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Navigating Your Scholarship Search Presented by: Nohemy Ornelas Cuesta College Financial Aid Office Where to look Searching for Scholarships Getting Organized Essays Scholarship Scams Information covered: Free Online Scholarship Searches Local Public Library

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Navigating Your Scholarship Search


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navigating your scholarship search
Navigating Your Scholarship Search

Presented by: Nohemy Ornelas

Cuesta College Financial Aid Office

information covered
Where to look

Searching for Scholarships

Getting Organized

Essays

Scholarship Scams

Information covered:
where to look
Free Online Scholarship Searches

Local Public Library

College’s Financial Aid Office

Often have their own need and non-need –based scholarships and grants

High School Counselor

Community Organizations

Kiwanis, Rotary Club

Where to look?
searching for scholarships
Start Searching Now!

Early deadlines can be as soon as January or February

Cuesta Scholarship deadline: March 2, 2011

Other Schools/Organizations have later or even sooner deadlines.

Apply to as Many as Possible!

The money adds up

Looks good on your scholarship resume

Smaller Scholarships may have fewer applicants-better chance for you!

Searching For Scholarships:
searching for scholarships5
Do not apply for the scholarship if you do not meet all the criteria!

This is a big waste of time—Donors usually receive more qualified applications than they have money to award.

When you DO meet the criteria, don’t forget to list it!

Forgetting to write about what make you a qualified candidate is a very common mistake

Searching For Scholarships:
searching for scholarships6
Online Scholarship Searches-

Check how often the web site is updated (annually, quarterly?)

Be aware of Scams! If it costs money, it’s usually a scam.

Only list criteria that relates to your goals/major/field of study

Listing “horseback riding” as a hobby might result in receiving offers of scholarships to equestrian schools instead of your true major.

Most Financial Aid Office’s have links to trusted sites directly from their web sites.

Fastweb ● Finaid.org ● Petersons.com

Searching For Scholarships:
searching for scholarships7
Seek good letters of recommendation

Use current references!

Donors will look at the dates of your recommendation letters. Any recommendation over 1 year old is usually too old.

Pick people who:

Can write about you well

Relevant to the sponsor’s goals—Science sponsor = Science teacher

Have known you for a long time (ex. Teachers you took more than 1 class from)

Searching For Scholarships:
searching for scholarships8
Seek good letters of recommendation

Good People to ask:

Teachers and professors

Employer

Coach

Director of community service activity where you volunteered

Bad People to ask:

Family members

Defeats the purpose of the letter. Donors are looking for third-party documentation-validation of accomplishments and background.

Teachers who have just met you during the current semester

Almost never give strong recommendation and usually indicate lack of knowledge of your accomplishments and/or abilities to succeed.

Searching For Scholarships:
searching for scholarships9
Things to provide recommendation writer:

Stamped and addressed envelopes for required forms

Summary of purpose of award

Copy of your draft scholarship application

Plenty of time—four weeks before deadline

After letter has been sent:

Do not ask to see a copy-Sponsors may question candidness

Write a thank you letter-you never know if you may need another letter.

Searching For Scholarships:
searching for scholarships10
Accomplishment Resume

Summary that lists your accomplishments-Academic and Extracurricular

Good references when completing application

Good to have for writer of letter of recommendation

Document your achievements

Hobbies and extracurricular activities count

Provides opportunity to be eligible for a wider variety of scholarships

Depth of involvement will distinguish you

When stating your activities: Quality is better than Quantity

Searching For Scholarships:
getting organized
Less likely to miss:

Deadlines

Asking for recommendations

Create folders for each application

Attach checklist listing:

Required materials (transcripts, current class schedule, how many references?)

Deadlines

Date you sent application

Getting Organized:
getting organized12
Keep photocopies of application

In case you need to resend

Reuse information for other applications

Application with multiple pages

Label each page with:

Name

Phone number

Getting Organized:
getting organized13
Don’t miss deadlines!

Automatically disqualify regardless of excuse

You won’t get an extension

Deadline is based on:

Date received

Post marked date

Mail application at least a week before deadline

Keep photocopies of application

In case you need to resubmit the application

Reuse for other scholarship applications

Getting Organized:
getting organized14
Don’t skip questions

If a question does not apply, write “not applicable,” do not leave blank

Application with multiple pages

Label each page with your name and the page number

Was your application received?

Include a self-addressed stamped postcard with your application, or

Send application by certified mail, or

Send application with return receipt requested.

