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How can you maximize scholarship opportunities?

The financial aid package you receive from colleges is usually not enough to cover tuition and other costs like room and board along with books. You can reduce your college debt by applying for outside scholarships. Follow Learn More Indiana’s tips to make yourself an outstanding candidate!

Know your options

Scholarships are gift aid, money for college expenses that won’t have to be paid back. Scholarships can come from all kinds of organizations, either local, statewide or national. Nonprofit organizations, businesses, government and community foundations all award scholarships. Search for scholarships in Indiana and beyond.

Make the grade

We know that there is more to your college potential than your high school grades, but scholarship grantors almost always ask for your GPA (grade point average). Don’t jeopardize your scholarship chances by slacking off in any year of high school, and set the stage by doing well in middle school and elementary school, too.

Get involved

Scholarship grantors like to give money to people they think will be the leaders of tomorrow. Demonstrate your leadership ability by being involved in activities outside of school. Often, scholarships seek students who are involved in their communities and actively help others.

You have lots of choices: student clubs at school, volunteering at local nonprofits, raising money for a cause and more. Don’t jump from activity to activity just to boost your list of accomplishments. It’s more important that you made a difference or became a leader in one club or organization.

Make the match

Many scholarships are only for students with certain characteristics. They may seek applicants who are Native Americans, living in poverty, planning to work in the healthcare industry, female, Hispanic, first-generation college students, studying communications or one of endless other characteristics.

Make sure you apply for scholarships that match your characteristics. You may want to think about special traits and specifically search for scholarships that require those characteristics.

Practice your writing skills

Because an essay is so often part of the scholarship application, it’s important that you have strong writing skills. Expect to rewrite your drafts a few times, and always have at least one person read your essays and provide feedback. Ask them to look for spelling and grammar errors and suggest ways you can make your essay easier to read.

Be aware of scams

Whenever there’s money involved, there’s sure to be a scam. Watch out for these common scholarship scams:

  • Paying for scholarship searches. There are plenty of free, legitimate search sites.
  • Promises of at least $3,000 (or any amount) in financial aid. Almost all students are eligible for at least $3,000 of federal loans, which count as financial aid even though they have to be repaid later.
  • Giving out your bank information. Watch out for “standard processing fee” or other language indicating that they will charge you to deposit a so-called scholarship, especially if you didn’t have to do any work to earn the money.

Apply, apply, apply

The only way you are going to be awarded a scholarship (other than those in your financial aid package) is if you apply! Don’t be discouraged by the amount of time it takes to compile a strong application. The investment is worth it. You can get thousands of dollars in scholarships, and you won’t have to pay it back.

Start your search with Learn More Indiana’s scholarship search resources. You should also ask your teachers, professors, advisors and counselors for additional help finding scholarships.

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