind of scholarship, because you can win the money for more than one year! Just make sure that you live up to your end of the scholarship bargain, and you will receive money each year.
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