Getting Organized:
getting organized15
Don’t forget to renew your scholarship

Satisfy annual requirements to keep scholarships

Maintain satisfactory academic progress

Keep required GPA

Remain in declared major

Go to school full-time (if required—some scholarships require only ½ time attendance)

Provide transcripts

Annual community service

Getting Organized:
essays
Read the directions!

Helps to clarify intent of question

Not following instructions will leave a negative impression

Write an interesting essay

Goal is to be interesting and attract attention

Write about something you find interesting

Sponsors read a lot of essays

Try to incorporate your experiences

Essays:
essays17
Give Concrete Examples

Support your statements

Use specifics

Vague statements or unexplained references to events, conditions or circumstances (i.e. “I had problems and couldn’t find a job.”) creates a negative impression.

Use action words (Organized, dedicated, determined…)

Don’t Exaggerate

The truth always comes out

Sponsors are good at detecting exaggeration

Essays:
essays18
Proofread your application

Spelling counts and will impact the outcome

Make sure you review

Ask a teacher or parent

A second set of eyes can always help

Always type your application

Neatness counts

Unless specifically stated otherwise

Essays:
interview
Be decisive

Sponsors want to support students who will graduate with a specific degree

Be concise in your response

Be positive

Be polite

Expect the unexpected

Unusual questions are intended to see how you react.

Have questions

It is always important to ask a few questions

Interview:
interview20
Practice

Helps settle nerves

Opportunity to get comfortable with answers and talking about yourself

Remember-It’s a conversation not a confrontation

Be Punctual

Dress for Success

Suit and tie for men, professional dress, pantsuit or skirt and blouse for women

If professional attire isn’t available, dress conservatively

Interview:
scholarship scams
Every year thousands of students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. How can you identify scams?

Key rules:

If you have to pay money to get money it is probably a scam

If it sounds too good to be true, it is

Spend the time not the money

Never invest more than a postage stamp to get information nobody can guarantee

Legitimate scholarship foundations do not charge application fees

If you are suspicious, there is usually a good reason

Scholarship Scams:
scholarship scams22
You shouldn’t have to pay to get information about a scholarship

No legitimate scholarship sponsor will guarantee an award

Awarding is a selection process requiring review of application

“Everybody is eligible:”

Sponsors are looking to match specific criteria

Some set of restrictions always applies

“We apply on your behalf:”

Only you can complete your application

There is no way to avoid the work

Overstated claims of effectiveness are a good scam tip-off. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Scholarship Scams:
scholarship scams23
No telephone number

Sponsors will include a telephone number for inquires

Masquerading as a federal agency

Official sounding names don’t always mean they are official.

If you are unsure, check with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau

Unsolicited opportunities

Sponsors have more applicants than money to award—they don’t need to solicit applicants

Sponsors will only contact you in response to your inquiry

Scholarship Scams:
scholarship scams24
Time pressure

Deadlines are set and clear. The only reason you should have time pressure is if you have not submitted your application and the deadline is near.

Notification by phone

If you have won a scholarship, you will receive written notification.

A sponsor may contact you by phone only if the initial notification was returned to them by the Post Office. Usually to request updated mailing address.

The Scholarship Prize

You have won a scholarship, but requires you to pay a “disbursement” or “redemption” fee. If you didn’t enter, you didn’t win.

Scholarship Scams:
useful websites for your scholarship search
www.armedforcescareers.com – Information on pursuing a career in the US Armed Forces.

www.blackexcel.org – resource primarily African-American families and first-generation college

students.

www.careerprep.com – Summary of news and employment trends.

www.collegeedge.com – Helps students to select majors, careers, colleges and scholarships.

www.collegenet.com – Offers college search, financial aid assistance, scholarship search, and on-line college applications.

www.collegereview.com – Resource of 3500 + colleges with multimedia tours and financial aid information.

www.edupass.org – Financial Aid information for foreign students.

www.fastweb.com – Free scholarship search service.

www.finaid.org – Tips, questions, and information regarding financial aid.

www.mapping-your-future.org – College and career planning information.

www.petersons.com – Information on SAT, scholarships, college selection.

www.princetonreview – A variety of college information.

www.scholaraid.com – Free scholarship service.

www.schoolfinder.com – Offers assistance on identifying interests, colleges, and scholarships.

www.srnexpress.com – Advanced scholarship search with many private scholarships not available on other sites.

www.usnews.com – Guide to the best college bets for the money, application checklist, and financial assistance.

www.wiredscholar.com – Scholarship search and financial aid information.

www.edamerica.org – Free scholarship search found in website.

Useful websites for your scholarship search:
slide26

Thank you for attending!Questions?Scholarship Information adapted from EdAmerica presentation, reused with permission courtesy of Luke Downer of EdAmerica