For millions of high school students, going to college is the ultimate goal, but the increasing cost of tuition can make receiving a higher education more like a dream than a reality. While some students are eligible to receive financial assistance, others aren’t or don’t want the debt.

College scholarships are not only helpful in cutting some of the tuition costs but can benefit students in other ways. We will discuss some of the benefits and some tips for applying for scholarships.

What Is A College Scholarship?

A scholarship for college is awarded to high school students who are going to college, and in some cases, students who are already enrolled in college are eligible. A scholarship is similar to a grant in that a student doesn’t need to pay back the award money.

There are thousands of scholarships that are sponsored by businesses or other types of financial donors. While some types of scholarships for high school students may only be open to students with exemplary grades or for doing volunteer work in the community, other types may be open to any student.

A scholarship award may be as little as under $100 while others may be thousands of dollars. Some awarded funds may only be used for specific college costs, such as room and board, but others are more general and can be used for anything related to college.

The Benefits Of Scholarships

A scholarship to college can ease some of the financial strain of paying for college. According to The College Board, here is the average cost of a school year (2016-2017) at different types of colleges:

A two-year community college costs $7,560 a year, public colleges for in-state residents costs $14, 210 a year, and private, non-profit colleges cost $26,100 a year.

It’s important to keep in mind that costs vary depending on housing and other things needed for a year of college.

While some students are eligible for financial aid, many students are still left to foot some of the bill, and in most cases, students are required to pay for a semester in full before starting classes. Other students aren’t eligible for financial or don’t want to make loan payments after graduating college.

Although many scholarship awards don’t cover all the costs associated with college, they can offer a nice alternative to applying for student loans and other financial aid. While financial assistance is one of the main benefits of receiving a scholarship, here are some others.

Providing The Opportunity To Focus More On Education

Over half of college students end up working part-time or full-time while attending college courses. While working and going to school is a part of living in the “real” world, it can be stressful and take some of the focus off of education.

Getting a scholarship can help reduce financial costs so that college students don’t need to work as much. Working less means that there’s a greater chance to thrive in school (rather than drop out or take time out), get better grades, and have a more fulfilling college experience overall.

Scholarships Look Great On Resumes

Not only can a scholarship benefit you during your college career but it can help you as you search for your first job after graduation. Anyone who applies for a job knows that the employment field is competitive and you need a good resume, with some eye-catching material, to set you apart from other candidates.

Depending on the type of scholarship you receive, it may be a great addition to your resume. A National Merit Scholarship, for instance, is often revered as impressive to potential employers as it shows you know how to work hard and standout in a competitive field.

Enjoying the Full College Experience

Having a little more financial stability in college (thanks to a scholarship) can not only help you focus on your education but enjoy life as a college student. Not having to find a balance between being a full-time student and full-time employee allows some students to seek out activities on campus, join clubs, and have a little time to relax.

While the main purpose of college is to get good grades and receive a degree, students should be able to have a little fun and enjoy living an independent life free of financial worry.

Tips For Looking and Applying For A Scholarship

Most scholarship experts encourage students to start applying for scholarships early and often. While sophomore and junior year of high school are ideal times to start looking and applying for a college scholarship, high school seniors and even college students may find some scholarship opportunities; when in doubt, ask. Here are some other things to consider.

Make Time, Be Patient, And Be Confident

Searching and applying for a scholarship can be a long, stressful, and arduous process. As you apply, remaining confident and positive can help you get through the somewhat tedious process of searching, filling out applications, and reading all the fine print.

If you can’t find a scholarship you are eligible for, keep looking. Don’t get chosen as an award recipient? Keep applying. You can be successful in your scholarship search, but it will take some time and effort on your part.

Check Out Scholarship Sites

While it would be nice for the scholarship to come to you, it’s typically up to you to find one (or more) that you are eligible for and as we already mentioned, that can take some time. Searching for a scholarship may feel a little bit like searching for a needle in a haystack, but if you check use scholarship sites, you may have better luck.

There are plenty of scholarship sites that you can use for free (just for signing up), and you can refine your search based on location, fields of study, and other factors. These types of sites are designed to help you find a scholarship that’s best suited for you.

Apply For Any Scholarship Award, Regardless of Amount

Every student looking for a scholarship or two is looking for a scholarship that awards “big” money. While you may be the perfect candidate for the $5,000 scholarship, don’t pass up the chance to try and get a scholarship for a smaller amount.

A small scholarship of $500 will still help you with expenses towards college, and you’re chances may be greater at getting the award because smaller scholarships are often less competitive.

There’s A Scholarship For Every Type Of Student

Don’t have a 4.0 GPA? Are your writing skills less than stellar? Are you planning on going to a two-year college rather than a state university? Many high school students assume that they aren’t eligible for a scholarship due to their post-high school plans or their high school academic record.

A Coca-Cola Scholarship is just one of the opportunities for students with different backgrounds. Remember, one of the best ways to find a scholarship that you qualify for is using any of the scholarship sites.

Pay Close Attention To Deadlines

If you’re planning on applying for more than one scholarship, it’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet or some other document to stay organized. Deadlines are likely to vary from one scholarship to the next so make sure you pay close attention to the date and plan to submit your application at least a week or two before its due.

Have A Proofreader

You may not need (or want) help filling out applications for a scholarship but if you need to complete an essay, it doesn’t hurt to have someone proofread, even if you are a good writer. Ask a parent, teacher, or even one of your friends to give you some feedback and allow yourself some extra time for editing, just in case you need to make some changes.

Be Prepared To Wait

Some scholarship recipients wait months before they find out if they are awarded money. Just like a job, and even waiting for an acceptance letter from college, applying for a scholarship may take some time and you should prepare to wait.

During your waiting period, check out and apply for other scholarships. Don’t assume that since you applied for one that you will automatically get the scholarship. Remember, you can always get more than one scholarship to help you out through college.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Whether you’re in high school or college, don’t hesitate for asking for help when applying for a scholarship. It can be a lengthy and complicated process and asking for a teacher, mentor, or parent’s help is always a good idea.

If you have particular questions about applying for a scholarship that you are interested in, contact the business, sponsor, or foundation that is awarding the money.

Thousands of scholarships are available every year. If you aren’t the lucky recipient one year, try again the next, you’ll never know until you keep trying.

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