Finances and Aid

Our counselors answered: To find scholarships, where should I look, what's needed of me, and which ones seem craziest?

To find scholarships, where should I look, what's needed of me, and which ones seem craziest?

Marilyn Emerson

Class: President
Focus: Emerson Educational Consulting

Look carefully, you may find a scholarship just for you.

The key to getting a scholarship is research. Start with your guidance counselor and college financial aid offices. Beyond traditional scholarships for academic achievement, there are literally thousands of special and unusual scholarships out there, each with its own requirements. These scholarships may emphasize community service, leadership or work experience. Others are for students with very specific interests and talents. The Vegetarian Resource Group offers $5000 each to two students who promote vegetarianism in their school and community; the American Association of Candy Technologists offers $5000 to one lucky student interested in a career in the candy industry. There are even scholarships for left handedness, twins, knitters and skateboarders. Make sure to do your homework; look at all the details. Pick those scholarships that match your interests and qualifications. Proofread your application. Then, proofread it again. And most importantly, don’t miss the deadline!

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Ruth Vedvik

Class: Principal
Focus: Hardwick Day Inc.

Your grades might get you more help...

Make sure, students, that you know all of the opportunities available from the schools themselves. Ask your admission counselor, check on line, check it out however you best seek out new information. Most of the scholarships that require a separate application process are for creative talent or leadership. It is late enough in the year that seniors have probably already missed out. Juniors, get ahead of the game. Know this stuff early next fall – don’t miss any deadlines. Also, look at the financial aid web pages, many schools tell you how much money they give you based on your grades and test scores…duh, apply to schools that want you (will give you $$) because you’re at the top of their academic heap or profile. If you’re grades are in the top quartile of their freshmen class you’ll likely get a half tuition scholarship at a private school.

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John Frahlich

Class: Counseling Department Chair
Focus: Hudson High School

A Careful College Search Can Outweigh Scrambling For Scholarships...

The best advice I can give you on scholarships is that you should not be a senior during spring semester asking this question. Assuming you are a junior, remember that most scholarships awarded come directly from colleges and universities. It would be best for you to put your efforts into a college search that includes academic fit as well as financial fit. The stronger your credentials relative to other students on campus, the more likely you are to get merit based aid. Also examine the average financial aid package awarded and consider the amount of aid that is gift aid vs. loan. Many colleges have financial aid calculators on their websites. This can be a helpful tool. Contact the financial aid experts at colleges of interest. They are your best resource!

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Esther Walling

Class: College Counselor
Focus: Thomas Jefferson High School

Being Moneywise and Safe in Search of Scholarships...

Avoid scholarship search companies that charge money. This is generally a sure sign that it's a scam. If they say they will do everything for you, guarantee that you'll get money, ask for your credit card or bank account number, or tell you that you've been selected by a "national foundation" or you are a "finalist" in a contest you never entered, RUN FOR THE HILLS. Better yet run to the more reliable search companies that don't cost anything, Cappex, Zinch, Fastweb, Scholarshipexperts, Scholarshippoints, even College Board and ACT. You'll find more scholarships tailored to your interests and qualifications than the "pay us" companies. Don't let them tell you you can't find this information anywhere else. You just did!

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Kathryn Favaro

Class: College admissions consultant
Focus: California College Prep

Look locally and identify your best matches....

My first tip for maximizing your scholarship search is to look locally. Visit your high school college center to get a list of local scholarships. Local scholarships have much less competition than national one's. While their dollar amount is sometimes less, the likelihood of receiving them is far higher. Also, when looking for scholarships, take some time to identify your best matches. Look for scholarships that reward your strengths. There are scholarships for almost everything including: academics, talents, interests, cultural background, religion, etc. And remember to think outside the box. I have heard of scholarships for exceptionally tall students, best duct tape prom dresses and students with specific last names

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Shelley Levine

Class: Certified Educational Planner
Focus: College Bound

How to make the most of your scholarship opportunities....

Your desire to partner with your parents is admirable. Begin by creating a profile with several scholarship search engines, including, and Your unique qualities (including your academic and social interests, family and birth circumstances, gender, political persuasion, geographic location, sexual orientation, handedness, health, and more) will be matched to scholarships from many sources. When applying, be sure you stay within the word limit, remain on topic, be concise, adhere to all grammar and spelling rules, and if possible, be creative. Scholarship committees are looking for students who are bright, interesting and represent their mission. Best of luck!

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Kiersten Murphy

Class: Executive Director and Founder
Focus: Murphy College Consultants LLC

The Best Source of Aid is Usually From the Colleges or the Government...

Before you spend your entire year searching, you should know that if you have been awarded financial aid by a college, outside scholarships, such as those that come from Rotary or Kiwanis, can actually reduce your aid package.  According to federal guidelines, outside scholarships are considered resources, and colleges must consider these numbers when putting together an aid package. And if you were wondering, yes, you do have to report these outside scholarships. To learn more about outside scholarships and how they impact your aid package, be sure to review websites such as and of course, review each college’s financial aid website to review their outside scholarship policy.

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Lynette Mathews

Class: Director
Focus: The College Planning Center

A good reason to choose a college major: Scholarships!...

There are similarities between scholarship committee decisions and investment decisions. Typically, an investor will evaluate an organization’s track record and assess their future potential. Similarly, scholarship committees review student’s past performance as well as their plan for the future. It’s tough to make a case for a strong future plan without a college major. To take the pressure off a bit, consider it your plan ‘o the day - knowing that you can change your major and career objectives at any time. If you are looking to maximize scholarship opportunities, consider reflecting upon your interests and skills, exploring potential careers, and making your plan!

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Pam Proctor

Class: Author
Focus: The College Hook

Think local, and think “hook” when you’re seeking scholarships....

To max out on scholarships, start with your local Dollars for Scholars (DFS), a network of community foundations with 1,200 chapters coast to coast. Local philanthropists funnel scholarship money through DFS to worthy students in their communities. Next, apply to schools that need you. Schools a little bit down the pecking order in the rankings may recruit you because of your “hook” -- a special talent or achievement that sets you apart. For example, one multicultural student with a string of science awards won a $30,000-per-year merit scholarship at a hot university in the South that wanted her diversity and scientific brainpower to bolster the student body.

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Maureen Lawler

Class: College Counselor
Focus: Bishop Kelley High

Not all scholarships require a 4.0 gpa...

Scholarship committees look at all sorts of factors when awarding scholarships.  Grades are an important consideration but so are other factors.  Activities, both in and out of school, are important.  Focus on the quality of the activities not the quantity.  Find a few you enjoy and get involved.  Try for a leadership position.  Many scholarships also consider service to school and community important.  Again, find a service project you enjoy and stay committed.  Essays can also be an important consideration for scholarships.  Make sure you answer the question.  Have an English teacher look it over and offer suggestions.  Always start your search early.

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