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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Presented by: Nohemy Ornelas
Cuesta College Financial Aid Office
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:
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 mistakeSearching For Scholarships:
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.comSearching For Scholarships:
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:
Good People to ask:
Teachers and professors
Director of community service activity where you volunteered
Bad People to ask:
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:
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:
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 QuantitySearching For Scholarships:
Automatically disqualify regardless of excuse
You won’t get an extension
Deadline is based on:
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 applicationsGetting Organized:
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:
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)
Annual community serviceGetting Organized:
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 experiencesEssays:
Support your statements
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…)
The truth always comes out
Sponsors are good at detecting exaggerationEssays:
Helps settle nerves
Opportunity to get comfortable with answers and talking about yourself
Remember-It’s a conversation not a confrontation
Dress for Success
Suit and tie for men, professional dress, pantsuit or skirt and blouse for women
If professional attire isn’t available, dress conservativelyInterview:
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 reasonScholarship Scams:
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:
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
Sponsors have more applicants than money to award—they don’t need to solicit applicants
Sponsors will only contact you in response to your inquiryScholarship Scams:
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:
www.blackexcel.org – resource primarily African-American families and first-generation college
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:
Thank you for attending!Questions?Scholarship Information adapted from EdAmerica presentation, reused with permission courtesy of Luke Downer of EdAmerica