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How to Apply for Scholarships

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How to Apply for Scholarships

If you’d like to continue your education after high school, scholarships can help you offset the costs. A scholarship is a form of gift aid that does not have to be repaid as long as the award winner follows the regulations of the scholarship. There are millions of scholarships available for students with all types of grades, backgrounds and interests.

“An education is a valued asset, and there are many ways to help you finance your educational aspirations,” says Alexandra DeJesus, a director of financial aid at Universal Technical Institute (UTI). “Searching for and applying for scholarships is a good way to start. There is a scholarship for almost anything you can imagine. All it takes is a little time and effort. Chances are there is at least one scholarship out there that you are eligible for.” 10

Since you can apply for as many as you want, you have nothing to lose in a scholarship search. Use this guide as you navigate scholarships for school.

What Kinds of Scholarships Are Available?

If you can think of a hobby, vocational interest or unique quality you have, there might be a scholarship available for it. There are scholarships for vegetarians, potato researchers, zombie fans and many others. Scholarship awards typically can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

How Do I Find Scholarships?

If you are curious about how to find scholarships, an online search of reputable scholarship websites is a great place to start. Some sites that offer legitimate scholarships include:

  •, which has more than 3.7 million scholarships to search
  • Fastweb, which has a database of 1.5 million scholarships available to members
  • The U.S. Department of Labor's free scholarship search tool, which features more than 8,000 scholarship awards

You can use these websites to conduct keyword searches based on your activities, characteristics that define you, achievements you’ve made and interests you have.

“The internet has made it easy for students to find scholarships,” Alexandra says. “There are many different types of scholarships, from community service scholarships to First in Family scholarships to military scholarships and even scholarships for students with average grades. The first step is researching scholarships by type. However, keep in mind there are scholarship scams out there. If the website requires you to pay money to apply for awards, steer clear.”

If you’re interested in attending UTI, consider applying for scholarships from the TechForce Foundation, says Ted Groff, a director of financial aid at UTI. The TechForce Foundation awards more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants annually to aspiring technicians.

“Students who fill out an application with the TechForce Foundation will automatically be enrolled in the selection process for scholarships they qualify for,” Ted says.

When Do I Start Applying for Scholarships?

Scholarship deadlines vary, and some are only to be used for a certain period. For example, there may be scholarships for incoming new students, which means applicants would apply during their senior year of high school or the year before they plan to attend post-secondary school. Other scholarships are awarded on an ongoing basis, so the application periods are continuous. Check the requirements of each one.

Additionally, some scholarship awards may depend on or be influenced by applicants’ financial need. Some scholarship award organizations may require students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form before applying. The earliest you can fill out this form for the upcoming school year is October 1.

How Do I Apply for Scholarships?

Each scholarship can have different requirements. It’s crucial to pay attention to instructions, because missing information or not following instructions may result in the candidate being disqualified from consideration.

Do All Scholarships Require an Essay?

No. Most scholarships require an essay, but some do not. Pay attention to the directions for each particular scholarship. If required, submit an essay tailored to the directions and purpose of each scholarship.

Are There Scholarships for Adults Returning to School?

Yes, there are many. You can find some here on

How Do I Get My Scholarship Money?

How you receive your scholarship money varies depending on the scholarship. Some scholarships, like those sponsored by schools, will pay money directly toward tuition and fees. If allowed by rules of the scholarship, the recipient gets any leftover funds in a check .

With other scholarships, like some sponsored by community organizations, you will receive a check and be able to spend the money how you please. Get clarification by looking at the guidelines for every scholarship you’re applying for.

How Does a Scholarship Affect Additional Student Aid?

How much you’re awarded in scholarships can affect how much federal financial aid you receive. According to the College Board, you must report any scholarships you receive to your school’s financial aid office. If the total aid you receive is more than your calculated need for financial assistance, your school may reduce the amount of need-based financial aid you are awarded through aid such as grants.

If you fail to report scholarships you are awarded, you might receive an “overaward,” which will result in you having to pay back the money. Some schools may be able to apply your award to the next semester, or reduce your loan amount and apply scholarship dollars instead.

Can I Apply for Scholarships if I’m Already in Trade School or College?

It depends on the scholarship requirements. Some scholarships may restrict applicants to only those who are entering post-secondary school, while other scholarships may allow anyone to apply at any time.

What’s the Best Strategy to Receive a Scholarship?

Author Ramit Sethi, who received more than $100,000 in college scholarship money, has some tips for how you could receive scholarships:

  • Apply for as many scholarships as possible. The more scholarships you apply for, the better chance you have to receive awards.
  • Get great letters of recommendation. Provide those you’re asking to write letters (teachers, bosses, etc.) with a broad view of what you want them to highlight, key points to touch on, and your résumé so they have a basis for their comments.
  • Create stellar essays. Write in your own unique voice but keep it professional. Think about why you’re applying for that specific scholarship to help you put passion into your essay. Have someone proofread it for errors and provide feedback.

Before you submit the application, make sure you’re meeting the deadline and have included all required materials. Stay organized as you apply for scholarships by using a spreadsheet to track the scholarships you want, what’s required, deadlines and where you are in the application process.

Applying for multiple scholarships may seem daunting, but the payoff can be worth the effort, Ted says.

“The reward far exceeds the time it takes to fill out the application for any scholarship a student can apply for,” Ted says. “I always put it in the context of having a student job before school starts. If students look at it that way, they can make a lot more per hour then they ever will in most jobs.”

Ted continues, “Students typically take 20 to 30 minutes to fill out an application and may be awarded $500 to $1,500 in scholarship money. When you look at the return on investment, even if they only get one of four scholarships, they would still be making $250 to $750 for every hour of work. Given that return on investment, it is surprising to hear that many students do not take the time to fill out scholarships.”

Get Scholarship Help from UTI

Want advice for the best ways to find scholarships? Contact the UTI Scholarships Department at (800) 859-7249 or at You can also visit the department online to see dozens of scholarships that we recommend aspiring UTI students check out and apply for.


How to Fill Out a FAFSA

If you need any assistance while completing the FAFSA, we’re here to help. You can schedule an appointment with one of our Financial Aid Support Specialists by clicking below or by calling toll-free at (844)-338-0032.