Tag: applying for scholarships

Happy Presidents’ Day! Since most of you probably have the day off, now is a good time to start searching for scholarships!  Here are some tips to help you with your search:

  1. Don’t wait until your senior year of high school to start searching for scholarships. It is a time- consuming process that requires research. Search for scholarships from your community and state, the school you’re interested in, and any religious organizations or other groups that you may be involved in.
  2. Don’t just apply for higher paying scholarships – a bunch of smaller scholarships can really add up! Apply to any and all scholarships that you are eligible for.presidents' day scholarship tips
  3. Market yourself in your applications and essays. Positively showcase yourself and your life experiences. Scholarship sponsors are looking for well-rounded individuals involved in their community, sports, or extracurricular activities.
  4. Thoroughly answer the essay question that was asked. Don’t write about unrelated topics.
  5. Proofread your scholarship applications and essays thoroughly.  You don’t want some grammar errors or typos to mess up your chances at a scholarship.
  6. Send in all requested materials. Some scholarships want letters of recommendation, others want essays, and some will require both.
  7. Make copies of all your paperwork – essays, transcripts, and applications. It will help you keep track of the scholarships you already applied to, and in case you need to reference or resend anything, you will have it readily available.
  8. It may be helpful to create a spreadsheet with sections for the name of the scholarship, the deadline, requirements, contact information, and important links to organize your progress.
  9. Don’t miss the deadline! Send things out early, since they may take longer than you expect to arrive at their destinations.
  10. Send your application by registered or certified mail. You will have a receipt and be able to track its progress so you know when it has arrived.

Remember to start your scholarship search early – scholarships help pay for your education, so apply to as many as you can!

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After a year of daunting news about student loan debt and broken state financial aid budgets, EducationGrant.com is happy to share this positive assessment of Santa Claus’s readiness for his big night, from his personal physician at University of North Carolina School of Medicine:

Although a bit conservative (they would like him to lose weight), the rest of Santa’s UNC medical team nevertheless appears optimistic about his continued employment. (Santa’s endocrinologist needs a little gender sensitivity training, however.)

For students in need of financial aid to attend college, North Carolina has a substantial collection of scholarship programs and sources. The Carolina Covenant program, for example, provides a debt-free education to qualified low-income students.

UNC Chapel Hill was the nation’s first state university (1795) and the only public university to award degrees in the 18th century. If you are or plan to be a UNC student, check the university’s Office of Scholarships and Student Aid for instructions on how to get started. The UNC Office of Adult Services and Evening Services has scholarship resources for single moms and other nontraditional students, and for North Carolina residents, the College Foundation of North Carolina has a long list of providers of both need-based and merit-based scholarships.

And check back here next week for information on the 2010 FAFSA. January 1, 2010 is the first day you can start filling out a FAFSA for a college program that starts after June 30th. The first step: applying for a FAFSA PIN (Personal Identification Number) and filling out a FAFSA practice worksheet to familiarize yourself with the official form.

Until then, EducationGrant wishes all its readers, and college students everywhere, safe and happy holidays!

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Single Mom Scholarships

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Even with just a quick look at the news it’s easy to see that college classes are filling up with record numbers of students this fall, and single moms are among them. Both campus and online colleges from coast to coast are bursting with enrollment, despite an increased need for financial aid.

Fortunately, the large number of older, “non-traditional” college students is beginning to get more attention these days, and student aid providers are creating more financial aid opportunities tailored to students in special circumstances. Single mom scholarships fall into this category of financial aid.

Before applying for scholarships, however, be sure to thoroughly read our section on scholarships for moms scams. Unfortunately, the business of scholarships is peppered with a couple organizations who use deceit and false promises to take money from vulnerable or unsuspecting moms.

leisure activitySingle Mom Scholarships Start with Federal Education Grants

If you’re a single mom returning to school to pursue your first college degree or career certification, and you’re within a certain income range, you’ll almost certainly qualify for need-based federal education grants such as the Pell Grant. Grants, unlike student loans, do not need to be repaid, and they’re not age-restricted. The money you’ll qualify for will depend on what year you’re in in your program and how many dependents you’re supporting, along with meeting other basic eligibility requirements.

