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Options Exist for Students in High School, College, Vocational Centers and Other Post-Secondary Programs
September through November are the peak times to apply for scholarships, according to Scholarship America, the nation’s largest provider of scholarships.
Scholarship America is also advising students currently in high school as well as post-secondary institutions to be creative and search far and wide to find scholarship dollars to offset record-high tuition costs. In addition, students shouldn’t stop searching for scholarships after getting into school, but rather continue to search year after year while they are earning their advanced degree.
“There are nearly $3 billion in scholarships available each year through corporations, foundations and community groups, and many of them start accepting applications in September,” said Lauren Segal, president and CEO of Scholarship America. “With student loan debt at nearly $1 trillion, where it has actually surpassed credit card debt for the second year in a row, it is more important than ever for students in high school and post-secondary schools to take the time, do their homework and start at the beginning of the school year when most of the scholarship applications open up.”
Scholarship America offers a wealth of information for students seeking scholarship dollars for education beyond high school. In 2010, Scholarship America provided nearly $200 million to 105,000 students through its programs.
“As you plan for the future and choose which post-secondary option is right for you, be realistic about how much debt you can take on,” Segal said. “Think about your long-term goals, and how scholarships can help you cover the cost of your education.”
And while many people think scholarships are only available for individuals who have excellent academics, Scholarship America dispels many common myths including:
Myth: Scholarships Are Only For High School Students
Fact: Scholarships are available for a variety of students including those currently in college, individuals considering graduate school and people who are older but wanting to go back to school. There also are scholarships for vocational training and other post-secondary programs. For instance, Sally Beauty partners with the Professional Beauty Association and the National Cosmetology Association to offer scholarships to high school graduates entering the cosmetology profession. In addition, the College JumpStart Scholarship offers merit-based scholarships to current college students and non-traditional students, and the Gen Kelly Tanabe Scholarship is open to high school, undergraduate, graduate and adult students.
Myth: Scholarships Are Only for Students with a 4.0 GPA
Fact: There are many scholarships that look beyond academics and reward students’ talents, passions, volunteerism and more. For instance, the Dave Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship is designed for students with average grades but imaginative and artistic minds. And if you spent your time in high school volunteering, The Caring Institute wants to reward your commitment to service. In addition, the Horatio Alger Association provides scholarships for students who have demonstrated grace and integrity while overcoming adversity.
Myth: I can only receive one scholarship
Fact: Scholarships can be awarded up to the cost of attendance to an organization beyond high school, meaning you can receive as many scholarships as it costs to pay tuition. Whether that means one, two or three different scholarships, the more you apply, the more likely you are to earn scholarship dollars.
Myth: More is Better When It Comes to Scholarship Applications
Fact: While many students are eager to highlight their successes in scholarship essays, it is imperative that you read the directions carefully and follow them. Many programs receive hundreds of entries and often their first step is to remove any applicants that didn’t follow the guidelines.
This year, Scholarship America is celebrating 50 years of providing more than $2.5 billion in scholarships and sending 1.7 million students to college. The organization was founded in 1961 in Fall River, Massachusetts by Dr. Irving Fradkin, who noticed a discrepancy between students’ desires to go to college and their families’ abilities to pay for it. To bridge the gap, Fradkin asked each person in his Fall River community to donate just $1 towards sending Fall River seniors to college. His early efforts became known as the Dollars for Scholars program, which still exists today under Scholarship America and is active in more than 3,500 communities nationwide.
To learn more about Scholarship America, visit www.scholarshipamerica.org.
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About Scholarship America
Scholarship America is a national education service organization that mobilizes support for students getting into and graduating from college. Scholarship America has distributed more than $2.5 billion in scholarship assistance to more than 1.7 million students over the last 50 years. Scholarship America’s programs, which include Dollars for Scholars®, help fund both entry-level and multi-year scholarships, as well as emergency financial grants. More information is available at scholarshipamerica.org.
Scholarship America’s Dream Award is a renewable scholarship fund targeted toward completion. These annually-increasing awards will be given to students selected from across the nation who are entering their second year of education beyond high school.
Scholarship America's blog, The Scholarship Coach, appears weekly at USNews.com, featuring expert advice on all kinds of scholarship issues. Here on the site, we feature a new highlight from the blog every week, and you can also download a free Scholarship Coach e-book!
Nearly 1/4 of the U.S. population owes a collective $700 billion in student loan debt. We are committed to helping more students graduate from college with less debt. A gift of just $1 a day -- for a week, for a month, or for a year -- can help ensure that students are able to achieve their goals.