By: Reyna Gobel MBA, MJ
While this is probably my 100th article on scholarships, I’m writing this one from the perspective of being a college student. In January, I went back to school for a Master’s in Public Health in Nutrition. I’m doing it in part to write better health articles for our readers. So I’m thinking about scholarships myself and had to ask Pamela, the Scholarship Shark, a few questions we all want to know the answers to.
She teaches students how to win scholarships through powerful, targeted scholarship searches and essay writing. To make sure to get all the information families need, I added my Josh Pesin to the call. He’s a two-time college parent. His son Hunter is applying now and hoping to go to MIT.
Here’s Pam’s best advice:
For Josh, how he can get more money if he chooses MIT
MIT doesn’t award merit-based aid because it’s so competitive to get in that they don’t have to fight for the top students with other schools. They do give out need-based financial aid. Since need-based family income can be quite high and still receive some need-based aid at Ivy League schools, she encourages all students to fill out the FAFSA and CSS Profile, at schools that use it, and see what happens.
For all of us, where you should look for scholarships
Everywhere. Use sites such as scholarship.com and Sallie Mae’s scholarship site where you can search for scholarships based on anything from having red hair to a talent or hobby. I personally received community service scholarships. My GPA was good, but it was a little less than it could have been because I spent so much time on community service. I also received some money for school for being a daughter of a veteran. Ask both high school and college financial aid counselors for their scholarship recommendations. For instance, my grad school keeps a list of scholarships other students at the college previously received. I’ve also heard of scholarships found in odd places such as Costco newsletters.
Whether larger scholarships better
The best scholarships are the ones you win. Thus, study scholarships carefully to make sure you match up to what they want. Review essay rules carefully, too. Not reading essay descriptions carefully can cost you a scholarship you’d otherwise get.
How to find local scholarships for Josh
Think about the activities that you and your son are involved in. Your running club offers a scholarship. If Hunter is ineligible, look for other running clubs that offer scholarships. Since you’re a teacher, look for national and local scholarships for children of teachers. Contact the teacher’s union, too.
Look out for scams
Don’t answer unsolicited emails sent directly to you, unless you verified the scholarship with a trusted source such as your high school counselor. Also, be wary when scholarships ask for social security or other personal information.
What the purpose of a fancy scholarship course is
Our class doesn’t find scholarships for students. It’s really an education class on essay writing and admissions that will help your student succeed academically all around. For instance, finding potential scholarships is pretty easy nowadays with sites such as scholarships.com. However, understanding what to write in the essay can be a bit more difficult. A student who can study the scholarship rules and write a stellar essay can also write a stellar admissions essay or academic paper in college.
How to find local scholarships
Think about the activities that you and your son are involved in. Your running club offers a scholarship. If Hunter is ineligible, look for other running clubs that offer scholarships. Your local credit union may offer scholarships. And talk with other parents who are also looking for scholarships for their teens. They may find a scholarship that their teen wouldn’t qualify for that yours would. And vice versa
For me, how the scholarship search differ for grad students:
All the same scholarship rules apply. There may be less of them but you can use the same search engines. Tuition reimbursement programs are something everyone should check from their employers.
Whether a high school student, college parent, or adult student returning to college, plan out your college scholarship search. Look beyond what the college itself offers and apply to the scholarships you have a real chance at getting. A scholarship could be worth a million dollars, but it is still a waste of time to apply if you aren’t qualified to receive it.