Students, scholarships provide you with essentially free money to put toward your school bills. Scholarships can come from a variety of places - from state and federal governments, to colleges, to private companies - and they do not need to be repaid. They may be given based on your financial need, academic achievements, community service, athletic talent, and many other factors.
Paying for college can be daunting, but with resourcefulness and hard work, funds can be acquired. Few students receive scholarships out of the blue. You will need to do research and work hard to complete the applications!
Below is a brief outline of how to begin pursuing scholarship opportunities, and included are some resources to help students and parents along the way.
Scholarships from Colleges
In your search for possible scholarships, start with the obvious source: the college(s) to which you are applying. Visit the financial aid/scholarship webpages of every college you are considering, and apply for all of the scholarships you think you might be elibible to receive. The colleges themselves fund the vast majority of scholarships awarded each year. Once you, the student, have identified a college you may be interested in, look carefully at their website to see what scholarships they offer. As independent institutions, each college or university will have its own requirements, scholarship application deadlines, and forms. It can be well worth the effort to start here.
Common Sources of Scholarships
Commons sources of scholarships are the organizations in which you and your family are involved (e.g., fraternities or sororities, volunteer organizations, cancer survivor groups, etc.).
- Many corporations like TVA award scholarships to children of employees, so ask your parents to check with their place of work.
- Local volunteer organizations offer scholarships to worthy applicants (e.g., Blood Assurance, Kiwanis, Rotary Club, Ronald McDonald House Charities, etc.)
- Local or national religious organizations (e.g., denominations such as United Methodist and Southern Baptist) have scholarships available to their members. Check with your pastor.
- If you have a particular talent - like playing a musical instrument, dancing or playing a sport, fishing, or making pottery - ask your advisor or teacher about national organizations related to your talent that might offer scholarships.
- Research state-funded scholarship such as Tennessee HOPE, Tennessee Promise, Georgia HOPE, and Zell Miller Scholarships. See links below for more information.
Scholarship Match Sites
There are several free online resources to help you sift through general scholarships. Each of the sites below will ask you to register and create a profile in order to generate a list of potential scholarships for you. It may be hard work to apply for the scholarships that are a fit for you, but it can pay off in the long run!
- Big Futures
- Christian Connector
- For Tennessee Residents
- For Georgia Residents
Specific Scholarship Updates from CCS
If you would like to receive email updates about specific scholarship opportunities, please contact Mrs. Joan Vos, Director of College and Career Counseling, at email@example.com to join the email list.
Financial Aid 101: An Overview of Terms and Details
What are the types of financial aid and scholarships?
- Grant - free money based on need
- Loan - money borrowed that must be paid back with interest
- Scholarship - free money awarded on the basis of merit, skill, or unique characteristic
- Word Study - money received from on-campus employment
What are the most common sources of financial aid?
The Government: The Federal Government offers over $150 billion in aid each year. Likewise, most states offer millions of dollars to its students through grants and scholarships. See gafutures.org for Georgia financial aid information. See tn.gov/collegepays for Tennessee financial aid information. For the federally funded financial aid programs, go to studentaid.ed.gov.
Your College: Colleges and universities offer financial aid and scholarship programs for their students. Visit the financial aid/scholarship webpage of every college you are considering and apply for all of the scholarships you think you might be eligible to receive.
The Community: Non-profit organizations, foundations, and businesses often provide scholarships as a community service. See the Common Scholarship Match Sites section above and add your name to the email list to receive notification of a variety of scholarship opportunities.
COA (Cost of Attendance): Sticker Price vs. Net Price
Know the difference between the "sticker price" or COA and the "net price." A college's sticker price is the full published cost of attendance. The net price of a college is the cost of attendance minus grants and scholarships that you receive. This difference is key, as most students do not pay the sticker price of a college.
Don't shy away from applying to a college because the "sticker price" seems too expensive. A college that may hae high tuition might just offer you a generous financial aid package. It might end up being even more affordable than colleges that have a lower sicker price.
How do I know how much I migh have to pay even before I apply?
Colleges are required by law to have "net price calculators" on their websites. When you are doing research online, make sure you fill out the information on these calculators to see an estimate of what your college costs would be at that college.
(Adapted from Tennessee FAFSA Frenzy Handbook and Eric Farmer, TSAC, Financial Aid 101.)