How to win scholarships for college freshmen
Now that you’ve got a list of some great opportunities, it’s time to start your applications. Most college scholarships receive a huge number of applicants, so it’s important to ensure that your application stands out from the crowd.
Essays are one of the best ways to showcase what makes you unique on a scholarship application. To ace your essay, check out our “Show, Don’t Tell” essay primer, and our guide on how to write an essay about yourself. And if you need a little nudge to get you started, try out our guide on how to start a scholarship essay – we’ve even included a few examples to inspire you to get that first word on the page!
It’s also important to keep word limits in mind as you write your essay. Different scholarship programs put different limits on their essay prompts, and you should adjust the scope of your essay based on those limits. Our guides to writing 250 and 500 word essays can help you tune your writing to these different limits.
Tips for college freshmen
Freshman year is a big year for students. If you are a first-year in college, it may be your first time living away from your parents, cooking your own meals, and managing your own money. To top it all off, this is all in addition to adjusting to college academics and balancing extracurriculars with schoolwork! Luckily, we have a few tips to help you through this transition.
These include guides on how to make money in college, how to save money, and how to decide whether work-study is worth it for you. You can also check out our guides on how to find roommates and how to pay for housing, and investigate whether you can pay for off-campus housing with student loans. And don’t miss our guide on how to get involved on campus!
Don’t forget the FAFSA
Remember, as a college student, you have to fill out the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile every year to keep your college updated on your financial need. If your economic situation changes, your need-based aid may increase or decrease as a result. In order to maintain eligibility for the Pell Grant, federal loans, and institutional aid, be sure to fill out the required forms every year.
Look into local scholarships
Local scholarships are one of the most overlooked resources for students looking to fund their bachelor’s degree. Many local institutions, such as community service organizations, religious institutions, or neighborhood associations offer scholarship funds, and sometimes memorial scholarships for past members. These can help undergraduate students earn their degrees without going into debt.
One reason why local scholarships are so important is because these specific scholarships receive less applications. That means each applicant has a higher chance of winning. Make sure to look into these scholarship opportunities to find some promising leads to fund your college education.
Frequently asked questions
Can you apply to scholarships once you're already in college?
Will my financial aid go down if I win a scholarship once I'm in college?
Before applying to scholarships, it’s a good idea to ask your financial aid office about their “scholarship displacement policy” to find out how additional scholarship funds might affect your aid. If they tell you that they will reduce your need-based aid by exactly the amount you earn in scholarships, you may be better off spending your time working a job to help fund your education.
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