Maybe you got the idea in your head that scholarships, grants, and contests are just for other students. Maybe at some point you decided that applying for scholarships is just for students with 4.0 GPAs and a filing cabinet full of awards and certificates of appreciation.
Sure, there are scholarships for students with top-level achievement, but every student should put the time in to apply for scholarships – either online, through the local business community, and at the college or university he/she plans to attend. Yes, yes, every student should apply for scholarships – sometimes their parents should be applying too.
Sometimes Parents can Apply for Scholarships
Some scholarship programs are as much for the benefit of the parent as they are for the student. The scholarships that parents can apply for are often related to their employment or professional & academic organizations that they may be members with. Whenever you’re filling out an online scholarship matching profile, make sure to get some input from the parents to ensure that you aren’t missing out on opportunities that are available.
In some cases, the parent applies for the scholarship directly from the provider. But most of the time, the student still completes the application even if they are only eligible by virtue of their parent’s associations.
Myth – Scholarships are just for Freshman
While it is true that the largest number of scholarships are aimed toward first-time college students and incoming freshman, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t awards for students at other levels of their education, too!
This advice isn’t just for people who have already finished their first year in college, it also holds for students who are just getting into high school! Many scholarship programs are out there that only require the applicant to be 13 years old. Sound too young to worry about money for college? No way! Competing for scholarships early will not only increase the student’s chances of achieving free college, it will also prepare them for the academic challenges they’re likely to face throughout the rest of their school years.
Myth – Scholarships are just for Overachievers
Scholarships are available for students of all levels of academic achievement and all sorts of organizational affiliation. Cultural groups, religious groups, and professional groups all provide funding for college scholarships – and every organization sets its own requirements for eligibility and selection. One committee may be looking for flawless grades, but perhaps the next one is more interested in the student’s volunteer work and how they’ve used their time and skills to serve the community.
There may be scholarships available for you and waiting on your application based on any of the following: language(s) spoken, religion, culture, family history, race, gender, sexual orientation, major, academic achievement, financial need, or even just because you’re in the right zipcode and you’re close to a business who is providing money to college students like you.
Myth – My parents make too much Money
Not all scholarships are based on the student’s financial need. In fact, the major program that takes family income into account isn’t a scholarship at all, its federal financial aid. Its true though, some scholarships do only want to consider students with significant financial obstacles to their education, so just avoid those awards if you’re certain that you won’t qualify! There are still plenty of other awards that don’t take a student’s financial situation into account.
Every Student Should Apply for Scholarships
So the short answer to the question “Who should apply for scholarships?” is: Every student, and possibly their parents too. If you convince yourself – or let someone convince you – that you won’t find any money for school, you probably won’t. If you put in the time to find and apply for scholarships, you may just be pleasantly surprised to find some free money in your mailbox or school account.