February 5, 2010 | Adam Sorensen | Leave a comment Having a college education is extremely important in today’s world. A degree is linked to higher wages, better jobs, and even job security, so it’s important to go to school. The problem is that not everyone can afford to go to college, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from going. There are many financial aid options available to potential students one of which is scholarships. Scholarships are essentially free money, but each one comes with a different set of requirements, but don’t give up yet. There are thousands of scholarships available and you’ll most likely qualify for one. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify just give it a try. Even students that belong to families who earn over $150,000 a year are still eligible to receive scholarships. In the past scholarships were largely given to talented or disadvantaged individuals but now even more people are receiving scholarships. Scholarships are for Everyone Since the early 1990s colleges have even been offering scholarships to a variety of students including some from upper class families. So it really doesn’t matter if your family can afford to pay for college or not because public and private colleges alike are providing tuition discounts and scholarships to students and families in order to attract a diverse student body, which includes affluent students. Because ultimately, the better students a college attracts, the better their reputation becomes. There haven’t been many studies done on how many students actually receive scholarships but the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) conducted a study and found that in 2003-04, students at four year colleges represented 71.4 percent of scholarship recipients and in 2007-08 that number rose to 77 percent. Approximately 1.1 million undergraduate students received scholarships in 2007-08 and of those the average scholarship amount was $2,523.31. ((“The Number of Scholarships.” FinAid 2010. Web. 5 May 2010. <http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/awardcount.phtml#NPSAS>)) Scholarships help students cover college costs and actually earn a degree. However, there are many students on campus that never received a scholarship and they were still able to attend college, because there are other options. According to College Board students at private schools received a 33.5 percent price break and at public schools it was nearly 15 percent. This shows that schools are willing to give tuition breaks in order to get specific students at their school. Schools are competing for students so many are offering breaks to students in-state as well as out of state. If schools offer a discount to out of state students, then they are likely to get more of them. The University of Toledo reduced tuition for students from Michigan which ranged between $9,000 and $12,000, and as a result the number of out-of-state students rose by 3 times. (( O’Shaughnessy, Lynn. “How Rich Kids Get College Aid.” CBS Money Watch. 16 Mar. 2009. Web. 5 May 2010. <http://moneywatch.bnet.com/saving-money/article/college-aid-for-the-affluent/278871/>.)) Potential students should check out a number of schools including their financial aid and tuition breaks which are offered at each school if they have the grades, test scores, and other talents to secure some type of aid. But first they need to collect all of the paperwork. Necessary Documents â€¢Â Â Â Transcript â€¢Â Â Â Standardized test scores â€¢Â Â Â Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA or PROFILE â€¢Â Â Â Parent’s financial information, including tax returns â€¢Â Â Â One or more letters of recommendation â€¢Â Â Â Proof of eligibility (e.g. membership credentials) â€¢Â Â Â Medical records for student and parents â€¢Â Â Â Military records for student and parents â€¢Â Â Â Job and career proof for student and parents Once students have these documents it’s time for them to start researching scholarships that they might be eligible for. There are thousands of scholarships available but students can search for them either by the internet or in books at their local library. But students should note that the scholarships that are easiest to apply for are also going to be the ones receiving the most applicants. ((Holtz, Rachael. “Which College Scholarships Are Easy to Get? We Have the Data.” College Stats. 23 Feb. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://collegestats.org/articles/2010/02/which-college-scholarships-are-easy-to-get-we-have-the-data/>)) Tips And another important thing to know is that scholarships with the greatest award amounts are going to be the ones that most people apply for. However, there are many scholarships available with smaller award amounts that are never applied for. And securing several small scholarships can equal the amount of larger scholarships. Another tip for students to realize is that if scholarships require essays and a lot of work fewer people are going to apply for those. So students should apply for those ones. Plus, many of the essays required for scholarships are similar so students can write one essay and then tweek it in order to fill the other essays. And