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Smaller local awards are easier to win than big national scholarships


Those local scholarships may be worth just a few hundred dollars (or less), but you have a better chance to win them compared to national contests held by huge companies. This is be- cause the applicant pools for local scholarships are much smaller: there are fewer applicants because fewer students are eligible to win, and as mentioned before, a lot of people don’t think they’re worth their time, so they don’t even bother to apply. Don’t make this mistake—these little scholarships add up nicely, and win- ning some money for college is better than winning none!


A free ride is not that common


This phrase is used a lot, but getting a “free ride” to college doesn’t happen as often as you think it does. According to the Washington Post, the 2015–2016 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study found that only 0.2% of students got more than $25,000 in scholarships that year; the average amount for scholarship recipients was $4,202. You might hear about students receiving full-tuition scholarships, but there are a lot more expenses they have to cover them- selves, including room, board, fees, textbooks, etc.


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Merit-based scholarships aren’t available at every college


Private schools are known for award- ing students more scholarship money, but these are often need-based schol- arships (money awarded through the FAFSA for demonstrated fi- nancial need), not merit based. Also of note, Division III col- leges do not offer athletic scholarships, nor do Ivy League schools. According to The College Solution, “The lower the admission rate, the less likely the school is to offer merit scholarships.”


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Scholarships can affect other aid You need to report all the schol- arships you win to your financial aid office. If you receive a substantial award, that may affect your financial aid package, because your aid can’t exceed the college’s cost of attendance by more than $300. Receiving a big outside scholarship means you won’t have as much demonstrated finan- cial need, and if your school offered you need-based institutional schol- arships or loans, they could reduce the amount they offer you. If you have questions about outside schol- arships, it’s best to contact your col- lege(s) of interest to inquire about their policies.


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You have to follow the directions when you apply If a scholarship requires a 500-


word essay, don’t submit 1,000. If an award is meant for students starting their first semester but you’ve already completed a year of college, don’t waste your time applying. And per- haps most important is the deadline: if you have until April 1 to submit an application, don’t send it in after that date—it will not be considered.


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You should never have to pay for a scholarship


There aren’t many reasons to pass up a chance at a scholarship, but this is probably the biggest one. You need to watch out for scams—scholarship applications are always free to fill out (and while we’re at it, so is the FAFSA), so you shouldn’t have to pay to apply for or receive one. If you see one of these red flags, move on and find something more legitimate.


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You can lose scholarships after you’ve received them


It’s true—if you receive a scholarship that’s contingent on having a certain GPA, you need to work toward that number or higher throughout the semester. If you don’t, your scholarship could be revoked. Rules are rules, so keep your grades up!


One more bonus fact: the scholarship search never really ends! You should be searching and applying for schol- arships throughout your college ca- reer. It might sound like a lot of work, but a couple hours working on scholarship applications every week could result in substantial monetary rewards. Who can really complain about that?


Claire Carter is the Editor at Carnegie Dartlet and CollegeXpress.com.


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