With the price of tuition skyrocketing at many colleges and universities, you may be hoping to land a scholarship to cover at least some of your educational costs. Websites like Chegg, Fast Web, and Scholarships.com are great resources to use for an inital search. These sites will prompt you to fill out a profile, and then they will send personalized scholarship matches straight to your inbox. However, many other students will be receiving the same information about these national scholarship opportunities, and the competition is likely to be high. To increase your chances of receiving money for college, take some time to discover your local scholarship network.
Many associations, organizations, and corporations offer scholarships to students within their communities. The number of students who qualify is limited to local residents, so the applicant pool is small compared to that of national scholarships. In sum, your chances of being selected are higher.
You may not realize it, but you probably have some connections to these local groups. Start your search by considering the relationships you and your family have developed within your hometown. Then, branch out to the internet and local publications. The following steps will help you find local scholarships for which you qualify.
- Visit your guidance counselors. They are likely to know of many local scholarship opportunities available to students. Schedule multiple appointments to take the time to develop relationships with your counselors. If they understand your college and career ambitions, they will be able to point you toward scholarships for specific majors. Remember to be professional and warm during your meetings. You want to make a positive impression so you will be at the top of their lists when new scholarship opportunities present themselves.
- Talk to your employer or your parents’ employers. Many companies offer scholarships to their employees and their dependents. Talk to your superiors at your after-school job and ask your parents to reach out to the HR department at work. Some businesses may also offer tuition assistance programs for employees. The UPS Earn and Learn Program is a great example. The company offers $5,250 per calendar year to part-time employees enrolled in college. If you are planning on staying local and working while in school, ask about tuition assistance when you interview for jobs.
- Inquire at businesses you frequent. Sit down with your parents and make a list of all the businesses you frequently visit and the places where you hold membership. Your credit union, bank, grocery store, cable company, or doctor’s office may provide generous scholarships to dedicated customers. Inquire the next time you visit.
- Visit your community foundation’s website. Most cities have community foundations that support philanthropic pursuits. Google your city’s name followed by “community foundation” to see what scholarships are offered to residents. Need motivation? The Community Foundation of Louisville lists 59 scholarship opportunities on its website!
- Consider local chapters of national organizations. Are you or your parents part of a national organization? Are you an inducted member of an alliance, society, or club? After your next meeting, ask the facilitator about scholarship opportunities. Also, consider doing a Google search to find scholarships from local chapters with which you are relatively familiar. You may not need to be a member to be eligible for these opportunities. If you are unsure where to look, ask extended relatives, your friends’ parents, and your teachers if they are part of any organizations. You can start to get an idea of what chapters are active in your community.
- Think big business. Are there a handful of big corporations that employ a large number of residents in your city? Did any national companies grow up in your hometown? These businesses may be looking to give back to the communities that support(ed) them. A Google search with the business’s name, your city, and scholarship opportunities should generate results.
- Check websites for colleges in your state. Even if you are not planning to attend a particular college, the school’s website may list scholarships available to all students in your state. Plus, your web search may include an added bonus: A college you never considered may pique your interest, and you’ll be happy you took the extra time to explore.
- Read the newspaper. Yes, it may seem archaic, but newspapers and local publications are great resources for scholarship opportunities, especially in smaller towns. If you find an article about a scholarship recipient, research the scholarship program; you may be eligible to apply next year.
- Look to your major. Eligibility for many scholarships is based on a student’s major. If you are planning to study a particular subject, listen up: Google your city or state’s name and your academic interest followed by scholarship programs. Your results will be tailored to your needs.
Remember, scholarship money adds up. Don’t shy away from amounts under $1,000. Many other students may have their eyes set on bigger sums, but those scholarships are likely to be more competitive. Apply for everything you are eligible for. You may end up with multiple awards that can all be applied to your educational costs.
Good luck with your search!