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A Simple Guide to Applying for a College Scholarship

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College isn’t cheap. Unfortunately, many people rack up thousands of dollars in student loan debt by the time they toss their graduation caps. This debt can plummet one’s credit score and even lead to bankruptcy later in life. Fortunately, you can take advantage of scholarship opportunities to greatly decrease the amount of student loan debt you have to pay once graduation rolls around. We’re sure that your future self will thank you for taking the time to read this guide to applying for a college scholarship.
When to apply for college scholarships

Most scholarship application deadlines are on March 1st. Deadlines can vary, however, so it’s important to pay close attention to the criteria of each individual scholarship - you don’t want to miss important cut-off dates. To give yourself the best chance of landing the scholarship of your choice, you should start applying as early as possible, even if you haven’t made an official decision on which university you want to attend. Many experts suggest that students should apply during the fall of their senior year or sooner. If you’re already attending college, it isn’t too late. Plenty of scholarship opportunities are available for current college students as well.

Types of college scholarship

The types of college scholarships you can apply for are virtually endless. Many scholarships are merit-based. These reward students for their talents in athletics or academic achievements, such as a high GPA or a stellar score on a college entrance exam. Need-based scholarships are also accessible. These scholarships often provide financial aid to students who come from low-income families. The list of opportunities doesn’t stop there; you can also find scholarships dedicated to students who are the first members of their family to attend college or a member of an underrepresented group. You can even get a scholarship for being good at playing video games or being a vegan. Whatever your situation is, there is surely a scholarship with your name on it out there somewhere.

How to find college scholarships

Many places exist to find scholarships, and your school councilor is a great place to start. They’ll assess your situation and help you find scholarship opportunities suited to your skills, grades, and financial situation. Additional places that can help you locate scholarships may include a college’s website, your library’s reference section, or even your place of worship. Many online search tools can help you find scholarships, such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool. If you’re already in college and are looking for scholarships, consider a visit to your university’s financial aid office or academic department.