Scholarships can pay your way through college – or at least make it possible to piece together with loans and savings a way to pay for college before, during and after the experience. Even as you look at what the limits to your finances may or may not be, look everywhere for scholarships. Scholarships are gifts of money to students so that they can pay for their education. There are several typical sources for this sort of investment in education.
One source is the community you live in. This is especially true for high school students looking towards college. The local business community will invest in its future, in a broad way, by making scholarships available. These will be linked to community leadership, or potential leadership, so will usually look at academic success alongside other school and community involvements such as athletics and extracurriculars, jobs and volunteer positions.
Another community source can be a memorial, although it is also possible that the college will have these as well. One example is the grieving family who has lost a young son or daughter setting up a scholarship fund in the name of the child in their memory. There may be stipulations such as low income levels or fields of study that the child was interested in or perhaps a medical field that could produce breakthroughs to save people who suffer from the disease that took their child. The college is more likely to have a memorial scholarship in the name of someone who had a long and established career in their field.
High school guidance counselors will be the best source of information about community scholarships. Community scholarships are usually awarded at high school graduations and so the counselor can help with applications and deadlines. Even if you are no longer in high school, a call to a counselor can direct you to sources of more information including web sites.
As colleges strive to develop “alumni of distinction,” they are going to support the people who will bring a good reputation to their institution, especially in fields for which they are famous. The school or alumni from a specific department or even one benefactor may decide to endow a scholarship fund to support a certain type of student, often in a specific field of study. Look over college web sites carefully and get further information from Financial Aid offices about all the types of aid they provide.
An honors scholarship will provide finances for the academically gifted student and is often linked to a special program where a small group is challenged to learn and grow beyond the challenges their peers face. A needs-based scholarship is not directly related to academics but is a grant from the college with minimal requirements beyond income.
Finally, the wide world of the web can link you to scholarships that come out of corporate advertising budgets or are formed to serve a certain type of business rather than a locality. Check with employers: yours, your parents’, your spouse’s — in the case of older, non-traditional students, it is important to follow all sorts of connections. Find out about those companies, and similar ones through their HR department or corporate web site. Then follow up with internet searches – use creativity and connections and you can find free money to further your education and ability to succeed in a career!