Applying for College Scholarships

Scholarships can make a significant impact in helping cover college costs. In this webinar, learn key scholarship facts, how to use online search engines to find scholarships, and plenty of helpful tips to use in your search. Also learn how scholarships fit into the larger financial aid picture.

Download the webinar slides to follow along. 


Please note that this transcript was auto-generated. We apologize for any minor errors in spelling or grammar.

We will also be sharing the slides with everyone as well.

So a little bit about MIFA. So MIFA is a state authority that was created by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1982. Actually a group of Colleges and universities in Massachusetts went to the state legislature and asked them to create a body to help provide low cost loans to Massachusetts families.

Since then we've expanded and we, above and beyond providing low cost student loans, we help families plan, save, and pay for college. We have savings plans and we offer A lot of advice for families on paying for college. So what are we going to talk about tonight? We'll talk about what are scholarships where to look for scholarships some online search engines Some tips for finding scholarships and a little bit about the financial aid process in general

So first of all, what are, um, scholarships? So scholarships are funds that help students pay for college that you don't have to pay back. So student loans are things that you have to pay back, but scholarships are funding for college that does not need to be paid back. And, um, they're usually given to students.

Um, and they are usually sent either to the school that the student is going to, and co branded to the school and the student in both names, so that the student has to, um, sign off on that. Or there are some scholarships that send that directly to the student as well. So there are different ways that those funds get paid to the student.

Um, and usually scholarships are given in recognition of certain attributes of the student, such as good grades, community service, leadership, different activities that a student may be involved in. Um, for example, chorus, drama, things like that. So there are all different types of scholarships out there.

There are a lot of them that are given by community organizations, local organizations, nonprofits, corporations, foundations. There are a lot of different scholarships available both locally and nationwide. And there are a lot of scholarships out there. that are for unusual things as well. So we'll be talking a little bit about, um, different ways to look for scholarships and how to find ones that, um, you may not have known that are out there.

And they can make a significant impact on helping cover college costs. There's a lot of money out there in scholarships and a lot that go, um, without finding recipients every year. So, um, it's important to try to take some time and apply for those scholarships. Some of them do require a little bit more work to apply for them.

They may require things like essays, um, or a little bit more information to be sent out, um, in order to apply for those scholarships. Most times the scholarships are well worth taking the time to fill out the application. If a student spends a couple hours, um, filling out a scholarship application, usually If they send out enough of those applications, they end up netting a lot more money than they would if they were putting that time and effort into a job.

Um, if you get a, send out a few applications that takes you a few hours and you get a couple thousand dollars in scholarships, it's going to be really hard to get a job that would make about a thousand dollars an hour if you spend a couple hours on those things. So it really can pay off to spend some time on those scholarship applications.

The typical high school senior will match with about 50 to 100 scholarships in a search engine when you're going online for these national searches and how these national searches work. And we'll be talking about what some of those are. If you enter in some information. about, um, the major that you're looking to, um, apply into in college, what your interests were in high school, what, um, different extracurricular activities you went into, what some hobbies are, what your background is, and they match that up with different scholarships that may have, those as the criteria for the scholarships, and like I said before, There's a lot of unclaimed money in scholarships.

It's about a hundred and a million dollars in unclaimed scholarships in the U. S. because there aren't enough qualified applicants. So it's worth taking the time to see what's out there and see what you might match with.

So some questions to help shape your scholarship search. You want to look out there what your hobbies are, your major again, um, what your interests are, different organizations, different volunteer things that you have done, um, different things about you and your family as well. If there are different ethnicities, um, what your employer is, military service, the state of residency, all of those things, special talents, cultural background, family heritage.

You want to put all of that into these search engines when they're looking at, um, how to match you up with scholarships, and that will give you the biggest group of scholarships that you can apply for. I always recommend that if you have any really unique interests, that there aren't a lot of people, um, that do that.

For example, if you're in the band and you play The Sousaphone, which is an unusual instrument that not everyone plays. There are scholarships out there for just people who play Sousaphones, probably. So there are all kinds of, um, unusual scholarships like that. So anything unique about you that you can outline?

