Scholarships – What do I need to do?
When talking about Hispanics and Education, most times the picture we think about is not the best. We hear about the drop-out rates that are the highest of any race, we read about the lack of educational culture in our community, and on top of all that, we get overwhelmed with the lack of experience and information when it comes to paying for college.
But with the abundance and availability of information these days, students looking for financial aid should encounter many opportunities for scholarships that will help them pay for college.
If you are having trouble getting started with your scholarship research for any reason, here I will share some basic information to help you understand what the process is and what you are expected to provide.
First of all, Scholarships are free money that does not have to be paid back. Students have to apply for scholarships, which are awarded based on the student meeting certain criteria and the student’s merits.
Every scholarship that you apply for will have a set of requirements, which include an application for each that you will need to complete. But the good news is that almost all the scholarship will ask for some combination of the same things. It is a good idea to pull the following information and have it always handy as you apply for scholarships. Besides filling out all your personal information, you will need:
• One or two essays – Each scholarship will ask you to answer a question, which is an opportunity to for you to show why you deserve to be considered, what your merits are.
• Letter(s) of Recommendation – You will need one or more letters of recommendation from one of your teachers or councilors. That’s why it’s important to foster good relationships with teachers.
• Transcripts – These are the transcripts from your High School or college. Your school office should be able to answer your questions there.
• Parent and Student Tax Returns and W2 forms – You will be required to provide this information to estimate your financial need.
• Copy of Financial aid Letter – This is a letter provided to you after filing your FAFSA application that tells you your estimated need.
• Student Aid Report (SAR) – You will receive this document after filing your FAFSA which outlines how much your family is expected to contribute for the year.
• Miscellaneous – It is also a good idea to keep a personal statement (writing sample) handy, along with a GPA verification form and an Enrollment verification form.
Once you have gathered all these items, you are ready to start applying for scholarships. Notice though, that you will not have all your tax and other financial information handy to meet the earlier deadlines, but provide as much information as they require and you have available.
As far as additional requirements, some scholarships may require you to be a U.S. citizen, others to be a legal resident, and other may not ask of any of these prerequisites.
If you missed the last blog, below is a couple of links that you can visit for available scholarships you may apply for. Remember to apply to as many as you qualify for, and good luck.
Remember that you need to file your FAFSA application and you should do that as soon as you are able. Next blog, we will focus our attention on filling out the FAFSA application and some of the requisites for that. Filling out your FAFSA on time may guarantee that you get more government financial aid than if you wait until the last minute.
Is this information valuable to you? Are there any particular questions that you have? Share with us your experience for others to learn from you. We appreciate your contributions.