There are federal education grants for single mothers also. To apply for these grants, you must go to the federal Student Aid on the Web site and file a FAFSA:

  • Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Academic Competitive Grant (ACG)
  • National SMART Grant
  • TEACH Grant

State Financial Aid Agencies Also Offer Single Mom Scholarships

Most, if not all, states also offer scholarships reserved for women and single parents. Different states have financial aid programs customized with their own eligibility requirements, grant amounts, and application procedures. Find your state higher education agency at this site and see what single mom scholarship programs they offer.

Keep in mind that single mom scholarships (and single dad scholarships) are going to be need-based. All scholarships of this type will ask for proof of financial need and may also ask for proof of your being the custodial parent. Many will require you to file a FAFSA (see above).

In many cases, state single mom scholarships will actually be offered through a college or university system in the state. In addition to contacting your state higher education agency, you should contact the financial aid office of the school you want to enroll in and ask if the school offers single mom scholarships or grants.

A few examples of state and school financial aid programs for single parents include:

Single Mom Scholarships from Private Foundations & Organizations

A wide range of philanthropic and corporate foundations provide scholarships for single parents. Like the state and school scholarships above, these programs may be getting ready to open their new application season. Check their websites to see when their 2010-2011 scholarship applications will be available:

Single Mom Scholarships are a Win-Win Investment

Officials from the federal level all the way down to your town council know that helping you get valuable higher education now is a way of “paying it forward”: If your college degree or career training helps you ensure financial stability and a better life for you and your family, everyone benefits – your community, our larger society, and you.

Still not sure how to get started with finding Financial Aid? Start here:

1) 4 Ideas for Single Moms Going Back to School offers a basic back-to-college plan.

2) How to Prepare for the FAFSA: 3 Pre-FAFSA Steps provides a basic introduction to the Federal Application for Pell Grants and other federal financial aid.

3) The EducationGrant Guide to Grants & Scholarships has tips and information on:

  • Understanding the difference between grants and scholarships
  • How to apply for Pell Grants and other federal financial aid
  • Searching for state and private grants and scholarships appropriate for you
  • Some characteristics of successful applications for state and private grants and scholarships
  • Websites and addresses for more than 80 scholarships, so you can contact them

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The key to applying for scholarships is to be thorough, and to carefully follow each available scholarship’s instructions.

1. Confirm that you meet all the eligibility criteria of each scholarship you want to apply for. Don’t apply for a scholarship if you only “sort of” meet its requirements or meet “almost all” the criteria. You won’t be considered and you’ll only annoy the scholarship committee who may evaluate your future application at a later date, when you are eligible to apply.

2. Confirm the application deadline for each available scholarship and note the days you should have those applications in the mail. Applications that are even a day late will not be considered, so leave yourself several days ahead of each deadline for mail delays or other last-minute complications. If you have to fill out an online application in addition to mailing in supporting documents, schedule in some time to get online to do that.

3. Organize your available scholarships by deadline and make a list of all the information each application requires. Most scholarships will ask for:
Diploma and Scholarship

  • Application form (look for a downloadable PDF, or an online application, on the scholarship website)
  • Your FAFSA or
  • Documentation confirming your income and personal assets
  • Your Grade Point Average (GPA) and transcripts
  • Proof of enrollment or acceptance for admission from your school
  • Your education goal

Depending on the type of scholarship you’re applying for, you may also be asked for:

  • Nomination from the scholarship representative at your school
  • Personal or professional references (include an up-to-date phone number, email address, and mailing address for each reference). Check with your references first, before supplying their names.
  • Community or education achievements
  • Commitment to a service obligation
  • Essay

4. Get in touch with your reference writers. Give them plenty of time to write your reference letter — you will likely get a more positive reference that way.

5. Recycle your essays. If you find you’re writing more or less the same essay for each available scholarship, reuse one you’ve already written and customize it to address the specific differences of each additional scholarship.

6. Proofread your applications and essays carefully for misspellings and errors in grammar and word usage. (Watch out for easy mistakes with your and you’re; its and it’s; were and we’re; and their, there, and they’re.) If you’ve recycled an essay, make sure you’ve replaced the name of the original scholarship or sponsor everywhere it can be found.

7. Review all the pieces of your application packet. Make sure it has everything the instructions required and nothing they didn’t ask for.

8. Make copies of everything in your application packet before you mail it. (What if the original got lost in the mail?!)

9. Submit your application packets earlier than “just in time.” Just in case.

10. Follow up with each scholarship sponsor to verify that each received your application packet. Did your online application forms provide you with a confirmation email?

Many students apply for every available scholarship. Make your application stand out with efficiency, organization, neatness, and clarity.

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