Put that in as interest, and there may be scholarships that you match with. And when you look at that hundred million that goes unmatched, um, those are usually for those more unique scholarships, that they can't find someone that fits into that category. So, if you fit into an unusual category, see if there's a scholarship for it.

You might be surprised as to what those scholarships are. Um, do you or anyone in your family live with a disability or health challenge? There are often scholarships that help with that, not for just the student themselves, but if there are family members that have those kind of challenges. Um, military work for parents, even grandparents that were in the military, oftentimes there are some scholarship opportunities as well.

Also check with, um, where the parents work. There may be some scholarships available for employees at your employer where your parents work or even where the students work. Sometimes if a student works at a certain employer, they offer scholarship benefits to their students as well. So you want to look at all of those different avenues.

So where do you look for scholarships? The first place I'd recommend that you look is with your high school guidance office. Those are the scholarships that are most local to the student and the student will probably be working with the smallest pool of applicants. So they'll just be working with against other local students to try to apply for those scholarships.

There are some scholarships from large corporations that you're applying for. Against thousands and thousands of students nationwide, but usually the ones in your local guidance office. You're just applying against other students in your local area. So those are the best place for you to start. Um, and many guidance offices will post their scholarships on their online portal such as MIFA Pathway, um, Naviance if you use those two.

They may also just have a bulletin board with some scholarships listed, listed there as well. So check out all of those different options for you. Also at work, again, check your Parents place of work. The students place of work to see if they have scholarships for employees and see what availability they have for those in check.

Usually, if there is a human resources office, you can check with them. They often have. List of scholarships that would be available. Also any professional associations. Um, if the student is planning to go into a major that has a professional association related to it, um, check into those to see if there might be, um, Um, A scholarship that's related to those fields.

There are a lot of scholarships available, um, to students going into the STEM field. So if they're going to sciences, um, math fields, there are often a lot of scholarships for those careers. Also local organizations, for example, the Elks Rotary Club, PTAs, anything that you may volunteer at, um, local churches.

Check those out to see if they have scholarships available as well. We have a blog at MIFA. org slash blog that lists a lot of different scholarships and we have scholarships with March deadlines against scholarships for STEM students. Scholarships for students with disabilities. If you're studying abroad, there's some scholarship opportunities for people studying abroad.

Um, going green scholarships for environmentally friendly students. So students that have done some work volunteering, um, doing things for the environment, there may be some scholarships for that. If you look at the scholarships category org. There are a lot of different blogs on, um, Different scholarships that may be available and we try to post new ones when we do learn about those as well there are a lot of online search engines that You can look at to try to find Scholarships nationwide and they usually filter by specific criteria.

Like I said before you enter enter information about your different interests your major Um, and that tries to match you out. To get the most out of those scholarship databases, you want to create an account. Um, although it might be a little bit more work up front, it'll be easier in the long run since you don't have to re enter information for every application.

It can, for some of these scholarship applications, you can, um, just enter that information once, and it will, populate that information for other scholarship applications and make that a little bit easier for you. You also won't have to re add information about your interests, your major, you have to keep re entering that every time you look or go back into look when you create an account.

But you will be able to add to that list if you think of more interests, To add to that to see if there are additional scholarships that may be available for you. So what are some of the online search engines available? Um, there is the MIFA pathway And jennifer works really closely with the MIFA pathway And that has a lot of Scholarship opportunities right in there.

And if you go to MiphaPathway. org, you can register for an account right there. If your high school already uses MiphaPathway as a portal, you may already have a Mipha, Mipha, MiphaPathway account and you can log in with that. And search for scholarships, and you can look for those by state of residence, area of study, ethnicity, type of school, religion, make a personalized list, and search for over 5, 000 national scholarships on there.

And that's free to use. You can register and get a free account at MIFAPathway. org to access the scholarships in that database. There's also a national search engine called FastWeb, and that was founded over 25 years ago, so they have a huge repository of scholarships. There are 1. 5 million scholarships in their database, and each scholarship is vetted by a real person, so they are checked to make sure that they are, um, actual real scholarships, and you can You must become a free member to access the scholarships, and it will tell you the application instructions once you match with a scholarship.

