Preparing to apply for college scholarships to help defray the costs of obtaining higher education is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who do not have a lot of extra time on their hands for research and preparation. There is increasing competition for available scholarships due to the continually rising costs of higher education, and it can be important to budget the time to spend equipping yourself or your child to have the best shot at available scholarships for affording higher education. Scholarships are but one of several means for affording higher education, including savings, loans, grants, work-study programs, and federal aid, and it will likely take a combination of several types of financial support to afford a higher learning degree. Learn more about fall 2011 scholarship prep help that can really get you moving in the right direction for finding and applying for the scholarships that you qualify for.
The first step when applying for a scholarship is to research available scholarships and decide which ones to apply for. Since many scholarships have fairly intensive applications processes, and often you will need character or academic references and quite a bit of lead time, it is important to start your research right away to be sure you will have some type of funding by the date you are planning to start college. Here, the best way to start researching is by sitting down with yourself or your child and making a list of all the areas where you might qualify for a potential scholarship. These areas can include academic performance, arts achievements, ethnic background, minority status, special interest groups you work for or belong to, your field of study or research you want to do, athletic ability, and more. Make your list and then begin searching for scholarships in these areas.
You should also check with the institutions you plan to apply to and find out what scholarships they have available to students and how to apply for those scholarships. You will likely have to wait until you are accepted to the institution before applying to those scholarships, so apply early to the ones you are interested in. You can research scholarships on websites like Scholarships, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website's Scholarship Wizard, with any special interest groups you are affiliated with, FinAid, Fast Web, and ACINet. There are a wide variety of scholarship search engines available today but these are some of the best.
Once you have a list of scholarships you feel you may qualify for, now it is time to gather the information you will need to apply. If you are applying for several scholarships, use a spreadsheet to keep track of the requirements, the deadlines, and the decision dates to be sure you don't miss sending in important information and thus disqualifying yourself. You should also not feel shy to contact the applications office if you have questions to be sure that you provide the correct information in your application.