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Scholarships are a great resource to help you pay for college, but how do you find and earn those scholarships? Let’s look at some tips that will help you track down scholarships that you are eligible for—and submit high quality applications.

What types of scholarships are there?

You are probably already familiar with some types of scholarships (like scholarships based on academics), but there are scholarships based on all kinds of different factors. Here is a list of some of the common types of scholarships you may encounter:

  • Identity-based (based on factors such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion, orientation, etc.)
  • Your major/future career
  • Your academics (GPA, class rank, ACT scores, etc.)
  • Your college
  • Your level of financial need (often determined by information from your FAFSA)
  • Your extracurricular activities and work/volunteer history

Where should you look?

It can be difficult to know which scholarship resources are trustworthy when you’re starting out, but there are lots of places you can look! Begin the scholarship process by using these trustworthy sources:

  • Talk to your school counselor about your college plans and see if they know of any local, regional or state-based scholarships you can apply for.
  • Talk to your college financial aid office about scholarship opportunities available. Some colleges will automatically build your financial aid package based on the information in your admissions file, but some colleges require a separate scholarship application. Contact your school if you are not sure.
  • See if there are any businesses/organizations in your area that offer scholarships you can apply for. Think about the companies you or your parents work/volunteer for, clubs/organizations that you and/or your parents are involved in, and local/state businesses that are related to your future career.
  • Check out free online search sites such as ScholarshipQuest for Nebraska local and state-based scholarships, and free national search sites. It will probably be easier for you to earn local and state scholarships, but don’t ignore national awards! You never know what scholarships you can earn if you don’t apply.

How do you set yourself up for success?

Being a successful scholarship candidate involves organization and consistency. In order to maximize your scholarship potential, follow these steps:

  • Get organized: Put the scholarships that you want to apply for in deadline order, and also check applications to see what materials you need to submit. Having a full picture of what you need to do will help you create the best plan.
  • Be consistent: Now that you know when your scholarships will be due, set aside time each week to work on scholarships. Work on consistently sending out new applications, especially during the second semester of your senior year.
  • Ask for help: You will need adults to write letters of recommendation for you, but also enlist trusted adults to review your applications before you submit them. Never submit an application without having someone else proofread it first!
  • Give yourself (and others) enough time to be successful: High quality scholarship applications cannot be completed last-minute. Start working on applications at least two weeks before the deadline date, and make sure everyone else that is helping you has the time and resources they need as well.

With planning and organization, you have the opportunity to become an excellent scholarship candidate. Good luck on your scholarship search!