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Ultimate Guide to College Scholarships - What You Should Know


Getting a scholarship for college can make a big difference in how much you have to pay for your education. But do you know the best ways to get scholarships? Are you comfortable with the application process? What about scholarships for people who want to learn a trade or attend technical schools? Fortunately, we have the answers you're seeking. You can find the right places to apply, sort out the good from the bad, and give yourself the best chance of getting scholarships when you handle the process the right way. Here's what you need to know, so you can reap all the benefits of scholarships for your education.

What are the Biggest Benefits of Obtaining Scholarships?

Most people can quickly spot the biggest benefit of obtaining scholarships -- money toward your education, that you don't have to pay back. Scholarships are like grants, in that they're essentially free money you can use for your schooling. Unlike a student loan, you'll never have to repay your scholarship. That can ease your financial burden and help you attend college or trade school, even when you thought you might not be able to. Some people go to school entirely on scholarships, but even getting a few of them or a partial scholarship can make a significant difference in the amount of money you'll have to spend or borrow.

But there are two other benefits that can come along with scholarships: self-esteem, and peace of mind. When you qualify for scholarships your self-esteem gets a boost. You were selected for a scholarship because of something you did that stood out to other people. Whether that was academic, community-related, or anything else, it was important. Scholarships also provide peace of mind, because they ease the financial burdens and worries that some people have when they attend school. Worrying less about paying for education can make it easier to focus on learning the material and performing well in class.

The Different Types of Scholarships

Scholarships aren't all about one specific thing. While they're all designed to help you pay for your education, they aren't all offered to students with the same type of background or talents. There are several types of scholarships you can apply for, depending on your strengths and abilities, along with what you might have already done in your previous schooling. You don't have to have a 4.0 GPA or be a star athlete to receive a scholarship. A lot of the help in paying for education will go to "average" students who show potential. According to GoCollege, there are actually eight main types of scholarships, including:

  • - Academic
  •   - Average academic performance
  •     - Athletic
  •       - Minority
  •         - Women
  •           - Creative
  •             - Unusual
  •               - Community service

If you fall into one of those categories -- especially if you've had average academic performance but you're very active in other areas of life, like your community -- there are plenty of different scholarships you can consider applying for. These types of scholarships are a good reminder that you don't have to have academic excellence to get scholarships, and even "average" students should consider applying. If you've done a lot of things in other areas of your life, such as activism, community service, art, athletics, or something else, there are plenty of scholarship opportunities for you to consider.

Different Ways to Apply for Scholarships

Applying for scholarships can be done in several ways, although online applications are becoming more common with the advancement of technology. In some cases, you can apply right through your school. Many educational institutions have pages on their sites where you can see the requirements for scholarships they have available. Then you fill out the information required and either send it electronically or turn it in to the person in the financial aid office who's in charge of scholarship information. There are also sites not affiliated with schools where you can apply for scholarships, as well.

Where Should You Apply for Scholarships?

The school you're interested in attending will generally have a list of scholarships you can apply for. If they don't provide that, they will likely have links to sites where you can look through scholarships to apply for. For schools that don't provide online access to scholarship opportunities, checking with financial aid to ask about scholarships could provide you with printed material you can use to seek out opportunities. There are also online sites that are specifically geared toward scholarships for college. You just want to be sure you're choosing good sites and focusing on quality options.

For example, you should never have to pay to get a list of scholarships you can apply for. Any site that asks you to pay should be avoided, since you can get all the information you need for free. Scholarships are always free to apply for, no matter what college or academic level they're for. Your school is a good resource for finding those opportunities, but if you aren't sure where else to look there are plenty of sites you can consider. Be wary of anything that wants too much personal information, just to see a list of what's offered. Legitimate sites don't work that way.

Scholarships for Technical School Students

If you want to go to a technical school or trade school instead of college, you still have the option of getting scholarships. A lot of people think you can only get scholarships for a two-year or four-year college, but that's simply not the case. More people are needed in a lot of different trades and professions, and if you want to be one of those people you'll need to focus on how you can make that a reality. Not everyone who wants to go to a technical school has the means to pay for it, and with a scholarship you have the chance to learn something valuable to you and to society, at a price you can afford.

Another way to get money for technical school is to consider the Pell Grant. It was previously only for college students, but now there are proposals to extend it to technical school education and short-term training programs, as well. That can make it easier for lower-income students to get the help they need to attend school, even if they don't get a lot of scholarships. With a mix of scholarships and the Pell Grant, it could also mean you wouldn't have to take out student loans or that you wouldn't owe nearly as much money on those loans when your technical school education was completed.

Scholarship Availability for Trade Professions

When it comes to getting scholarships for trade professions, you might have to look a little harder. But that doesn't mean you can't find options that will meet your needs and give you a chance to get some or all of your schooling paid for. There are more opportunities out there than you might think, which will allow you to fund at least part of your education with money you won't have to pay back. There are both merit-based and need-based scholarships available, and you can also apply for scholarships that are designed for specific majors. That way you have choices, and can apply for the ones that are right for your needs.

Don't underestimate the value of going to a trade school and getting into a profession that's in demand. You don't necessarily need a college degree to do well in life, or to make a good income. When you choose to focus on scholarships that are designed for a technical education, you can get plenty of support and help with your schooling costs, and have the chance to learn something very valuable. No matter what kind of career interests you, you shouldn't just assume you have to pay for all of it yourself. Explore your options, so you can find something that's truly right for your needs, finances, and career goals.

What's the Bottom Line on Scholarships?

The bottom line on scholarships is that they're available, but they're not a guarantee. In some cases you'll apply for a lot of them and only get one or two. But you might also get a lot of them, which will give you the chance to get the education you want and do much more with your life. That's a good way to feel better about yourself, and to contribute to society in important ways. Whether you get a four-year degree or learn a trade, you can see big benefit from a quality education. When you get scholarships you'll have less out-of-pocket cost or student debt, too, so you can feel good about your financial future.

By: Lee Preston
Lee is the Director of Marketing and Promotion for When she is not working with our storage facilities partners, she is writing about topics that affect our daily lives.

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