Once the stressful college application process is finished, it is time to stop putting it off. Yes, that, the massive list of scholarships BRACE advisor Christine Siwek helps to keep every senior updated on.
Every year, new classes of seniors vastly underestimate the power of the many, many scholarships available to them. Some may seem trivial or not worth the effort, but an extra, no-strings $2000 (yes, $2000) can prove to be immensely helpful in balancing the oncoming financial struggles that will accompany college life.
Though at first scholarships may seem overwhelming, especially due to the sheer amount of them that are available, they can be broken down into some basic categories to make the process seem easier.
The Big Scholarships
These are the programs all Florida students need to apply to. This includes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) and the CollegeBoard CSS Profile. Without applying to these scholarships, students are missing out on financial aid not just from the government and state, but also from the colleges they may be attending. They’re not particularly as rigorous as some other scholarships in this guide, and can all collectively be knocked out in around two hours. Though order doesn’t particularly matter on this list, these are the scholarships all students should fill out immediately.
Low Effort Scholarships
The process of applying for lower effort scholarships is usually similar to that of filling out college applications, minus the hefty load of personal essays. They range from something like the Burger King Scholars Program, where only basic, necessary information on financials, clubs and community service is required, to something like the I Have a Dream Scholarship, where a short response to a prompt is required, to even something as simple as filling out an eight-question quiz like for the American Fire Sprinkler Association College Scholarship Contest. Students can knock four or five of these scholarships out in an hour, meaning even a small window of downtime one has, whether it be in personalization period or at home, can be put to productive use.
High Effort, High Reward Scholarships
Generally, high effort, high reward scholarships are merit-based and open to everyone. They usually involve a rigorous essay and application process, but also net students some of the most valuable rewards and most high-profile, prestigious honors. Examples include the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship, which can net students up to $40,000 over a four-year period and the JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest, which can get students anywhere from a $500 cash award for finalists, a $1,000 cash award for the second-place winner or $10,000 plus an all-expenses paid trip to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston to the winner. Even high effort scholarships with smaller rewards, like the Civil Rights Defense Fund Writing Contest, should be attempted simply because they get less applicants than other, low effort scholarships.
In general, applicants should be fielding scholarships from all categories. Filling out a scholarship can never hurt, and diversifying one’s options will not only better chances of financial aid, but also help to secure cash injections to carry into the fast-approaching college years.
For more information on handling and applying for scholarships, check the Scholarship Bulletin on Family Connection or see Siwek in the BRACE office.
Photo by Ryan Sullivan