Scholarships & grants are different from loans and other financial aid. Scholarships & grants are the BEST kinds of financial aid you can get because they are gifts with no strings attached.
Scholarships & grants are called “gift aid”.
The 3 types of aid are:
Gift Aid: Scholarships or grants, not repaid.
Loan Aid: Borrowed money, repaid with interest
Work Aid: Money earner as payment for job.
The goal is to get as much “Gift Aid” as possible so you don’t ever have to pay that back!
Below you’ll find out about what it takes and where to find more scholarships and grants.
Have a bomb essay and recommendation letters.
There are a few components to writing a great essay for a scholarship.
Do a lot of research on the scholarship you’re applying for. Is the scholarship named after a person? Are they living or dead? What were they most interested in leaving behind? Are you a good example of that in some way?
Address the scholarship committee
Honor societies and advanced courses will show that you’re not just interested in doing the bare minimum. Mention these if they are applicable to you. Advanced drama courses are included! It shows that you’re going the extra mile, and that’s attractive to people who are giving you money.
Give recommendation letter writers some helpful bullet points of what you would like mentioned. Contrary to what you might think, it’s super helpful to have an idea of what you want mentioned in your recommendation letter. Of course, the writer knows you and will put their own thoughts in their recommendation letter but they know it’s for your benefit, so it’s helpful (and it shows you care) if you share a couple bullet points of guidance for them. Here’s an example: "I know you’ll write a great letter of recommendation for me. Here’s a couple things I’m looking for the letter to accomplish: -Genuinely describes me -Explains my strengths and qualifications. -Discuss my potential growth -And remember that project I did a couple years ago where I had a really cool breakthrough and won that award? I’d really appreciate if you mentioned it. -Would love if you could have it returned to me by [specific date 3 or 4 weeks out]."
Find smaller, less popular scholarships/grants.
Finding those lesser-known scholarships takes more work, but your chances of winning them is higher.
Ask your local newspaper if they’re hosting any scholarships.
Ask your friends and families. They might be part of organizations that have little known scholarships. Sometimes their workplaces have scholarship funds.
Use Pinterest. Search “Scholarship” boards and find tons of lists others may not know about.
Use LinkedIn. If you’re not on LinkedIn, ask family members who are and snoop around. A lot of students are NOT looking on LinkedIn and you can find those less competitive scholarships to apply to.