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How to Apply for Scholarships

Applying for colleges cannot be taken lightly. Instead of something to do in your spare time, seeking out scholarships should be treated like a job. Start with as many possible scholarships as possible and narrow it down to those for which you meet all the requirements. Then set aside time each day to write essays, gather documentation, fill out applications, and determine the qualities and achievements that are most likely to get you the funding you need. In truth, there are no magic tricks to getting scholarships. The only thing you need to do is to follow directions carefully, meet all deadlines, and use your common sense. Here is everything you need to know about how to apply for scholarships:

Tip #1 – Meet All Deadlines

Once you decide which scholarships you would like to apply for, mark all due dates clearly on a calendar. Start working on applications immediately and set aside a specific time each day that is solely dedicated to your scholarship application efforts. Read through the requirements for each scholarship so you can be sure you allow enough time to write essays, gather letters of reference, and get paperwork together. If an application is received after the deadline, you will not even be considered for a scholarship.

Tip #2 – Start Looking Early

One of the most important steps in how to apply for scholarships is selecting the right opportunities for you. Start as early as possible, even as early as your freshman year of high school, to find the best possible scholarships for which you qualify. Set up a filing system to keep all of your scholarship leads and applications within easy reach.

Tip #3 – Carefully Read Requirements

Read all scholarship requirements carefully. If you are unsure if you qualify to receive a certain scholarship, don’t hesitate to contact the sponsor. The many steps of how to apply for scholarships can be extremely complicated and time-consuming. Don’t waste your valuable time applying for funds that you are not eligible to receive.

Tip #4 – Organize Your Materials

Organization is one of the key factors in how to apply for scholarships. Create a unique file folder for each scholarship and file them by due dates. Most scholarships will ask for the same materials such as transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, the FAFSA and other financial aid forms, tax forms and other financial documents, letters of recommendation, and essays. Make multiple copies of these documents so they will be easily accessible when you start assembling application packets.

Tip #5 – Follow Directions

Most scholarship committees will immediately discard any applications that do not follow directions. When completing the steps of how to apply for scholarships, make sure you stick to the letter of all directions. Keep essays to the word limit and make sure they are properly formatted. Include all requested documents. You may include extra documentation if it truly shows your suitability for the scholarship, but limit the addition of unrequested materials.

Tip #6 – Double Check Everything

Before you submit your application, double check to ensure that you completed every section. Make sure your writing is clear and legible. If you are reusing cover letters, essays, or other materials, carefully check to ensure that you have corrected all names and dates. Check application and all other materials for grammar and spelling errors. If possible, have someone else proofread as well. Make sure to sign and date everything.

Tip #7 – Keep Good Records

Once you have completed all the steps of how to apply for scholarships, make sure to copy everything and assemble a copy of the application packet for your records. By doing this, you can make sure you are ready to quickly resend the materials if they become lost in the mail. In addition, save all electronic documents in a protected file on your computer. Finally, use certified mail or a return receipt for applications sent through regular mail. This will allow you to easily check to make sure your applications arrived safely.

Although it may seem confusing, the steps of how to apply for scholarships are quite simple. The key is to stay organized and pay attention to detail. By looking at the process as a job, you will greatly increase your chances of getting the funding you need.

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