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Financial Aid: Applying for Scholarships

Get Prepared

Preparation is key to success! Applying for scholarships can be a slow process, so allow yourself plenty of time. The more you prepare, the quicker and less stressful the process will be.

  • Gather your resume, standardized test scores, financial information and official grade transcripts. To get your SUS (Sullivan University, SCTD or Spencerian) grade transcript, go to the Student Portal. Select "My Degree Audit," check for accuracy and take care of any incompletes. Next, click on "Transcript Request" for an official transcript. Please note that any holds on student accounts will have to be resolved before an official transcript can be sent. Make plenty of copies of these documents!
  • Apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Many scholarships are based on merit or other factors, but can still require a FAFSA for consideration.
  • Consider creating a separate email account for this process. It will help with organizing information (expect to recieve a large volume of mailings). Be sure to choose a professional looking email address for this project.
  • Clean up any inappropriate or potentially offensive content from your social media accounts.
  • Join professional organizations. This will pay off in a big way.
    • Professional organizations often offer financial aid to students.
    • They provide students with valuable mentoring, networking and leadership skill building opportunities.
    • They provide students with current information about their career fields.
    • Sign up for the professional organization's newsletter and social media sites. Watch for scholarship announcements and other important information.
  • Prepare for your essays. Start thinking about how to promote yourself.
    • Accomplishments
    • Volunteer work, extra-curricular activities or community service
    • Why you selected this field of study/career
    • Motivations
    • Goals
    • Last but not least: why are YOU the best choice?
  • Gather your references.
    • Approach your instructors, advisors, supervisors or anyone else who knows you and your work.
    • Don't ask family or friends to be your reference.
    • Get a wide variety of references. This way you can choose the best references depending on the type of scholarships you are applying for.
  • Scan scholarship requirements.
    • You can get guidance and ideas of what kind of professional organization memberships, committee work, extra-curricular activities are wanted.
    • Use these tips to work toward an optimal work background and network in order to stand out when applying for scholarships. You will have plenty to highlight during the application process.
  • Get a good, professional looking photograph taken. Many applications require a photo.
  • Keep up a positive attitude. Establish realistic expectations as this will not be a quick process, and you may not be awarded all the scholarships you apply for. Look at it this way. This is a great way to practice promoting yourself, and will in turn make your job search in the future much easier.

Applying for Scholarships

Preparation is key. Read the tips in the box to the left, allow plenty of time.

  • Use more than one resource when looking for scholarships.
    • Consider using print resources. When using online resources, it is easy to miss many scholarships due to narrowing your search too much.
    • Use more than one online resource.
    • See the list of resources under "Finding Resources" tab.
  • Read over all the eligibility requirements.
  • If the application is online, print it out to fill out first.
    • Answer ALL questions, event he optional ones.
    • Have someone proofread your answers.
  • Submit your application BY THE DEADLINE.
    • Submit it early if you can. Submitting it on the due date can be difficult if there are server problems, etc.
    • It may look good to the scholarship committee to see an early application. It definitely will look BAD for those applications that are submitted after the deadline!
  • Make a checklist of materials you must submit, and make sure they are in the required format. See the "Scholarship Application Checklist" to the right.
  • Write your essay.
    • Don't dread this step. You have plenty of talents and skills to highlight!
    • Once you have a solid essay, keep a copy of it. Use this as a foundation for customization for other applications.
    • See the details under "Writing the Scholarship Essay" tab.
  • Keep copies of all submissions.
  • References
    • Give your reference several weeks to work on their letter. The longer they have, the better the letter will be.
    • A rule of thumb is to give the reference a deadline of two weeks prior of the application deadline. You don't want to lose out on a scholarship because a reference was submitted late.
    • Supply your reference with information about your work and background. Give them your resume, personal statement and grade transcripts.
    • Make sure to check with your reference regarding their current title and contact information.
    • Supply scholarship information so your reference knows what to focus on while writing the reference.
    • Follow up with your reference at least two weeks before submission, and remind him or her of the reference letter if needed. If it appears the reference cannot come through, you still have some time to contact someone else to do it.
    • Send thank-you notes.
    • See: https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-scholarship-coach/2011/02/24/ask-early-and-nicely-for-letters-of-recommendation for more information about references.

SlugBooks Ultimate Guide

Scholarship Application Checklist

Here is a handy checklist to help stay organized when applying for scholarships.

  • Name of Scholarship
  • Company/Organization offering the scholarship
  • Due date
  • Amount being offered
  • Number of references needed
  • Work Reference?
  • Personal Reference?
  • School Reference?
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Dates when you need letters of recommendation back
  • Proof of your Identification
  • Tax records on file
  • FAFSA information
  • Official Transcript and/or Unofficial Transcript
  • Essay
  • How to send the completed application (mail?  Email?)
  • Contact person mailing address, email or phone number
  • Address or Email address where the application needed to be sent
  • When completed application was sent
  • Expected time you will hear whether you got the scholarship
  • Don't forget to document and copy everything!