Tag Archive | Scholarships

Scholarship help from a student who’s got the blues!

Scholarship Help

I have a student in Louisiana , planning to go to LSU for Biological Engineering. He has a 4.55 GPA and is as sharp as a tack. He has applied himself, pushed himself and now, he is ready to go to college; he will be the first in his immediate family to graduate from college. His dad works long hours to support a family of 6, and he has done that for nearly 20 years. Tonight he sounded despondent, I asked why he was so discouraged, he said that he was so disappointed about scholarships. This young man’s future may hinge on the ability to get scholarships because his dad makes just over $80k per year. This salary was just enough to make it through the years, put a roof over his kids head, and now his son has a chance at graduating from college, and it may be just out of reach.

I want to offer just a few pieces of advice from ScholarshipHelp.org

  • You must to be able to organize and prioritize
  • You must be able to write about a variety of topics that may or may not be exciting to you in a fluid and thoughtful way, demonstrating that you are a scholar or would like to be a scholar.This may be the most difficult part about becoming a successful scholarship winner. However, we know that with some help, you can do it.
  • You must understand yourself well enough to create a compelling portrait of who you are. You must understand your audience well enough to be able to position your skills and strengths as deserving of their support.

Knowing yourself takes more work than writing down a list of extracurricular activities. But it can start there! You might find that with some help, and some of your own introspection, you will be able to find and apply for some of the best scholarships out there, and get them!

A few more tips from CollegeLifePlanning.com are:

  • Start with local searches: Foundations are often looking for worthy candidates for scholarships int heir own backyard, you may find some great scholarship help from businesses and organizations in your area- start there!
  • When you are doing a Google (or Bing) search, get specific. If you type in the word, “Scholarships” you get “About 61,400,000 results [in] (0.11 seconds) “. If you some specifying words like, “lsu scholarships for biological engineering” you’ll find “About 18,700 results [in] (0.09 seconds)” This will help narrow your search significantly. You can clarify further by putting [“”] around specific text. For example, “scholarships for Louisiana students” will find you “About 3,990 results [in] (0.20 seconds)” At the end of this, you might actually apply for all 3,990 of those!
  • Don’t give up!
  • Find similar scholarship contests in similar areas and write essays that can be “grouped”. This doesn’t mean turning in the same essay for each one, but you can write “themed” essays that can be slightly modified for specific scholarship contests (or projects) and submit them for multiple scholarship opportunities.
  • Have someone else read through your scholarships! Finding grammatical errors can be an instant turn off, and I am the WORST at this. I am a horrible speller, and I don’t slow down to check my work either- having someone else to read over and check for errors could be a huge asset for you!

These are just a few tips that you can learn from, and hopefully it will EARN YOU MONEY FOR COLLEGE! Let me know if I can do anything to help you in your quest to be debt free and pursuing your college dreams!

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Tips to get more Scholarship Money:

The FAFSA is the primary document students and parents will fill out to receive federal financial aid. There are several types of federal aid that comes through the FAFSA:

  • Direct Loans (Subsidized/Unsubsidized)
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunities Grant (FSEOG)
  • PELL Grant
  • TEACH Grant (for Teachers Education)
  • Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)
  • The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART)
  • Institutional Grants

On top of these funds, there is also Campus based aid available:

  • Work Study
  • Perkins Loans

After this, there isn’t much else. So what happens when the Award Letter (this is from the school and explains how much aid students are awarded) doesn’t match the cost of going to the school? SCHOLARSHIPS!

The key to earning scholarships is 3 fold. This is of course speculation and opinion. While I wish I could say this is a sure-fire way to do it and I promise you’ll get more scholarship alas, I cannot. There are however some tips I can give you  to help make yourself more appealing.

