How to Find Scholarships in Your State
By William Berk
, last updated August 5, 2011
In a world of ever-increasing costs for college, finding scholarships or additional sources of funding is vital. After all, with tuition increasing at a rate faster than inflation, it is a wise idea to apply for financial aid, including scholarships. This article will show you how.
Scholarships: Need vs. Merit
Scholarships are awarded by a myriad of organizations around the nation and world, for different purposes. Some are entirely merit based, that is, one can win the scholarship based entirely their own merit, not withstanding financial considerations, and other scholarships are need based (or a combination of need and merit). Need-based scholarships are just that, based on the financial need of a student, usually.
Local vs. State
One important distinction that should be made is that of local scholarships versus more broad scholarships in terms of availability, such as state-wide and national scholarships. Students should take the time to apply to local scholarships in their own state, as these scholarship programs may have fewer applicants than state-wide or national scholarships.
A great place to commence your scholarship search is www.fastweb.com. This site gives you a free scholarship search tool, where you can join the site for free, then give specifics, such as your intended major, current or planned college and university, and interests, among other factors. Fastweb then takes the specifications that you entered, and uses it to give you a list of scholarships that match your interests, that you may be able to apply for.
Another technique that may work is "cold-calling" organizations that may potentially offer scholarships. If you conduct a Google search for "(your hometown) scholarships", for instance, you may possibly find sources of locally awarded scholarship funds. Contact local companies and organizations, and ask them if they offer college scholarships or similar programs. You never know, there may be a new opportunity out there, and the only way to find out is to just be on the lookout for it! Be sure to keep deadlines in mind, as well.
Depending on your income level and other factors (which would determine your eligibility), you may be able to apply to state-run programs which can grant you money for higher education. For example, California offers the Cal Grant program, which awards college undergraduates with funds for their education, whether the college attended is a public or private institution. The deadline to apply (after submitting the FAFSA), is usually March 2 of every year. Visit www.calgrants.org for more information.
When applying for the scholarships that you found as a result of your search, be sure that you are completely qualified for them. Indeed, you do not waste your time on an application for a program that you are not eligible for. Read the eligibility requirements carefully. Secondly, Neatly fill out the application, and include all materials. If the essay required is 1,000 words needed, send in an 1,000 word statement, not 800 words! Follow the specific application requirements to the "T" for scholarship success.