- First stop: your high school counseling office
- Think local: local and regional scholarships may be easier to win
- Internet scholarship search tips
College scholarships can be a great source of “free money” to help pay for college. There is more than $3 million in private scholarships being offered to college-bound students annually, but you need to know where to look. The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), the State’s student financial aid agency that helps people pay for college, offers a few tips during Student Financial Aid Awareness Month to help kick-start your scholarship search:
First stop: Your School Counseling Office
The school counselors’ office should be the first stop for any high school student. Most counselors have files full of national, state and local scholarships. Local civic organizations, regional businesses and chambers of commerce often offer scholarships; your school counseling office will usually have details on these, as well. Local scholarships, available to a smaller number of students, may be easier to win than larger, national awards.
Employer and Community Scholarships
Businesses may offer college scholarships as an employee benefit. Your parents or guardians can check with their workplace human resources department or trade union to see if scholarships for family members are available. If you work part time, you may qualify for an employee scholarship, if one is offered.
If you played Babe Ruth baseball, belong to a bowling league, are in girl or boy scouts, or a volunteer fire and rescue company -- or have a parent who belongs to a professional or social organization such as the Elks Club, Rotary, or a fraternity of police, you may have a source for a college scholarship. Churches, synagogues, or other religious organizations may have scholarship opportunities, too. Speak to your club, sports, civic organization or religious leaders to let them know of your interest.
Search the Internet
Internet searches can reveal a wealth of scholarship opportunities; HESC.ny.gov can help you get started. You can set up searches by field of study, key word, location, and other variables. Be aware of dot-com scholarship searches; some may try to sell you services you don’t need.
Be sure to include hobbies, ethnic background and other interests in your Internet search. If you like to knit, skateboard, drink milk, or create sculptures from Duct Tape, there may be a scholarship for you.
The colleges you are considering may have scholarships available, too. College websites have information about paying for college, and include details about campus scholarships offered to incoming students. Look in the admissions and financial aid sections.
Many a high school athlete dreams of competing at a top-level University sports program. In reality, the number of “free-ride” sport scholarships may be limited, but if participating in a NCAA College sport appeals to you, be sure to talk with your athletic coach and discuss your aspirations early in your high school sports career. Be sure to review the academic and other requirements at NCAA.org.
All branches of the military offer a Reserve Officer Training Corp. (ROTC) program at many four-year colleges. ROTC programs offer scholarships to pay all or part of college costs, and provide high-quality leadership training. Upon graduation, you will earn a college diploma and a commission in the military. You must agree to active or reserve duty service for a specified period. Find details about ROTC scholarships at www.Military.com/ROTC. Other recruitment and other scholarship incentives exist with the New York National Guard.
- Create a resume of your academic and personal experience and include any special projects you completed, awards earned, clubs, leadership positions, volunteer work or paid jobs.
- Keep records of the scholarships for which you applied and when; keep a copy of the application and essay, if one was required, for your own records.
There are scholarships out there – use these resources to find them and apply.