  1. GRADES: This may seem simple to you, but grades are very important! Most scholarships include a “need” based caveat, but you often can’t apply without having a GPA above a 3.0. Study hard and keep your GPA up. This helps on a number of different levels: (1) It helps build self discipline, (2) It will help get you into college (or a better college) and (3) it will help make you attract more scholarship opportunities.
  2. Quantity: Our whole lives we have been taught “Quality over Quantity”. In this case, we need both! One author suggested applying for at least one scholarship every day for at least 6 months. That is 182 scholarships minimum! That may seem like a lot, but I can show you how to do it.
  3. Quality: This is more than just having correct grammar and sentence structure. While that is important, what you write about is also important. Most of the time scholarship judges are also professional essay readers, and they may read a thousand essays just to pick 1 out of 5000 applicants (quantity is important!) Writing about things you are passionate about, writing in a colorful manner, and creating content that speaks loudly are just a few ideas for writing essays that stick out. I can also help create high quality essays for scholarships.
  4. Activity: Stay active in the community. Get involved in politics, helping the homeless, or some other social service that appeals to you. You’ll find yourself growing in ways you never thought possible, and you’ll become passionate about things you never knew you were passionate about. This will come out in your writing and help you develop some life goals and direction.

I can help if you are looking for scholarships. Feel free to contact me!
http://www.collegelifeplanning.com

Nathan Cornett
619-823-5974
nathan@collegelifeplanning.com

Which College Scholarships Are Easy to Get? We Have the Data

by Rachael Holtz on February 23, 2010

Wacky, interesting, unusual and strange — those words can describe some “easy” college scholarships that are available today. But, while those scholarships might be described as the easiest scholarships to enter, the time and work you might need to apply to find scholarships adds up — as do the odds against your winning any given “easy” scholarship.

Few studies have been conducted on your odds of winning a scholarship. The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), which is conducted every 3-4 years, showed that students at four-year colleges represent 71.5 percent of scholarship recipients in 2003-04 and 77.0 percent of scholarship recipients in 2007-08.

If you further restrict the data to just the students who were enrolled full-time at 4-year institutions, 12.1 percent of students, or about 1 in 8, received scholarships worth $2,223 on average in 2003-04 and 10.6 percent of students, or about 1 in 10, received scholarships worth $2,815 on average in 2007-08. Full-time students at four-year schools represented 63.2 percent of scholarship recipients in 2003-04 and 69.4 percent of scholarship recipients in 2007-08 (breakdown of this information is found at FinAid).

The information shown above means that more students are applying for scholarships, increasing the odds against any one student attaining a scholarship.

But, another study, which shows that the odds for an athletic scholarship do not depend upon participation numbers, applies more to this article…as this article shows that winning a certain scholarship depends more upon the applicant’s ability and skill levels, rather than the number of individuals in the competition.

Preparations

Scholarships provide one of the best ways to pay for your college education, as they do not need to be repaid. Easy scholarships are those that are easy to apply for, easy to understand and take little time for application. But, you must know yourself and you often need information at your fingertips for applications. You can pull together the following information and keep it in a file for easy access:

  • Transcript
  • Standardized test scores
  • Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA or PROFILE
  • Parent’s financial information, including tax returns
  • One or more letters of recommendation
  • Proof of eligibility (e.g. membership credentials)
  • Medical records for student and parents
  • Military records for student and parents
  • Job and career proof for student and parents

Next, make a file for each scholarship and contest that you enter, noting the entry deadline and end of contest dates. You can do this easily online at Evernote.com.

When you apply for a scholarship or contest for college funds, be sure to read instructions carefully and follow those instructions to the letter. Make copies of everything you do and don’t leave any items blank. Proofread your entry before you hit the “send” button or before you seal it up to send it off in the regular mail. Finally, get all your applications in early and often (some scholarship funds are offered monthly, and you must reapply each month to be in the running). Make a calendar to note these dates so you don’t forget to enter again.

Your preparation and organization can increase the odds that you might win, especially when competing against people who are not organized.

But, the odds of winning scholarship funds when you enter depends upon the number of people who enter a contest in competition with you. If, for instance, you decide to enter an essay contest where hundreds of students enter and no one in your area has ever made the top ten spot since 1947, then the odds may be against you. But, if you never enter the essay contest at all, the odds are 100 percent against you.

Determine Your Categories and Your Odds

Scholarships basically are divided into four categories: contests and sweepstakes, money provided to special groups, money provided for talents and skills and money based upon activities. These categories are covered below, along with the odds of success for each category. The links included in each category lead either to lists of scholarships or specific scholarships that provide an example of what you can find through Web searches.