And again, those, you want to match your scholarships based on your location, your majors. Your academics, extracurricular activities, the colleges that you go to, and it will try to match you up with, with, um, the scholarships they have available. And again, the tip is, if you have anything really unique about yourself, this is where you want to put that.

Um, see, there's also bold. org, which is a streamlined, secured service that matches you to sc Scholarships based on your profile and you create a profile that showcases all of your different abilities and then Bold. org has some exclusive Bold. org scholarships that can only be found there So that's another place you can set up Profile and start applying for scholarships.

There's also a big future which is owned by the college board. You may be Familiar with the college board from the sats or from filling out a css profile They have a personalized list of scholarships again based on background achievement future plans You can save time on your applications by using They're autofill available function.

So you can fill out, um, part of the application as autofill and save that, and then you can fill that out on, um, several of the different scholarships and that will really save time for you when you're filling out a bunch of different scholarships. It would, it's a good practice that when you are filling out scholarship applications, um, some of them will ask you for essays.

And sometimes you can reuse some of those essays in several scholarships. They may be asking for different questions, but sometimes you can rework that just a little bit and reuse that essay so you're not just taking the time to create an essay that you're using for just one scholarship. You may be able to reuse that for several.

There's also um, Raise. me and this allows you to earn scholarships by completing tasks such as getting A's, taking AP classes. babysitting a younger sibling. So you set up an account on there and then you cash in what are called credits, scholarship credits, and you receive money from a college once you apply for the college.

So there are only certain colleges that, um, do participate with this Raise. me. There are about 200 that participate. And the scholarships are anywhere from 25 to 2, 000. When you set up that profile, you can see which colleges are available there. Um, and if that's one of the colleges that you plan to go to, you would choose that college, and then you can see what the different tasks are that you can complete there.

You can check off those boxes, um, saying that you've completed that, and once you've done that, the scholarship Amount will be revealed to you and the college will be notified as well. So tips to finding scholarships You want to start that search early. So private scholarships are open up. Sometimes the children as young as five years old, so you don't always have to wait until your senior of high school to start looking.

So if you are already near senior of high school, you can still look. There are a lot of scholarships that are still available, especially this year where the FAFSA process has been delayed quite quite a bit. Some of those deadlines are getting extended on the scholarships this year. But if you are here learning about the private scholarship.

Search for a student that's in the senior, but you have younger Children as well. Just be aware that you could start searching for these scholarships when a student is very young, and there's some available to students, um, when they are much younger for some of the things that they may have done when they are earlier in their, um.

Their career, um, school career. So you can read, we have a blog post on scholarships for elementary and middle school students, and you can read a little bit about those. And that's usually for, um, academic. Achievements or extracurricular achievements that students have both in elementary and middle school students.

So the their achievements early on in in their academic career can really help them out in their future. You want to stay organized, um, as you find the private scholarships you apply for. Keep a running list of deadlines, the scholarship amounts, and the requirements. It might be good to have a spreadsheet that shows what the different deadlines are, what the amounts are, and the requirements.

Once you get That list that shows the different deadlines in the scholarship amounts. You may want to prioritize those By the ones that have the highest amount you might want to apply for those first to see if um, you do qualify for that, but keep uh Always keep track of the deadlines as well So you're not missing any of those deadlines when you are doing that prioritizing um, and you want to easily reference that you can update including call code the scholarship websites If you've received that prize, what is required to apply?

Do they require an essay? If they do require an essay, what's the subject of the essay? Um, what do they require for other documentation? Some may require information about the FAFSA. Some may require, um, information about their grades. You might have to, um, Give them more information from your schools as well.

So just check where all that information is and make sure that you are providing as much information as you can to Meet those criteria try to set a weekly goal. Look at this as a part time job Um, it can really pay off in quite a large way towards helping to pay for college sometimes Even more than you could afford for by working in a, in a weekly job.

When I was, um, a senior in high school, I did work a part time job and back then you weren't earning very much. But, um, in addition to that, I applied for a lot of scholarships. I was very lucky that I applied for some local scholarships. And I received an 8, 000 a year scholarship that was renewable, um, to go to college, which was a lot of money back then.

