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Attention all Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors – Start Your Scholarship Search Now!

Don’t wait until the last minute to think about scholarships.  Early research and planning are your best strategies to maximize the possibility of receiving scholarships.  Scholarships can be need-based (based on the financial need of the student and family), merit-based (any type of merit including academic, community service, anticipated major, sports, etc.) or a combination of both.  Scholarships do not have to be paid back.  Many students thought their dream school was not possible financially, but the right scholarship may be the key to your degree from your dream school. 

Beware! Frequently we receive calls to confirm if a scholarship is legitimate.  If it sounds too good to be true, that should send up warning flags.  You have to apply for scholarships. If you are contacted by a scholarship provider and are asked to send money for the application, no matter how small the amount of money, beware.  The same applies to postcards sent to families to attend a workshop, the initial workshop is free, but all of a sudden you are asked to sign up for a service that may cost you hundreds of dollars.  You need help with college costs, not additional monthly payments. 

The National Center for College Costs does not share the information provided on the College Costs Estimator to anyone.  There are companies who sell names and addresses to vendors who in turn contact the student with offers to sell them scholarship searches and other services.  Most of these services are available on the internet for free.  Please go to our website, www.indianacollegecosts.org  and click on the blue box , Learn Where the Money Is.  This site includes information for local scholarships, scholarships for adult learners, veterans and others.  Check it out! 

You think it is too early to be looking for scholarships for your middle school student?  Research today could make all the difference when your student is a senior.  We have some suggestions.

  • Indiana has a scholarship for middle school students, Twenty-first Century Scholars.  This scholarship is based on the financial need of the student during middle school.  The student must fulfill the Twenty-first Century Scholars Pledge, maintain a 2.5 GPA and graduate from an accredited Indiana high school.  You must apply and be accepted while the student is in 7th or 8th grade.  If you miss this deadline you may be missing out on valuable assistance for college expenses in the future.  You can go to: http://www.in.gov/21stcenturyscholars/  for information and to enroll. 
  • Pick up the awards program from your school.  Most schools list the scholarships awarded to seniors.  Are there scholarships on the list your child may be eligible for?  Who awarded those scholarships?   Is there information about the requirements?  Is there a GPA or community service requirement, or is this for a particular college or college major?  This information may be as close as the internet or the high school counselor’s office.
  • Start a resume of your accomplishments during middle school.   Seniors have so many applications to complete it is easy to forget important information. Make sure to keep a record of awards, community service, organizations your student participated in and offices held in those organizations.  Your application is your chance to make the case you are deserving of this scholarship.  They won’t know how deserving you are if you leave out key information.
  • Don’t forget to check about scholarships your parents’ employer may award.  Some companies also include scholarships for grandchildren of their employees. You won’t know until you ask.
  • Does the program you are interested in have a co-op program?   You attend college for a semester and then intern with a company interested in you as a future employee.  You are building your job resume, receive help with college expenses and many times you will also receive compensation while you intern.  This is one sweet deal for the right student. 
  • Don’t limit your search to only “full ride scholarships.”  Small scholarships add up fast.  You don’t want to leave money on the table.
  • Complete a College Costs Estimator.  Got to www.indiancollegecosts.org and click on the yellow “Click Here To Begin” button on the home page. You will be able to complete the same information required on the FAFSA (which you will fill out as a high school senior) and get an early estimate of the need-based financial aid you may be eligible for.  This will also give you an idea of what income and assets the government will require you to report.
  • Some organizations offer scholarships for essays written as early as middle school.  Give that essay the attention it deserves.  They are going to give the money to someone, why not you? 
  • You received a scholarship!  Remember to send a thank you note to the scholarship provider. How would you feel if you gave your money away and the recipient did not thank you?  The provider believed in you and wanted to invest their money in your success.  Let them know their support is appreciated. 
Students and parents frequently hear that thousands of dollars for scholarships are not awarded.  This information is correct.  Your student will not be eligible for every scholarship awarded.  You and your student need to focus on the scholarships he/she is eligible for and make sure the application is a good reflection of the reasons you should receive this scholarship. 

Publication Date: June 2015

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