Contests, Lotteries and Sweepstakes

Contests are easy, some contests are fun to enter, and most are geared to students with less than stellar grade point averages. Some contests might require essays, but the topics usually are preselected. Some contests require an entry form, nothing more.

But, contests and sweepstakes that depend solely upon registration and nothing else are just like lotteries — and the odds are about the same. Single state lotteries usually have odds of about 18 million to 1 while multiple state lotteries have odds as high as 120 million to 1. But, like any other contest, you cannot win if you do not enter, and — unlike the lottery — the only cost to you for these scholarships is your time.

Therefore, use your time wisely by using scholarship search sites that list contests and update them regularly. Some of these sites include:

  • Scholarship Hunter: This page contains updated information on contests designed specifically for college students. One contest, for instance, offers $1,000 in a monthly giveaway and up to one year of free tuition with a simple registration.
  • Scholarship Lotteries: The odds of winning a free scholarship from these lotteries usually is less than 1 in 10,000 (if well-publicized). Note that FinAid, the author of this information, also states that the odds of winning a scholarship are closer to 1 in 15 if based upon academic, artistic or athletic talents.

Your Characteristics

Are of you Native American or European ancestry? What is your religious preference? Are you legally blind, or over six feet tall or female? All these characteristics provide opportunities to find scholarship money, and the odds against thousands of entries is high. Here are some resources to learn more about these scholarships:

  • FinAid Student Profile-Based Aid: This list includes scholarships for international, Canadian, female, older, Jewish and gay students as well as students with disabilities.
  • Native American Scholarships: This list offers many scholarships offered to Native Americans. If you are Native American, most often your tribal leaders may have more information available for you.
  • Religious Scholarships: These scholarships are very specific and cover a variety of sects and religions. Be sure to check with your local church or regional or nationwide office for further information.
  • Scholarships by Ethnic Background: Fastweb offers ethnic-based scholarships that range from African to Vietnamese.

Use your search engine to find more scholarships in all categories listed here. Just use keywords that describe you (one at a time) + scholarship to find results. For example, the keyphrase search, “deaf scholarship” provides links to sites such as Scholarships for the Deaf.

Your Talents, Knowledge and Skills

Are you a skilled writer? Are you an award-winning actor, athlete or artist? Do you have a stellar grade point average? These skills, your efforts, knowledge and talents can land you a scholarship with odds in your favor. Once again, a Web search can yield many more results than shown here.

  • Fastweb: Although you might find a few scholarships geared toward characteristics and activities here, most scholarships are geared toward your talents and knowledge (essays, etc.) and skills (art, etc.) This site also lists contests, but — for the most part — they are skill-based contests. Note that, on the page linked here, Fastweb makes the claim that one in eight applicants win scholarships through their site. See the link immediately below for confirmation of this information.
  • FinAid Scholarship Searches: Use this page at FinAid to learn more about other scholarship search engines that focus on skills, talents and knowledge. But, you might want to check the FinAid scholarship database quality information to learn more about the best scholarship search engines. Use the top-rated engines first and often.
  • Talent Scholarships: This link provides an example of what some colleges may offer to incoming or current students. This shows that your choice of college may influence your ability to earn a scholarship.

Your Activities

Have you been involved in student organizations, community outreach or politics? Do you or your parents belong to a specific club or organizations? You can find many scholarships based upon affirmative action, which targets funds to minorities and low-income families as well in this category.

  • Ambassadorial Scholarships: No membership is required in Rotary International, but you are required to attend at least one orientation if it is offered in your region. This site provides just one of hundreds of examples of scholarships offered by organizations for local or regional students.
  • FinAid Scholarships for Average Students: We’re not sure that “average” students might want to apply for these great scholarships, which focus on community activities, entrepreneurship and creativity.
  • National Black Police Association Scholarship [PDF]: This scholarship’s guidelines may not fit you, but that means that you inability to apply narrows the odds for those who do fit the guidelines. This is just one example of a number of associations that offer scholarships that are “easy” to obtain if you fit the specifications.

Conclusion

Although some scholarship opportunities may seem easy, the odds against you winning many “easy” scholarships may be against you. Therefore, work smart, consider the odds and find scholarships that fit your personality, goals, talents, abilities and your family and health history to lower those odds.

