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There are lots of misconceptions out there about scholarships. You might hear “scholarship” and think, “Well, I’m not a scholar, so why bother applying?” Many students mistakenly don’t apply because they are unsure how to get a scholarship with a low GPA.
The truth is, millions of scholarships are available across the country, and many don’t even take grades into account. Some scholarships are based on how involved applicants are with social justice. Others are based on creativity and artistry. Some are simply sweepstakes-based. Whatever you’re into, there’s probably a scholarship out there just waiting for you to apply for it!
“We had a student who wrote a paper on the zombie apocalypse and received a scholarship of $5,000,” says Alexandra DeJesus, a director of financial aid at Universal Technical Institute (UTI).
Let’s debunk some scholarship myths and show you what’s truly worth focusing on if you want to apply for scholarships for post-secondary school.
It really depends on the scholarship. It’s true some scholarships might require an A average, but others require a 2.5 GPA or have no GPA requirement at all.
Create a profile on a scholarship website (see our guide for recommended websites for scholarships), then browse scholarships that match your profile and check out GPA requirements. One scholarship those considering UTI might want to check out is from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which has a number of scholarships that can pay amounts up to the entire cost of tuition.10
In some cases, yes. Some scholarships, like those sponsored by a school, may apply scholarship money directly toward your tuition. You’ll “see the money” through the balance you actually owe for tuition fees.
With other scholarships, you’ll receive a check. You can use the money how you please to offset the costs of school.
It depends. Many scholarships do require essays, so the scholarship judges can get a sense of your character, why you’re attending school or what you hope to accomplish in your career. Or, the essay might be to judge how you relate to the individual or organization offering the scholarship.
According to Scholarships.com, what matters most with essays is how you follow directions and answer the essay question. Don’t turn in the same essay for multiple scholarships, and be sure to follow all directions (including meeting the word count) before you turn in the essay.
That depends on the applicant. If you take the advice of one student who won more than $100,000 in scholarship money, then yes, you could benefit from applying for as many scholarships as possible to increase your chances of receiving scholarships.
Think about a scenario like this: You could apply for five scholarships that offer tens of thousands of dollars in award money each. You end up competing against thousands of applicants for each scholarship, with a slim chance of receiving any of them. Or, you could apply for 20 smaller scholarships that really relate to your unique skills and personality. You receive a few of those because there is less competition, and you’ve earned more scholarship money.
As Scholarships.com points out, every dollar you earn in scholarship money does not have to be repaid, compared with every dollar in student loan money that will need to be paid back with interest. It’s up to you what is worth your time.
We’re going to sound like a broken record but the answer is, it depends. There are actually some scholarship donors who don’t limit the number of winners. So in that sense, no, they’re not too competitive because you might win just based on the quality of your application.
If you don’t apply, you don’t have a chance. Determine how much time you can devote to applying, then hone in on scholarships you feel you are most qualified to win.
You could also contact the scholarship office of any school you’re considering and ask how many applicants and winners they had the previous year to help you make your decision.
Ready for it? It depends. Some scholarships require multiple letters of recommendation, a personal essay, transcripts and more. Others just require that you type in your name and email address to be entered into a random drawing.
When you compare how much you make at an hourly job to how much you can make by filling out a scholarship application, the results could be well worth the effort.
“The reward far exceeds the time it takes to fill out the application for any scholarship a student can apply for,” explains Ted Groff, a financial aid director at UTI. “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 than 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.”
Looking into scholarships can be rewarding beyond receiving the awards. Ted shares some interesting stories about UTI students who searched for scholarships.
“We had a student write Monster Energy drink to see if they had a scholarship available, and the branch manager in Orlando, Florida, was so taken by the letter he asked the student to come to the main branch office,” Ted says. “He let the student know they did not have scholarships but was so taken by his letter, he gave the student a pallet of cases of Monster Energy drink.”
Ted continues, “We had a UTI Orlando student that came to UTI because he and his dad were restoring an old truck when his father passed away,
and the student wanted to learn enough to finish the truck. He wrote General Motors and told them his story, and they not only gave him a $2,000 scholarship, but they sent him a brand new engine in the crate
for his truck.”
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.
1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
10) Financial aid, scholarships and grants are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.
Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
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