1. Watch out for scholarship scams. Each year many students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. “The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid” provides excellent tips on how to identify and avoid scholarship scams.
2. Never pay for a scholarship search. There is never a good reason to pay for a scholarship search. The information you will need is available for free. Just remember, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”
3. Be sure to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The financial aid office will always recommend that you complete a FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov each year. Many scholarship programs also require that you complete a FAFSA to demonstrate need or to show that you are pursuing all avenues of financial assistance.
4. Search free websites for scholarships. Take advantage of the websites offering free personalized scholarship searches. See Scholarship Searches and Other Resources.
5. Look at your own resources. Check your own contacts and affiliations. Many organizations offer scholarships based on a variety of factors. Check with your high school counselor, your employer, your parents’ employer, clubs, fraternal organizations, your church, your academic department, and your financial aid office.
6. Expand your search. It is a good idea to look in multiple places for information in order to maximize your chances for scholarships. Try community organizations, local businesses, corporations, bookstores, and the Internet. Don’t forget the library. While there are scholarship guidebooks in the library, the library can also provide access to research databases and reference books that can be extremely useful in your search for scholarship opportunities.
7. Don’t be discouraged by the overwhelming amount of scholarship materials available. Identify those scholarships in which you meet the criteria and concentrate your efforts on those programs.
8. Remember to apply by the deadlines stated. Organizations usually do not extend deadlines (even if you have a good reason), so it is important to complete your application on time.
9. View the Private Scholarships PowerPoint presentation.