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Get Ahead by Applying for a Scholarship Over Summer Break

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Hit the books this summer to get ahead when applying for scholarships.

Hit the books this summer to get ahead when applying for scholarships.

When it came to applying for a scholarship, my son made good use of his summers. His summer job was to research and find scholarships he thought he could obtain. To help create incentive for him, I paid him ten dollars for every scholarship he found. He had a strategic plan and effectively used his summers to find and research as many scholarships as he could. He applied to institutional scholarships and scholarships from outside organizations.

This strategy paid off handsomely for him. He graduated from college debt free. The following tips will help you to jump start your scholarship search during the summer.

1. Research institutional scholarships.
The first place you should look to apply for a scholarship are the colleges your son or daughter would like to attend. Every college has a scholarship page with a listing of scholarships based on academic merit, talent, and majors. I find that this is one area where students miss out on huge offers, because the deadlines are varied and sometimes tied to the college application deadline. I have seen students get caught up in the college application process and delay researching scholarships until after they have submitted their applications. By then, they may have missed out on major tuition offers.

2. Register and complete the profiles on at least three scholarship search engines.
There are so many scholarship search engines on the web that it can be a bit overwhelming. I recommend FastWeb, and Zinch. Applying for a scholarship is a numbers game. The more you apply for, the better your chances of getting one. My son applied for over 30 scholarships on FastWeb and received over $17,000 from various organizations. It's amazing how these amounts add up. Scholarships are important because you can apply them to your loan balance to decrease your debt ratio. You should look for a minimum of $5,000, which will cover subsidized and unsubsidized loans most students receive as part of their financial aid award package.

3. Look for scholarships with due dates in August, September, and November.
You can apply for a scholarship for almost anything these days. Find those that match your credentials and are unique to you. Keep a calendar of due dates scheduled two weeks prior to the actual dates for submission. Bookmark those you feel you have a good chance of obtaining.

4. Prepare a personal/goals statement.
Why wait until the fall to do write your personal statement? Scholarship organizations want to know your goals and how you plan to achieve them. The statement can also be used as a springboard for your college essays.

5. Investigate scholarships in your community.
Don't forget to apply for scholarships in your city, town, and state. Scholarship America and the Rotary Foundation are examples of organizations that are national but have local chapters.

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