Tag Archives: #scholarship #college #financialaid

How to access scholarship money

5 Apr

Yay! You got a scholarship! Congratulations!

I know what you’re thinking: “Now how do I get the MONEY?”

If you have received notice of a scholarship other than from your future college, you will want to make sure you keep track of how to access the money.

If you have more than one scholarship, make a chart (or separate file folders) with the following information:

Name and address of the organization.
Contact name at the organization and a phone number for that person.
Email address for the contact.
Amount of the scholarship
Requirement(s) to access the money
Date (if needed) to write for the funds

Typically, organizations require one or more of the following:

  • Proof of admission — a letter (or email notice) that you have been accepted to your college.
  • Proof of registration in a college or trade school — an official letter or online acknowledgement that you have made the commitment to attend that college. Registration typically requires some kind of a deposit.
  • Proof of enrollment — online list of your courses or an official notice from your college that you have enrolled in classes (most require full-time attendance, typically 12 units).
  • Official transcript of your completion of your first semester or first quarter.
  • A letter from you requesting the funds, with an indication of where to send the check.

Do not expect the organization to remind you to request the funds. That’s your job! Some organizations may actually CANCEL your scholarship if you do not request the money on a timely basis.

Additionally, while some organizations continue their payments from year to year, others may require that you reapply annually. Don’t expect the organization to remind you of the process or deadline.

And most importantly . . . handwrite a sincere thank you note on nice stationery and mail it as soon as you receive the initial news of your scholarship . . . do not even wait until you get the money.

 

 

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Use your Christmas break wisely

15 Dec

While it may be tempting to just couch surf over your Christmas break, the couple or more weeks off provide a great opportunity to work on and submit the last of your college applications, as well as scholarship applications.

While you won’t win every scholarship for which you apply, you definitely WILL NOT win any for which you do not apply. Increase the odds, senior: get as many done as you possibly can. If my small-town students can win big, national scholarships, so can YOU!

Here are some tips for winning scholarships. I feel confident in sharing these, because my own four children won more than FIFTY scholarships.

  • Your best odds are local scholarships. Do those first, because a few number of students are applying for them.
  • Answer each question thoroughly.
  • Use formal language but be real and personal.
  • Use specific examples to explain your claims. Don’t just speak in generalities.
  • Don’t exaggerate who you are, but definitely think through your own personal history and try to connect with the organization.
  • If there are optional questions, answer them.
  • Spellcheck your essay. Ask someone else to read it over and offer suggestions. It needs to sparkle to rise above the pile of ho-hum submissions.
  • If the organization asks for an essay of say, 100-300 words, use the whole 300 words, which gives you that chance to show you are the right person.
  • Double-check the requirements before you mail or submit the application. Make sure you have met all the basic requirements.
  • Do not pay to enter a scholarship–that’s a ripoff.

Remember: Doing a little each day to work toward your college and career goals makes what might seem like an overwhelming task quite reachable.

Evaluating aid offers

24 Mar

Weighing offers can be confusing!

As your financial aid offers start coming in, you and your parents may be a little confused. The differing formats and terminology may seem like you’re being asked to compare apples with oranges.

Buffy Tanner, a counselor with the BOLD (Bachelor’s through Online and Local Degrees) program at Shasta College, has some helpful advice. (She was formerly part of the College OPTIONS organization, which has a mission to strengthen the college-going culture in the more rural areas of northern California by increasing opportunities for students to pursue and become informed about postsecondary education).

portland-1-jFirst, she says to make sure each college includes all five components of Cost of Attendance (some colleges don’t include all five on their award letters):

  • Tuition/Fees
  • Room/Board
  • Books/Supplies
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses

Tanner also says, “Students need to realize that the Cost of Attendance published by each school is an AVERAGE, ESTIMATED cost.  For some students, transportation costs may be more or less, they can save money by tripling up in a dorm, or by living at home, etc.  As much as possible, they should personalize that Cost of Attendance for each college to determine what they will REALLY need.”

The College OPTIONS organization has developed a Financial Aid Offer Comparison Worksheet that can help you evaluate financial aid offers. In this Excel document you can insert the numbers of each type of aid from a college (and then the next college and the next), so as to get an actual “apples to apples” comparison (instead of apples to alligators).  This tool is online:  http://www.collegeoptions.org/#!financial-aid/c8k2. (See the middle column “Tools for Award Letters” — the last bullet. There is also a link for instructions on how to use the tool.)

“There are MANY roads from point A to point B,” Tanner notes. “Some are more scenic than others, others are quicker, still others have hidden gems along the way that they don’t even know about.”

In any case, do not make rash decisions based on a quick glance of the financial aid offers. Weigh your options carefully and make sure any decision is done with the help of your parents.