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Searching for Scholarships

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I hear all too often “I can’t afford to go back to school.”

There are scholarships out there, but you have to be willing to put in some work to go after them. It will be worth the effort in the end. Follow these tips to help you be successful in your scholarship search:

Get Organized! This is essential and can save the frustration. The more organized you are the better it will be.

  • Create some type of tracking method. It could be a spreadsheet with columns indicating when the scholarship closes, who sponsors the scholarship, the amount, a short description of what is required, and when you apply.  
  • Schedule time to fill out applications. Begin the summer or fall the year prior to attending (e.g. summer 2016 for fall of 2017). Most scholarships are given away by May 1st for fall of the same year.
  • Save your applications and essays, labeling them for easy search. Often scholarships will have similar application questions and essays so this can be a real time saver.
  • Create a separate email for your scholarship search. This way everything is all in one place, and your personal email is not overrun.

Ok, you are organized, and now the big question, WHERE to look?

  • Start with your college (to include technical schools and community colleges) financial aid section. They should have information on local, regional and national scholarships.
  • Complete the Federal Student Aid application, even if you think you will not qualify.  This program is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, providing grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college or career school. Even if you do not qualify, many scholarships require that you file. – https://fafsa.ed.gov/
  • General scholarships specifically for military families:
    • Your service’s relief society – Application process begins 1 January for both spouse and dependent children scholarships.  If you go to their site under scholarships, they have a list under other resources that they normally update yearly.
    • Military One Source – www.militaryonesource.mil
      • In their education section there are links for scholarships.
      • You can also call and ask for an education specialty consultant to assist in finding scholarships.
      • Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) portion –where you go for Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program (MyCAA), offers up to $4,000 for spouses of E1-E5, WO1-WO2, and O1-O2.  
    • National Military Family Association:  http://www.militaryfamily.org/our-programs/military-spouse-scholarships/ – they sponsor various scholarship programs so check back regularly.
    • Look at military affiliations – Special Forces, Armor, Air Defense, Army War College, etc.  Many have scholarship funds if you are a member of their association.
  • Community Specific:
    • Local Spouse Clubs
    • VFW / American Legion / Vietnam Vets of America chapters have local and national scholarships
    • Local community organizations such as Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, and League of Women Voters often have local and national scholarships.
    • Check at your local library, and with the high school guidance counselors for local community scholarships.
  • Professional organizations for the degree you are pursuing, many have scholarships.
  • Look at organizations your family (can even be grandparents) belongs to such as: Moose Lodge, Knights of Columbus, Sororities, Fraternities etc. They have scholarships locally and nationally.
  • Finally, check out the major scholarship search engines such as Fastweb, Peterson’s, College Board, and Niche.

You CAN afford to go back to school, with a little bit of work. Your future is worth the time and effort.

career-employment-advocate

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