How to Get Scholarships for College Freshmen

By Dawn Marcotte , last updated October 21, 2011

Knowing how to get scholarships for college freshman is a skill that is learned through research and experience. It is important to understand who awards scholarships, how they are awarded and how to apply for consideration.

Who Awards Scholarships
There are three main sources of scholarship funds; schools, government agencies and professional organizations. There are many different types of scholarships available and it will take time to review them all. One free resource, available to both parents and students, is the Blue Book of Colleges. This large resource book is available at most local libraries and gives information on every college in the United States, as well as information on thousands of scholarships and grants.
If the student is active in any extracurricular activities there may be scholarships available from different schools for them to continue participating into their college career. Some of these scholarships will be based on ability, particularly when they are sports related. Others may only require the student to continue to participate in the activity. Check with the organization the student is involved with to see if there are any funds available for scholarships.
Private companies and organizations often have scholarships available to students who qualify either through academic excellence or by choosing a specific field of study. Currently teaching and nursing are industries with many scholarships available.
How Are Scholarships Awarded
There are two main criteria for a student to earn a scholarship, merit and achievement. Merit refers to grade point averages, scores on the SAT and ACT and how the student ranks in their class. There are some colleges who will automatically give a student a merit scholarship if they meet certain criteria. One example is Alfred State College in New York. Students with a 93 average in high school and at least a 1200 on the SAT and/or a 26 on the ACT can receive free tuition, room and board. Other scholarships rank the applicants according to their merit as long as they fulfill the basic requirements. An example is the $1000 scholarship offered by Tall Clubs International to women who are over 5’ 10” tall.
Achievement scholarships are awarded on the basis of achievements such as awards or demonstrated abilities. For example National Merit Scholars may receive scholarships directly from the schools they choose to attend. Athletic scholarships are awarded on the basis of ability to play the specific sport. The individual must continue to play at the college to earn the scholarship.
How to Apply for Scholarships
There are several ways to apply for scholarships. First, carefully read college application forms and check any box that indicates an interest in available scholarship funding. This will often give the student some ‘automatic’ scholarship if they qualify on merit. Federal scholarships and grants require students to apply through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid which is online. Completing this application will also help when applying for state and other government scholarships.
There are many scholarships available for college freshmen who take the time to do the research and submit their applications before the deadline for the specific scholarship.
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