Um, we're talking, um, over 30 years ago. So that, that was a really healthy scholarship, and I was really lucky to receive that every year. But I, you know, I applied for a lot of scholarships and was very grateful to receive that scholarship. So if you set a weekly goal to apply for a certain number of scholarships, it really can, um, come back and benefit you in the long run.

And a lot of students also shy away from scholarships that require an essay, um, because I think it's going to take A lot more time than those shorter applications, but realize that since a lot of students may be shying away for that app from applying for those that require an essay, you're competing against the smaller.

pool of students because other students are avoiding writing that essay. Um, so try to apply for those ones that require an essay. Less students apply for those, you have a smaller pool of applicants and it increases your chance of winning. If you're really good at writing essays, this is a great opportunity for you.

If you have some strong writing skills, apply for all those scholarships that require an essay. Those may, um, Really come back to get you some good returns look for scholarships related to your favorite activities and realize these aren't just for Activities that you are doing in school. They may be things that you're doing in the community.

They may just be interest that you have Hobbies that you have music art clubs all of those different interests that you have there may be scholarships out there there there are scholarships for things like knitting for, um, things that you would never think someone's going to have a scholarship for.

There may be a scholarship out there for that. So please enter in when you're doing these searches all of the unique things that you may be interested in. You may be surprised what the scholarships are. A lot of people just equivalent, equivalent, just don't think that there are scholarships for your grades, sports, things you do in school, but there are also scholarships out there for a lot of different interests and activities that you may be involved in as well.

You also want to take a look and think about what your social online profile looks like. Um, because there are agencies that are awarding scholarships out there. They may just do a quick search on your name on social media and take a look and see how. You present on social media, um, just to see a little bit more about yourself.

They may just want to, you know, see if they can find out any information about you. So you want to make sure that what you're presenting on social media, and this is good for not just scholarships, but for the admissions process in general, to make sure that you, you appear professional, mature, remove any material from there that doesn't really represent your best self.

You don't want to, um, put a profile out there that That just wouldn't be favorable to someone that wants to give out some scholarship money. So just think about that, um, when you're setting up your social profile. Um, make sure anything that's public facing is, is a professional. Also never pay a fee for a scholarship search.

Um, you may end up somehow on different mailing lists and receive emails saying that they're going to guarantee a scholarship for you if you pay them a small fee. Those are always scams. Never, um, pay a fee for a guaranteed scholarship. Those are always going to be scams. Scholarships are in the business of trying to give money out to students.

They're not going to ask. Um, for a fee to apply for a scholarship, so please avoid any of those. Um, there are plenty of free online search engines, um, all of those companies that say that they are going to match you and guarantee you a scholarship if you give them a 50 fee are not legitimate, so please try to avoid those.

Also, be cautious. Of applications that require really detailed personal information. For example, so security number, um, things like that. You don't want to share any personally identifiable information about yourself. on the internet. Um, and so most, most scholarships will be just asking your name, um, the school that you're going to, your high school, and things about your, your interests and activities.

They shouldn't be asking for personally identifiable information. And like I said about, you sometimes end up on mailing lists and things like that. A lot of companies that claim to offer scholarships are just trying to get student information for marketing purposes. So if you think that they're asking for too much personal information, um, you can just shy away from those scholarships.

So let's talk about financial aid in general. So most students receive The bulk of their college cost help from financial aid. Um, you want to submit your FAFSA and any other required financial aid applications on time. Deadlines this year are a little bit different because the FAFSA was delayed.

Usually it's available in October. It became available in January. Um, there are still some delays to delivering that information to schools. So families are still waiting for their FAFSA summaries if they filed that already. But there is still time to file the FAFSA if you haven't already. Um, so please check with the deadlines at your school, fill up the FAFSA.

Majority of aid also comes from the college themselves. So make sure that you're checking with the colleges as well to see if they have any scholarships that are available. And sometimes those scholarships from the school is available. Do require a separate application from the FAFSA. So you may be applying for financial aid, but they may also have additional scholarship applications that are available.

So check in on their website and see if there are any that require an additional application above and beyond the FAFSA for that. And applying for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA, you're eligible for federal, state, and college. What's called institutional funds from the colleges. So you're hitting all three of those by filling out the FAFSA.

So it's important to file the free application for federal student aid, which is called the FAFSA if you haven't already.

