It can be really scary thinking about how you’re going to pay for college. The overall price may seem intimidating, but keep in mind that nobody pays that sticker price. Scholarships can substantially lower the price families pay for a college education. PUC offers many scholarships that can help, but the reality is we can’t always offer as much financial aid as some students might need. Don’t worry, though! It’s estimated that there are 1.5 million scholarships in the United States alone, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to start your scholarship search.
1. Think Locally
Take a look around your community for scholarship opportunities – you might be surprised at what you find in your area. Your local Rotary Club and Kiwanis International Club may offer college scholarships, as could your chamber of commerce. Other businesses and community groups could provide college scholarships as well. Your high school guidance counselor may also have ideas of where you can look nearby for scholarships. One big advantage of applying for local scholarships is that there’s far less competition for them than there are for state or national scholarships – you have a greater chance at receiving them! Remember to check with your church too.
2. Get Online
I talk with a lot of students who worry they won’t receive any scholarships since they don’t have a 4.0 GPA, but keep in mind scholarships aren’t just for students with a great GPA. There are non-academic scholarships available based on your major field of interest, hobbies, and more. There are many places you can look online for college scholarships, but I recommend starting with these sites:
- Fastweb: Fastweb is considered to be the premier scholarship website with over 1 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.
- GoodCall: Another great resource, SchoolSoup can match you to scholarships you may be eligible for. The site has over 250,000 scholarships.
- Unigo: This website lists over 3.6 million scholarships worth over $14 million.
Also, take a look at our extensive list of outside scholarships available on our Admissions website. Click the “Helpful Resources” tab on the left-hand side.
3. Write One Good Essay
Obviously, you’re going to need to write more than just one essay when applying for scholarships, but you will likely be able to use certain parts of an essay more than once. Have the basics – your career goals, personal statement, and academic career thus far – perfected, as you will likely use that information repeatedly. These essays could determine whether or not you’re awarded a great deal of money, so it’s worth spending time on them to make sure you present yourself well.
4. Put the Time In
The internet can be both a blessing and a curse. There’s a wealth of information available right at your fingertips, but there are also countless distractions that can quickly take you down the rabbit hole. Before you know it, you’ve spent two hours taking BuzzFeed quizzes and not doing what you intended to do. Treat applying for college scholarships as though it was your job – try spending an hour each day or at least several hours a week searching and applying for scholarships. That time could be the difference in receiving thousands of dollars in scholarships.
When I first began working for Enrollment, our Student Finance office told us the story of a student whose entire first year of college was paid with scholarships. She dedicated herself to applying for 1,000 scholarships, which is just amazing. That may be an unrealistic goal for many of you, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and set your sights high.
5. Don’t Get Scammed
Unfortunately, there are people out there that try to take advantage of students looking for ways to afford college. Always be careful about the information you give out, and there’s no reason you should ever pay for access to a database of scholarships or to apply for a scholarship. Only apply for scholarships from organizations and websites you trust, and a good rule to follow is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. (If you believe you’ve been a victim of scholarship fraud, immediately contact the California Attorney General’s office at 800-952-5225.)
At PUC, we have several financial counselors ready to help if you have questions about scholarships and how to make college affordable for your family. Call (800) 862-7080, option 1 or email email@example.com to get connected with a counselor today.
Editor’s note: This is dated material and does not necessarily reflect how the student financial services office at PUC and the financial process currently operates. Please contact your financial counselor for more information.