How to Apply for Scholarships

Find out ways to create a winning scholarship application.

Photo: Thinkstock

Although the individual applications for college scholarships may vary, certain facts remain constant: The key to winning a scholarship is to do your research, apply for as many scholarships as you can, and submit a complete and compelling application.

Scholarships can be an important part of your financial aid money for college, and because of that, you’ll want to make sure you the time to complete the application and make smart decisions about accepting any scholarships you receive.

Make copies of all of your applications, including essays, before you submit them. That way you can refer to applications you’ve already completed when you find additional scholarships you want to pursue.

Whether you’re applying for a university scholarship through the school you’re enrolling in or are seeking scholarships for women or military scholarships, read on for important guidance through the college scholarship application process.

Preparing a College Scholarship Application

Some scholarship deadlines fall as early as autumn of your senior year of high school, right when you’re working on college applications. To ensure that you have enough time to complete your application, you’ll want to begin researching school scholarships and requesting application materials as early as possible.

If you can make free time the summer before your senior year, this is a good time to start compiling your scholarship applications. For each university scholarship you’re considering, be sure you review the application as soon as you can to make sure you know what’s required. Some will ask only for basic information about you, your high school education and your plans for a college education, while others may request tax forms, college financial aid forms, multiple essays and letters of recommendation.

Some students miss out on valuable college money simply by missing deadlines for their college scholarships. Make sure you keep track of your deadlines to ensure you have enough time to complete and submit your scholarship application.

Submitting Your Scholarship Application

Once you’ve gathered all the required information for a scholarship application, take the time to review it carefully. You may even want to ask a parent, close friend or your guidance counselor to review it for you, to make sure the application is complete and has been filled out correctly.

Incomplete or incorrect applications for school scholarships may be discounted, even if you would otherwise be the perfect candidate for that award. Looking over your application with a fresh eye, and asking for constructive advice help you turn in the best application you can, which brings you closer to being awarded that college money.

If you’ve been asked to write essays for your application, be sure you get a second reader on those as well. Typos, poor sentence structure or a misunderstanding of the assignment will all count negatively against you when seeking scholarships for college, so be sure your essay is well crafted and speaks directly to the topic you were asked to write about. You also want to make sure the essay topic accurately highlights your talents and skills, particularly the ones that relate to the scholarship you’re seeking.

Similarly, if you’re submitting an art portfolio or a video of your ability in athletics, music, theatre or other arts, make sure you send a strong, concise presentation of your particular talents. An hour-long video of you playing basketball will be less compelling than a 10-minute video of your best high school moments, just as an art portfolio of 30 similar pieces will show less of your ability than 10 pieces of art that show your range as an artist.

Quick Tips

  • Make copies of all of your applications, including essays, before you submit them. That way you can refer to applications you’ve already completed when you find additional scholarships you want to pursue.
  • If you receive scholarship money for college, make sure you know the terms before you accept it: Will it renew the next year of your college degree? Are there requirements or obligations tied to the acceptance of this award? Will it negatively impact the rest of your college financial aid?
  • Seeking scholarships for college from organizations you or your parents are affiliated with? If so, you may be asked to provide proof of membership. If you don’t already have written proof, pursue it in plenty of time to make your scholarship deadline.
  • Follow instructions. Some scholarship providers may receive thousands of applications. Provide the requested materials, but don’t add additional items, such as videos, essays or letters or recommendation, that aren’t requested. Instead of strengthening your application, these things could weaken it.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

Scholarship Basics
How to Find Scholarships
Beware of Scholarship Scams
Athletic Scholarships: The Basics

See All College Scholarships and Grants for Education Articles

Quick Search: Find the College that's Right for You!

OR

Visit Our Student Center

Get on track!

Visit our Student Center

And find out everything you need to know about planning for college.

Visit our FREE
scholarship directory

Seach 1.9 million scholarships worth over $7.75 billion

Search Now!