College Scholarships For Teens: 6 Different Types to Look For
There are many scholarships available for high school students. Most people think scholarships are only for seniors, and while the majority are, there are scholarships available for students in 9th through 11th grades as well. In my previous work at the Career Center in the local high school, I provided a scholarship session a few times each year to help students gain a better understanding of where to find scholarships and how to present themselves in the most positive light. This enables them to be in a position to receive as many scholarships as possible.
The following list is comprised of the six most common scholarship categories:
1) National Scholarships: These are scholarships provided by businesses and agencies across the nation. Some are just for seniors, some are for juniors and seniors, and some are for all grades. Competing for scholarships that accept applicants nationwide may seem daunting, but someone has to win. And if you don't apply, it won't be you.
Examples of national companies that offer scholarships are:
- Best Buy
- Dunkin Donuts
- Burger King
- Olive Garden
These can be found easiest by just googling the name of the franchise with the word scholarship after it. You can just click on the link when it pops up, and you will usually be taken right to the online application.
2) Local Scholarships: These scholarships for seniors would be offered by banks and businesses in your town or state. Often banks, churches, Rotary clubs, the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, state departments of education, etc. have scholarships that are offered to students. The easiest place to find them is through the Career Center at a student's high school, or in the local newspaper. Quite often these have paper scholarship applications and will need to be picked up by the student, at the high school for instance, or can be mailed to the student from the organization that is offering it.
3) Athletic Scholarships: Often given by the student's high school Athletic Department, these are usually scholarships that can't be applied for, but are chosen by the Athletic Director or staff at the high school. Sometimes local scholarships for athletics will also be given by a recreation department or a local country club, but information will be available in the high school guidance office.
4) Miscellaneous scholarships: These are fun scholarships that only certain people will qualify for. For instance, there is a scholarship for duck calling, one for redheads, prom outfits made of duck tape, some for people who can make inspiring videos, another one for people who create the best greeting card, etc. These type of scholarships narrow down the competition so if you qualify for one, by all means, go for it. They can be found by looking up scholarships on scholarship websites such as Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com
5) High Schools: Chances are that the high school guidance department has a whole list of scholarships that are given by the school to students in their senior year. These are not ones that students can apply for, but for which guidance counselors make recommendations. The bottom line here is to get to know your guidance counselor VERY well. Your guidance counselor should know what the level of your financial need. This can usually be done by providing them with a copy of your student aid report (generated by the FAFSA). They should also have a copy of an activities resume so they can see what activities, including community service and leadership, a student has been involved with during his or her high school career. You may think they know all this off the top of their head, but most guidance counselors have between 200 - 250 students that they are responsible for, and it's hard for them to remember that information about that many students off the top of their heads. Help them out, and yourself as well, by providing them with that information as soon as you can get it.
6) College Financial Aid: All the colleges across the nation have a financial aid office. If you apply to a school with early action, early decision, or rolling admissions, you will probably get a letter congratulating you on your acceptance, and also a merit aid scholarship if you qualify for it. Merit aid is based on grades. Not all schools give them, and the Ivy League schools do not. The schools that do give merit aid scholarships will usually have an earlier deadline than the regular admission deadline. If you don't apply to the school before the merit aid deadline, you will miss your chance. To find out if the schools you wish to apply to have a merit aid deadline, look the school up online and find the link for financial aid. It should be listed there.
Merit Aid and the FAFSA
If you miss the deadline to receive merit aid, you can still be admitted to the school, but will only be eligible for possible financial aid, not merit aid. The other type of college financial aid is financial aid based on the FAFSA information you have filled out. Everyone should fill out a FAFSA even if you don't think you'll be eligible for aid. You never know until you apply. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can apply for it starting on January 1st of your senior year of high school. The website can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov/
Your Financial Aid Package
Many schools have FAFSA deadlines as well, so you also want to keep track of that, so you don't miss it. The deadlines usually run anywhere from February 1st through March 15th, but it is up to each college to choose their deadline. As with merit aid, if you miss the FAFSA deadline, you will miss your chance at federal aid. When you get your acceptance letters from colleges, usually at the end of March or on April 1st, it will have your financial aid package listed. The financial aid package could include merit aid from a rolling decision school that is telling you later in the Spring that you've been accepted there as a student. It could also include grants ( money that you don't need to pay back), scholarships ( also money that you don't need to pay back), work-study (students can usually earn up to $2,000 in a school year by working part-time on campus),and any student or parent loans you qualify for.
It's important to mention here that if you DO get accepted to a college that doesn't offer you financial aid, or not enough to be able to cover your costs, you or your parents should make an appointment with a financial aid officer at the college as soon as possible. Have a heart to heart discussion with them about the need for more money for you to attend that college.
If you live too far away for an office visit, a phone call will do. They prefer that the phone calls come from the student though as that is the person the school will be most connected to. If the money is available, they will try to give you more, depending on the circumstances.
The FAFSA is based on the previous year's tax information, and if a family situation has changed, such as a parent being laid off, or retiring, the amount of aid granted could go up if the financial aid officer is aware of the situation.
Copyright by Karen Hellier, 2012
This is my favorite scholarship book wich I used to find scholarships for high school students when I ran the career center. It is updated each year, and this i
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© 2012 Karen Hellier