Apply for Scholarships, Not Loans!

(This is a guest article by Caroline Fraissinet*)

Let's face it... most college students are always a little short on cash. That means that the opportunity to get a little money is always welcome and very much appreciated. One of the best ways to get some money to finance your education is through scholarships: it not only serves the purpose of paying for all the necessary expenses and allowing you to finance more ambitious goals and projects, but it’s also a great thing to put down on resumes because it shows that the student is hard-working and skilled in a particular field. It doesn't hurt either that scholarships don't have to be paid back, making them a far better option that taking out an education loan! Here are a few types of scholarship opportunities available to college students to consider:

  1. University scholarships – most colleges offer specific scholarships available to students if they achieve a certain criteria. Alumni sometimes put aside funds to recognize students that possess a certain skill set or character trait that they themselves may particularly value. Check your college’s resource center for in-school scholarships. They typically have a GPA requirement, and may include a requirement to participate in a certain club or activity, demonstration of a particular quality or skill. Some scholarships may also require an interview, and most require paperwork. Specific majors and departments may also have scholarships and grants available to students majoring in specific fields. University scholarships are typically one of the easiest to access, but competitiveness may depend on the criteria and pool of students.

  2. Local/city or town-based scholarships – individual towns and cities usually offer scholarships, but they are usually not very well advertised. This can work in a student’s favor, because if less people know about them, less people are likely to apply. They are usually broader in criteria than university-based scholarships and are typically smaller in amount. The problem with city-based scholarships is that winning them may be more based on who you know rather than what you possess, and they can be more or less competitive depending on the size of the city. However, they can be extremely rewarding and are definitely worth considering in your search for scholarships.

  3. State-based scholarships – as you might be able to tell already, for every sub-category of living, there’s usually a scholarship for it. State-based scholarships can work twofold for college students; if you go to a school that is in a different state than you reside, you might be able to apply for both. The criteria is usually similar to city-based scholarships, but may be a little broader. You might be able to find information on broader state-based scholarships while you look for city-based ones. Due to the fact that the pool has been opened up to a larger pool of people and they are typically advertised a bit more, they may be more competitive; however, they are still exclusive enough that they may not be extremely competitive.

  4. National scholarships – these are typically the most rewarding, but also the hardest to get. They can range in specificity from having a rare quality or skill to simply being a good leader. They are extremely competitive and usually require a lot more work to be considered for. This is when an updated high school resume really comes in handy; it’s typically the same process for applying for the same types of scholarships in high school, except that you are in a different age range and may be expected to offer different skills or criteria. They are usually very well advertised and very generous. Many nationally successful companies offer them, such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and McDonald’s. This is one way to go about searching for them; simply go to any large company’s website, and chances are, you’ll find information about a scholarship they offer. Good resources to find other scholarships are, and (When searching for scholarships online, however, make sure that you are using a FREE website; those that ask you to pay to access scholarships are, 99.9% of the time, scams.)

Scholarships are a great way to get money to finance your education. They range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, which can help to achieve all of your educational goals and help keep debt at bay. When looking for scholarships, work from more specific to more general to get the perfect fit for your needs and eligibility. Scholarships look great to future employers and show that you take initiative and aim to excel in a particular field or skill set. And of course, your future self will thank you for not having to worry about paying off the loans. When it comes to ways to gain a little extra cash in college, scholarships are one of the best directions to look.

*About the author: This is a guest post by Caroline Fraissinet, a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, majoring in Film/Video with a minor in TV Production. More articles by Caroline can be found here.

*Image Credit: Photograph by acycakes [via Flickr Creative Commons]

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article. This was very useful for me since I plan to start online college in a few weeks. One site for scholarships I was put on to by my counselor was
I hope that helps someone else like me trying to get an education!

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These are great practical ideas on how to use scholarships instead of loans to pay for one's education.

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