So, ideally, by the end of February your applications for admission are submitted, the FAFSA is filed and the CSS Profile is complete.* What should you do with all of your free time?
Search for scholarships of course! As you wait for your acceptance letters and financial aid award packages, now is the time to focus your efforts on searching for additional college funding. A good place to start is by applying for local scholarships.*(Note: If this doesn't describe your status, don't fear! There are still options and support to help you get to this stage quickly. Keep reading, but check in with your school counselor and call our office anytime to get on track. We're here to help. And, if you’re in 9th, 10th or 11th grade, it isn’t too early to get familiar with the national and local organizations described below!)
Should I apply for national scholarships or just stick with the local opportunities?
A few of the largest databases of national scholarships can be found online at www.fastweb.com, www.collegeboard.com, and www.collegetoolkit.com. Scholarships are free money; so, why not apply to as many as you can? But, it is important to remember that these are national opportunities that will have much bigger applicant pools. Still, if your credentials or background fits the program, go for it! Somebody has to win, why not you? Some students will use their talents or skills to compete in competitions such as the Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year contest from www.bodybymilk.com or Duck Tape's Stuck at Prom contest.Often students report that a majority of scholarship dollars came from local opportunities which presented a much higher chance of award.
Where can I find local scholarship opportunities?
New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF) is one of the country's largest community foundations and the largest source of independent student aid in the State.The NHCF offers an online application portal requiring applicants to fill out only one application to be eligible for most programs offered by the foundation. While only New Hampshire residents are eligible to apply, recipients can take funding to out-of-state colleges. Check out the NHCF Web site!
Does it take a lot of time to apply?
The way we see it, if it takes you two hours to complete an application and you get even a $500 scholarship, you’ve just earned $250 an hour! Many scholarship applications can be downloaded right from the Web. The applications may require a copy of your transcript, a letter of reference or a personal essay, similar to those you have written for college applications. Some will ask for a copy of your Student Aid Report from the FAFSA. Whether you complete a paper version or submit online, remember to complete the application fully and accurately. As with your college applications and financial aid documents, deadlines are critical. Get your application in by the stated deadline to ensure your eligibility.
What are "Outside Scholarships"?
"Outside” scholarship funding includes awards to students from various organizations or charities outside of a college's financial aid program intended to help students manage college costs. These programs are intended to help students pay tuition and other costs associated with higher education like room and board, fees or books and supplies. If you are fortunate enough to be awarded outside scholarship dollars, the funds are typically sent directly to the college you have chosen on your behalf. Once you are notified of your award, contact the college's financial aid office to determine how the college will treat outside scholarships. In many instances, the funds will be applied directly towards your balance. In other cases, such as if you receive more scholarship funding than you require to pay the cost of attendance, a college may reduce the amount of financial aid they have offered. This depends on a number of factors including your EFC (Expected Family Contribution), your initial award package, and the college's policy. Do not let this possibility discourage you from searching and applying for outside scholarships and grants. If receiving an outside scholarship reduces your need to work or borrow, it is still well worth the effort.
Will I Lose Financial Aid if I Get a Local Scholarship?
When a student is offered a private scholarship, they are required by federal law to report the amount to the college they plan on attending. Once this is done, the college’s financial aid office must re-evaluate the student’s award package to determine whether or not they have been “over-awarded.”
In many cases, private scholarships will help cover the gap left between the financial aid package and the EFC (expected financial contribution). However if there is no gap, the student could possibly see reductions in the aid originally offered. Typically, however, if campuses do reduce your aid, it will be so that you have to borrow less in student loans or work less through federal work-study. Either way, applying for scholarships will be worth the effort!
Each college will have their own policy on the treatment and procedure for handling this type of situation, so it is important to discuss that with the financial aid office in advance. The questions to ask? “What is your policy on the treatment of outside scholarships? If I get a local scholarship will you reduce my financial aid package? If so, will you reduce student loans, work-study or institutional grants first?”