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Searching for Scholarships
We invested in Florida Pre-paid for our daughters and encouraged them to get as much as they could from Bright Futures Scholarships. When they were small, it was something we always envisioned we would do and planned accordingly. As soon as the first acceptance to college came in, so did the idea of actually having to pay for their tuition and room and board.
Regardless of that, a little help is always appreciated and, in some cases, far more necessary. There are so many scholarships available these days; the question remains in finding the right ones that they may qualify for. Some scholarships are quite competitive, some last for four years, and some are downright silly, but pay for something. All make those bills for the next four (or more) years more bearable.
The best place to start is probably on some of following websites: FastWeb and NextStudent.com (both are excellent free search engines that are updated daily), GoodCall, BestColleges.com, Cappex.com, CollegeAnswer.com, Scholarships.com, Scholarship Experts, CollegeScholarship.org, and ScholarshipGuidance.com. There are many options for free scholarship search engines as well as campus resources. Be cautious of scams and don’t pay for services that say they will find them for you or offer a money-back guarantee. Never provide personal information such as bank account numbers and credit cards numbers.
Consider creating a separate email address just for applications. Some scholarship websites sell your email information to third party companies and you will find that your inbox will be flooded with emails. Read their privacy doc to find out if they share your information with third-party companies. This will allow you to keep your personal email address and your .edu email address private.
Some require essays and believe it or not, those are the ones most avoided; therefore have the least amount of people applying. Don’t steer away from these; seek help with the essay instead. It is also recommended to apply as early as possible and be sure to have your FAFSA form completed beforehand.
More specialized searches targeted toward specific subjects, financial situations or minorities can be done through websites like: CollegeWhale.com (which will walk you through the FAFSA, student loans and financial aid, as well as match your student to the best scholarships for them), AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org (for minority students), NewsFund.org (journalism scholarships funded by Dow Jones Newspaper Fund), LatinoCollegeDollars.org and Hillel.org.
The college advisor at our high school used to send out a weekly letter with a list of new scholarships listing the name of the program, eligibility, application availability and deadline, and the number and amounts of awards given. Some are more local; others were open to the public. See if your high school offers that. Even a small scholarship that will pay for your student’s textbooks will be appreciated. One of the college advisors at a Broward County High School offers her scholarship “mini” show called the Scholarship Plug on many social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and You Tube-it is filled with scholarship information.
Look for merit-based and need-based scholarships. There are scholarships that are based solely on academic achievement. Click here for a list of these scholarships. And check with the individual Colleges you are or plan to be, enrolled in. Many have their own scholarships. We’ve provided the links below. Pay attention to submission deadlines.
- The Warrington College of Business’s Heavener School of Business
- The College of Education
- College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
- College of the Arts
- College of Dentistry – While there are more need-based scholarships available than merit-based, it is worth applying to any that are available. They also offer Military Health Scholarships as well as general scholarships.
- College of Design, Construction and Planning
- College of Engineering
- College of Health and Human Performance
- College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
- College of Journalism and Communications
- College of Public Health & Health Professions
- College of Veterinary Medicine
- College of Pharmacy
- College of Nursing
- Levin College of Law
- Gator Clubs: Another source of scholarships is the Gator Clubs. Many of the local Gator Clubs offer scholarships, both merit and need-based, to incoming qualified students. Choose a Gator Club in your area to find out about scholarships. Start your search here.
- Study Edge offers a scholarship for physics majors. Click here for information.
- Scholly: Finally, check out the app Scholly, one of the fastest growing apps after appearing on Shark Tank in November 2015. It matches the student to scholarship using specific parameters including gender, state, and race as well as customized data. The app can even spot scams and weed out scholarships that require you to give a social security number (did we mention, never, ever do this).
- The Sonn Law Group Scholarship. It is based on community involvement and open to high school seniors. The winner will receive $1500 to use toward tuition and books.
Here Are the Tell-Tale Signs of a Scholarship Scam:
Guarantee of a Scholarship – No company or organization can guarantee the receipt of a scholarship, especially before an application is submitted.
Advanced Fees – There is no reason to pay upfront for a scholarship search, since there are a number of free resources online.
Financial Information – Bank account or credit card information is not required by legitimate scholarship grantors.
High Pressure Sales Tactics – No matter how much the promoter claims you can receive, don’t give in to pressure to sign up for any product or service immediately. Ask for written information and then research the company and the product before committing to any contract or payment.
Dodging the Question – If you receive vague or evasive answers to your questions, this is a big red flag. Walk away.
We have found Goingmerry.com as a reliable scholarship resource website.
Consider creating a separate email address just to be used for scholarships. Some scholarship websites sell your email information to third party companies. This will allow you to keep your personal email address and your .edu email address private.
If your students are lucky enough to land a scholarship (or a few) it is highly recommended that they write a thank you note to the donor.