The following resources contain more tips to follow to put the odds of winning in your favor — making your search for a scholarship truly easy:

  • Eight Steps to Winning a Scholarship: Offered by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administration.
  • Less Competitive Scholarships: FinAid provides tips on how to make scholarship competitions less competitive. With the odds averaging about one in eight for an average four-year college scholarship, FinAid suggests you find scholarships that are less competitive — because fewer students qualify for them. They show you where to find them.
  • Upping Your Odds of Winning: An excellent article provided by U.S. News & World Report. Pay special attention to the “Zig where you expect your competition will zag” option on writing essays. This is a hint on how to strengthen essay-writing skills.

10 Ways to Land more Financial Aid

By Erin Peterson, Bankrate.com

When most high school students start looking at colleges, they think about what the college offers in terms of academics and extracurriculars. But when the financial aid packages from schools come in the mail this spring, the final decision will likely be made with dollars and cents in mind.

“A good financial aid package is as important as the major, course of study and geographic location,” says Bob Friedman, the university director of student finance at Yeshiva University in New York. “It comes at the end of the search, and it’s absolutely a top concern.”

Though financial aid officers have some latitude in how much they can offer students, don’t expect that securing a better aid package will be as easy as snaring a deal on a vacation or flat-screen TV, says Marty Carney, DeLand, Fla.-based Stetson University’s director of financial aid.

“Don’t come in with the expectation that financial aid offices are in the business of negotiating like used-car salesmen,” he says. “In many cases, schools don’t negotiate financial aid awards.”

That said, it never hurts to ask. To get the best possible aid package from your dream school, follow these tips.

1. Make colleges compete. If you’re a fantastic student and have plenty of offers, you may have a better shot of getting an improved financial aid package at your top school, Carney says.

“Some schools have a policy to match other school’s financial aid award offers,” he says.

In a letter, explain why you consider this school to be your first choice, and that you’d come “if the school could make it financially feasible for you,” Carney says. Include the competing institution’s financial aid offer.

2. Ask for a reassessment. FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the document that determines a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid, and in many cases, the additional awards offered by schools themselves. Financial aid for students is calculated from “base year” data. For example, for the 2009-2010 academic year, the base year is the 2008 calendar year.

Financial aid is calculated with the assumption that the income and assets will remain stable, but in this economy, that’s often not the case. If your family’s financial circumstances have changed, it’s wise to ask for a reassessment, Yeshiva’s Friedman says.

“If somebody lost a job, or if your assets are worth 75 percent what they were worth before, (financial aid officers) need to know that,” he says. “If you can document it, these are things that a school can take into consideration.”

Other changes that may have an effect on financial aid include the death of a parent, divorce and high medical expenses.

3. Explain money issues outside of FAFSA. FAFSA puts students and parents under the financial aid microscope to determine how much they can truly pay for college. Still, the endless forms don’t capture every detail or always represent the true picture of a family’s finances, says Marc Hill, a financial planner and founder of ReduceMyCollegeCosts.com.

“Maybe the parents have a grandparent that they’re supporting in some fashion, such as a nursing home,” he says. “That’s not captured on the FAFSA. But if you can document that to the financial aid officer, (she) may be able to change the numbers to better reflect your ability to pay.”

Because financial aid officers have some latitude to account for special circumstances, you may net additional aid based on the nuances of your situation.

Find this and more at: http://www.thirdage.com/college-planning/10-ways-to-land-more-financial-aid

Search for Scholarships

“Think of any major, specialty or talent and chances are there’s a scholarship program intended for it. High school seniors, returning college students and their parents should consider this route as a source for financial aid – especially if their college will be minimizing its financial aid offers.

Most deadlines range between October and March. Stick to free scholarship search engines, such as Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search and FastWeb.com. And reach out to your local community and clubs you’re involved in.

However, should a student’s total financial aid exceed his financial need by more than $300, certain types of federal financial aid, like the Perkins loan and the SEOG grant, could be reduced, says Mark Kantrowitz, founder of FinAid.org, which tracks tuition and financial aid changes, and publisher of FastWeb.com. Make sure that you’re using scholarships to replace federal loans and you’re not losing out on free money that you don’t have to repay – like grants.”