since there are thousands of scholarships available, it’s important for potential students to understand the types of scholarships available. Types of Scholarships Available Specific attribute Big and Tall Left Handed Person Blue Eyed Candy-Holic Name Scholarships Program Business Education Engineering Health Sciences Merit GPA Class Standing in High School SAT or ACT Scores Talents or Skills Sports Music Art Health or Disability Blind, Low Vision Cancer Deaf, Hearing Loss Learning Disabilities Wheelchair User Ancestry Native American Pacific Islander African American Latino Asian Age or Sex Over 40 Women Over 25 Once students have gathered all of their documents and they have done a little research, that’s when it’s time to start the real work. Individuals need to be on top of things and that means it’s time for them to go and visit or speak with financial aid counselors at their chosen schools about tuition discounts, institutional grants, as well as state and federal financial aid. Then if individuals know what they want to study they should visit specific academic departments in order to learn about specific scholarships that are offered. Next, students should consider using scholarship search engines because there are a lot more options online and students can generally take those scholarships to the school of their choice. Then individuals should actually apply and quit worrying about whether they’ll qualify. And lastly, individuals must apply early. If they miss the deadline, they’re not going to get the scholarship.Â But individuals also need to remember to be on the lookout for scholarship scams. If a site requires a fee or guarantees a scholarship then avoid that site and find a new one. (( United States. National Association of Student Financial Aid or Administrators. Department of Education. Eight Steps to Winning a Scholarship. 19 Feb. 2009. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.nasfaa.org/publications/2008/anscholarships070208.html>.)) Scholarship Search Engines There are many great scholarship sites out there so start your search. They usually require individuals to create a profile but then it matches students with available scholarships that they might be eligible for. These are just a few examples of sites that specialize in scholarships. College-Board College-Scholarships FastWeb ScholarshipExperts FastAid When individuals have found some scholarships that they are eligible for, they need to start applying for them. However, students need to put in their best effort into scholarship applications because there’s competition and it can save students thousands of dollars out of pocket if they win a scholarship. But these are some hints that can help students be successful through the process. (( Clark, Kim. “Upping Your Odds of Winning: You’ve Got to Play to Snag Scholarship Dollars.” US News and World Report 10 Sept. 2006. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/060910/18scholarships_2.htm>.)) Hints for Success â€¢Â Â Â Don’t copy previous winners be creative and do something else that makes you stand out. â€¢Â Â Â Be sure to edit your entry for grammar and punctuation â€¢Â Â Â Think about what others will do and put time and effort into your answer it will be refreshing for judges and show how smart and different you are from others â€¢Â Â Â Dress up for the interview or video â€¢Â Â Â Local scholarships are often times easier to win â€¢Â Â Â Use your social networks to find out about scholarships and money â€¢Â Â Â Stay on topic Other types of scholarships which weren’t mentioned earlier are company scholarships. If individuals or their parents work for a company there might be a scholarship available to them. But there are also other companies that offer scholarships to anyone. Scholarship Sources Corportate â€¢Â Â Â Home Depot â€¢Â Â Â Coca-Cola â€¢Â Â Â AT&T â€¢Â Â Â Discover Card â€¢Â Â Â Wal-Mart â€¢Â Â Â ExxonMobil Private â€¢Â Â Â Kim and Harold Louie Family Foundation â€¢Â Â Â W.E. Boggs Endowed Scholarship â€¢Â Â Â Dr. Thomas and Martha Bourland Burch Endowed Scholarship â€¢Â Â Â David and Betty Cole Endowed Scholarship â€¢Â Â Â Jimmie Uval Crane Memorial Scholarship â€¢Â Â Â John S. Crubaugh Memorial Endowed Scholarship â€¢Â Â Â Carolyn Franks Memorial Endowed Scholarship â€¢Â Â Â Dawn Marie Johnson Scholarship for Pre-Medicine Majors Community Organizations â€¢Â Â Â The Community Foundation of Wabash County, Indiana â€¢Â Â Â The Knights of Columbus â€¢Â Â Â Algiers Women of Action â€¢Â Â Â EdFund Religious Organizations â€¢Â Â Â Mary Elizabeth Kellogg Memorial Scholarship â€¢Â Â Â Abraham A. Spack Fellowship â€¢Â Â Â Baptist General Convention of Texas â€¢Â Â Â Italian Catholic Federation There are thousands of scholarships out there that equal millions of dollars. If students are willing to put in the time to research and apply for scholarships they might end up saving themselves thousands of dollars. Anyone can get an education if they want to. The American Dream is still alive and an education is one of the best ways to improve your life. Take advantage of the opportunities that around you and earn your degree. Start by filling out a simple form and learn more about earning a college degree.