What you need to know about scholarships

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 With the skyrocketing costs of higher education, parents and students are finding it harder and harder to pay for college. While we all know about student loans and grants, scholarships are becoming more and more popular.

I live in a very small rural community.  I was at Honors Day last year and our high school handed out $332,000 in scholarships.  My mind was blown.  Since I have a daughter that will be entering college soon, I have been looking at scholarships as a way to fund her college education.

The first place to look for scholarships is right at your school, most likely in your high school counselor's office. I know the counselor at my daughter's high school emails all students and parents a list of scholarships available to the students.  Local business, civic clubs, and past graduating classes are just a few of the local scholarships that are available.

Each scholarship has different requirements, but most want specific information, references, and an essay on a given topic.  Make sure you follow the format that is listed.  Your references should be contacted before you use them on your scholarship. You certainly don't want to lose out because your reference does not know much about you, yet you listed them.  So, make sure you have permission from that person.  I suggest setting up a quick meeting or phone call to discuss  and having your "high school resume' " for valid talking points.

Many scholarships are based on financial need, so be ready to discuss that.  You will also need your grade point average(GPA). You HAVE to have a letter of acceptance in order to actually receive most scholarships. You can get all of this information from your high school counselor or graduation coach. You will also need recommendations for most scholarships, so set up a meeting and take that resume' and make sure your reference is covering all the info you need.

You can find many scholarships online.  I will discuss a few.  Danny Errico has a scholarship for $10,000.  That is a lot of money to further your education.  One of the requirements is to make a video.  I want to urge the importance of reading the requirements of each scholarship and following directions precisely.  If an essay is part of your application, have a teacher proofread it for you for content, spelling, grammar, sentence structure and punctuation.  You do not want to hand in an incomplete or error filled essay.

One of the scholarships tha most aligns with my life is from Siblings of Autism.  I have a son with autism, so I think this would be a great scholarship for my daughter.  The winner gets $10,000 and there is one $5000, and five $1000 winners.  A lot of scholarships have this type of staggered levels of winning.

There are many resources for finding scholarships.  Use Google to help you find the one that is right for you.  But, I think the most important place to start is with your high school or the college you will be attending.

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