November 1st kicks off the National Scholarship Month referred to by the National Scholarship Providers Association as a time to raise awareness of scholarship opportunities for current and future college students. It is no coincidence that November is also the recommended time to start researching and applying for scholarships for the next fall semester. In fact, National Scholarship Month changed from May to November in 2008 to coincide with the application season.
Some Stats on National Scholarship Month
According to a 2016 study by Sallie Mae, scholarships and grants funded 34 percent of college costs, up from 30 percent in 2014-15. The average amount families spent on college in 2015-16 was $23,688, slightly less than in 2014-15. Meanwhile, families took proactive steps to make college more affordable. Ninety-eight percent of families took some action, with most taking five or more actions. Affordability actions taken by students included:
- Working (77%)
- Reducing personal spending (62%)
- Living at home (49%)
- Earning a degree in a shorter period of time than their program typically takes (27%)
In addition, 85 percent of families filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and 80 percent of students were enrolled in a college in their home state, which helps reduce costs.
Resources That Can Help You in National Scholarship Month
Scholarships could be the answer for hundreds of thousands of students everywhere. However, it is important that students know where to look for them. The internet is a place you can find great resources during the application process. The following is a list of some of the best free scholarship databases online:
- FastWeb Scholarship Search – features 1.5 million scholarships and email notifications of scholarships relevant to you
- College Board’s FUND FINDER – features scholarships and other financial aid programs totaling nearly $6 billion
- Scholarships.com LLC – features over 3.7 million college scholarships & grants worth around $19 billion
- Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search – features more than 5 million college scholarships worth up to $24 billion
- GoodCall – Over 6,500 awards available with the total scholarships funds at $15 million
Other Resources & Tips
It is important that students are creative during their scholarship search and look outside of the internet. Aside from college financial aid offices, students can look to their local communities and organizations as well as their professional associations. They should also consider talents aside from their academic successes, such as athletics, art, music, and hobbies.
Here are some more tips to consider when applying for scholarships:
- Start early. Start the scholarship search and application process as early as possible. There are scholarship programs available for early high school students.
- Apply, apply, apply. The more scholarships you apply for, the more likely you are to receive one. Apply for as many scholarships as possible that are relevant to you. Don’t overlook any opportunities.
- Avoid application fees. Ask the Admission office if there are any fee waivers available.
- Proofread. Many committees will not consider applications with major errors in an effort to eliminate candidates in a sea of applicants. Also, be sure you have fulfilled all of the requirements of the application.