Remember your senior year of high school? It seemed like there was a ton of scholarship opportunities everywhere you turned. Schools practically showered you with grants and scholarships, hoping you would choose them. But now that you have a year or two of college under your belt, some of those scholarships have expired or may have even renewed at a lower amount. If you were lucky enough to maintain the same funding level, the increase in tuition rates and other fees may still have left you with a gap in financial aid. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Many undergraduate students neglect to think long-term when it comes to their financial aid plan. The good news is that there are plenty of undergraduate scholarships available. You just need to know where to find them.
Visit your school’s financial aid office.
If you have a current scholarship through your school, and your cost of attendance has increased significantly from the previous year, request an increase in your scholarship amount. It never hurts to ask, especially if you have maintained high academic standards. The worse that can happen is that they say “no.” If your previous scholarship has expired, ask if you can reapply for the award. Some programs renew automatically, but others require you to complete the application process again. Next, ask about other available scholarships or grants that you may be eligible to receive, but be sure to do a little research first. Visit your college's financial aid website and review the list of scholarships. You’re more likely to get assistance from the staff if you have done some of the work yourself. Don’t forget to check other colleges' financial aid websites, too. You’ll want to explore their outside scholarship pages for potential programs that may benefit you.
Check out your college’s webpage.
Most colleges are comprised of separate smaller schools, such as the School of Business or the College of Arts and Sciences. Be sure to visit the webpage for your specific area, as there may be scholarships posted. Many local companies provide awards to help target future employees, but there may be state competitions and national scholarships, as well. It’s also a good idea to ask your professors and the dean of your program, as they may know of additional opportunities.
Research companies within your chosen career path.
Although local businesses may post scholarships to your college’s financial aid boards and websites, there are also many scholarships available through large corporations and international companies. You might be able to secure a job with one of several companies that offer tuition assistance as part of your employee package, or find a paid internship that will not only help pay for your college expenses, but also give you some much needed experience. Large companies, such as Tylenol and Chevron, also provide numerous scholarships to students pursuing careers within their markets.
Consider joining a club or a professional organization.
Did you know that many honor societies provide scholarships to their members? So do professional clubs and organizations. If you host a Magic: The Gathering Club, or are part of the debate team, there are scholarships available. You can also get scholarships for holding a position in student government, joining a language club, or even participating in an athletic league. Check out what’s available on your campus and get involved. It could lead to more financial aid!
Use a free scholarship search service.
You may have registered for an account (or several) while you were in high school but never went back after you started college. Do yourself a favor and log back into your accounts and update your information. You may be surprised by how many scholarships are waiting for you. If you’ve never registered for an account, try ScholarshipExperts.com, or check out this review to see which ones are the best to use.
It’s important to remember that scholarship hunting is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done deal. You should be carving out time every month to search and apply for programs to ensure you have other financial aid available when your current funds run dry.
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