Tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to avoid falling prey to scams and unscrupulous companies that guarantee or promise scholarships, grants or fantastic financial aid packages.
5 Tips for Scholarship Success
1. Be proactive!
Many applications require two or more recommendation letters from adults who know you well. Ask teachers, counselors, coaches, program or work supervisors for recommendations so you have them on hand. Applications may also ask for an official transcript of your grades and SAT scores, so request that from your school.
It’s also a good idea to ask the colleges you’re applying to how they process outside scholarships since some colleges replace institutional financial aid with outside scholarship money.
2. Search local scholarships!
There are scholarships based on the state or the city you call home. Your school, neighborhood, employer, place of worship or community center may also have scholarships they sponsor or know about, so be sure to ask around!
3. Find scholarships to fit you!
Look at the requirements for GPA, ethnic background, neighborhood of residence, family income, and leadership or volunteer experience to see if you qualify to apply. If not, move on to find scholarships that are a better fit. Use this worksheet to help focus your search and uncover opportunities you may not have considered before.
4. Represent yourself well!
Highlight your strengths, achievements, and goals, as well as any challenges you’ve overcome to demonstrate why you’re deserving of this award. Read the directions carefully and turn in all of the required materials on time. If you’re required to write an essay, make sure that you understand what the prompt question is asking and answer it completely. Applications should be typed or written very neatly in pen, and edited for errors. Teachers, school counselors, parents, and classmates can be great editors! Lastly, applications should not be crumpled, smudged or food-stained.
5. Be aware of scams!
You should NEVER have to pay a fee to apply to a scholarship so steer clear of ones that require fees and ignore notices of winning a scholarship if you didn’t apply.