Once you do receive a private scholarship, you do have to alert the financial aid office at each college that you've applied, and they will, um, take a look at that scholarship and see how that works within your financial aid, um, package. So if you have received, uh, A financial aid package from the school.

Um, they're going to take a look at that to see if you have any what's called unmet need. And what unmet need means is that the cost of education less the student aid index equals your need. And then your need. minus your financial aid would be any unmet need that you have. So if there's unmet need in there, usually they just allow that scholarship to be added onto the financial aid that you already have.

If you don't have any unmet need, if they've met the full need for you, they may reduce, um, some of your other financial aid, but most schools start with reducing loan burden to the student and then we'll Reduce any type of institutional. scholarship money that they they've given you. Um, so there may be a case where some of that aid may be reduced, but most schools try to reduce loan money first and apply that towards any unmet need.

And the financial aid office will work with you to maximize the amount that you can receive in private scholarships. without affecting your financial aid. And if you have questions, contact your financial aid office and just talk to them about that. If you think that a scholarship has reduced some of your other aid, talk to them about why that happened and see if, um, there's anything they can do to help you with that.

But in most cases, private scholarships, Can be added to the financial aid award as well. Sean, can I interrupt for a half a second here? Sure. We have a really good question. I think it's pretty common. Okay. So the question is, if we're not receiving aid, do we still have to notify the school? So if you're not receiving an outside scholarship, do you notify the school?

If they're not receiving federal aid. Do we still have to notify the college? You should still notify the school that you're receiving a scholarship, even if you're not applying for any type of other aid, um, because some of them just have a process that they have to go to in order for that scholarship to be, um, attached to the student's bill.

So just so that they can deduct that from the bill properly and all the channels are, are, um, set and in place, you should always. Just let the financial aid office know about any outside scholarships, even if you're not receiving aid. Okay, great. Thank you. No, a lot of people ask that. Thank you.

Okay. And, um, here's some information about how to connect with us on social media and we'll see if there are any other questions. Jennifer, were there other questions that we want to go through that were answered behind the scenes? Yeah, I answered a bunch, but I mean, here's one that just came in. Um, do scholarships get paid to the school or to the students?

That's probably, yeah, it depends. So some scholarships will send a check directly to the student and some will send that to, um, directly to the school and it will be in both the student's name and the school's name. So the students usually asked to go and endorse that check, um, so that it can be applied to their account, but some send them directly to the student.

So that yeah. Varies from scholarship to scholarship. Um, I've seen them done both ways all the time.

Great. They don't have any outstanding questions.

Yes. So we will be emailing out a recording of the webinar as well as I'm sending out a copy of the slides to everyone in the next couple of days. So there's a question out there. If it's sent to you, are you taxed whether it's sent directly to you or if it's sent to the school, it's only taxed. if it is above the amount of tuition and fees.

So the school will send you, um, what's called a 1098 T that will show you the amount of taxable scholarships. Um, but in most cases scholarships end up not being taxable because you're not usually not receiving above those costs. And scholarships are typically received Usually, um, their deadlines are sometimes in March or April, and they usually send out funding in the summer around the same time billing is due, which is usually around July.

That's when they usually send the funds to the school and or the student. They try to keep that process in line when schools are billing. Um, it's also important that some scholarships aren't sending out the checks right when a bill is due So you can sometimes just send a copy of the letter that you receive that you've been awarded a scholarship to The bursar's office letting them know that you've received a scholarship and they will be able to um, Delay that payment until the scholarship check comes through as well

Thank you. Are there any other questions?

I think we're pretty good. I'm just answering one here.

So most, like I said, most deadlines are in March or April. There are some other scholarships that have different deadlines. And usually, a lot of scholarships end up sending out their notifications, especially the ones through local guidance offices, around graduation time for students. That's when a lot of them send out their notifications.

But they do all send out notifications at different times. Um, so you may be ex Expect some of those not to come out until May, but others may continue to roll out through the summer, especially this year, where the fastest delayed a bit. Some of those scholarship, um, notifications may be delayed as well.

Thank you all. And we'll be sending out the information, um, with the recording and the slides within the next few days. Thank you and have a great night.

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