College Cash Rehash!


Did you forget to attend our Scholarship Twitter Chat on November 14 with Jodi Okun? No worries! We’ve put together some of the highlights from the evening in a quick, easy-to-digest format for you. Take a look at what you missed on #CollegeCash!

Q1: What exactly is a scholarship?

A1: Basically, scholarships are free money for college that students never have to pay back. Depending on the scholarship program, students can use the funds for a variety of things, such as tuition, housing, or even living expenses.

Q2: Who can get scholarships?

A2: Pretty much everyone! Seriously, students don’t have to be rocket scientists or star athletes to score some free college cash. In most cases, winning a scholarship takes  a bit of luck mixed with a ton of determination, but the one thing students have to do to get a scholarship is apply!

Q3: When should students apply for scholarships?

A3: Students should start no later than the freshman year of high school, but there are programs out there even for elementary students. The sooner students begin, the more opportunities they’ll have to win.

Q4: What are the do’s & don’ts for writing scholarship essays?

A4:  Students should always read the instructions first and follow the guidelines for font, word count, deadlines, etc. Never spit back the essay prompt in the first line – it’s boring! Students should try to grab the reader in the first three to five sentences and tell a story!

Q5: How can students avoid scholarship scams?

A5: Never pay for a scholarship or search service. Students shouldn’t spend money to find money. Also, don’t give out social security numbers or bank information. It’s a good idea for students to check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for any complaints, too. Make sure the provider’s contact information (email, phone, address) is easy to find. They should also list previous winners, and if they guarantee you will win a scholarship, don’t apply!

Q6: What is a “need-based” scholarship?

A6: Need-based scholarships are awards typically given to low-income students, or those who would qualify for reduced, school lunch programs or federal Pell Grants, but providers can set higher levels for maximum income than those required by the federal government. Students should always check the eligibility requirements before ruling themselves out.

Q7: How can students find local scholarships?

A7: Students should start with their guidance counselor and other area high school websites. Don’t forget to check local businesses and charitable organizations, banks, employers and local clubs, too!

Q8: Where do students look for scholarships?

A8: Using a good online search service, like, can help students narrow their focus, but students should also check social media forums, such as Twitter and Pinterest. Company websites (community pages) are another resource, as well as national organizations, such as nonprofits and fraternities. Students can also use Google or Bing to find scholarships.  

Q9: Do you have to apply for financial aid to get a scholarship?

A9: For institutional awards, students typically need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but many private scholarship providers do not require it. If it’s a need-based scholarship, they should expect to submit the FAFSA and other income-related documentation.  

Q10: What are 3 things you want to leave us with tonight?

A10: The earlier students start applying for scholarships, the more opportunities they’ll have. Students should think of scholarships as a part-time job, not a one and done deal. And most importantly, students need to have a positive attitude and believe in their ability to win!   If you don’t want to miss another night of great scholarship advice, be sure to follow @ScholarshipGuru on Twitter. We tweet new scholarships daily and answer your questions seven days a week!

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