Read More: http://www.smartmoney.com/personal-finance/college-planning/the-financial-aid-squeeze-is-getting-worse/

Essay Writing Tips

For many students, writing their college essay is one of the most challenging parts of applying to college. Here are some tips to help you get started with your college essays.

Think of your essay as your chance to have a personal conversation with the admissions committee. Use it to convey information that does not appear elsewhere in your application and remember that the primary purpose of your essay is to give them a reason to take you.

Your essay should reflect who you are: your personality, your goals, your passion for learning, and your level of maturity. Focus your essay on a specific event which has had a major impact on your life, rather than trying to provide a broad rehash of all of your accomplishments. Admissions officers want your essay to “resonate,” so that who you are comes across consistently in the various parts of your application. They want your essay to be thoughtful, persuasive, and tie into your academic and extracurricular passions.

Writing your college essays will probably be unlike anything else you’ve written! Nearly everything assigned in your English classes is geared to keeping the author out of the writing, while the focus on your college essays is totally YOU, putting across some of your core values, personality traits, important experiences, etc. It’s a sea change, but when you “get it,” you’ll be able to take off and write those essays!

When writing a college essay, it’s the execution, not the topic, that matters. There are some topics best avoided: death of a pet or the tour of Mongolia are two, but keep the following in mind: Write about what interests you; forget about what might or might not interest the reader. Trust that your enthusiasm will be reflected on the page. Engage and entertain your audience – make him or her want more. Know your topic thoroughly. If it has to do with cars, for instance, know the difference between the transmission, alternator, and manifold. Keep it loose and relaxed, and always entertaining.

If you can say something that will make the reader say, “Me too!” as he finishes reading your essay, you have succeeded. Don’t fear your audience. The reader of your essays is probably not some crusty old gatekeeper looking for a reason to deny your application, but a fairly recent college graduate who is looking for a lively, interesting essay written by a person they would like to invite to attend their college. Be your lively, interesting self!

One method to find essay inspiration is to create a list of little known facts, facts only you would know. Brainstorm a list of your favorites; your likes and dislikes; unusual events you have experienced; issues, images, or stories that affect your mood; etc. Review your list and see if you can weave your insider information into a portrait of who you are. Or find one fact/event you can build on to reveal a new aspect of yourself. Remember to keep the essay positive and do not repeat information given in your application

For the next few weeks, get a small notebook you can easily carry around. Every day, act as a reporter and make free form notes on what you see, smell, feel and think about. Chances are, you’ll find at least one good essay idea in your notes!

When brainstorming topics for personal statements, look for the unexpected, something that someone who knows you would be surprised to learn about you. Use the first paragraph to describe a moment, creating through words a visual that draws the reader in. The following paragraphs can roll back in time and explain that image, the photographic moment. Try to write an essay that is multidimensional in what it reveals about you. When all of the above can be woven together, it’s usually a home run for the student – something they are proud of, a story that’s a blueprint for who they are now and how they will live their life.

You may have your essay completely figured out in your head—or an idea or even (gulp) nothing at all. But you just can’t get started. That’s because the part of your brain that’s saying, “I hate essays! I need a perfect first line! My idea is stupid!” is working overtime. Try this trick: If you usually write on screen, switch to pen and paper. If you use a notebook, switch to your computer. Write your name or “no clue what to write” or whatever comes to mind, over and over. Before you know it, you’ll be writing that essay!

Still haven’t hit your theme? Here’s the question I ask my stumped students: If I took everything away from you, everything – stuff, family, personality traits, your dog – what ONE thing would you never allow me to rip from your life? Why? Happy writing!

Nothing screams, “I wrote my essay the night before!” to an admissions committee more than glaring typos and grammar mistakes. But if you’ve rewritten and read through your essay a zillion times on screen, your eyes may trick you. For better focus, try this tip from professional editors: Print out your essay and read it backward, placing the eraser tip of a pencil under each word. Then read through your work from the beginning for sense and style. Finally, ask someone you trust—a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend– to proof your essay, too. Now you’re ready to hit “Send”!