Advice for applying for scholarships

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MICHIGAN -- As a part of Michigan’s Scholarship Month, MI Student Aid is offering Michigan students and their families six easy tips to consider when applying for scholarships.

“Applying for scholarships can be confusing and many students don’t know where to begin,” said Anne Wohlfert, director of the Michigan Department of Treasury’s Student Financial Services Bureau. “There are many scholarships out there. It’s all about following a few basic tips to create a perfect application that opens the door to more money for college.”

Tip No. 1: Get Organized

Every student should begin their scholarship journey by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA determines need-based federal aid such as grants and loans.  The FAFSA also generates a Student Aid Report (SAR) which is used by colleges in determining need based grants and scholarships.

Scholarship applications often require recommendation letters, resumes, family financial information, transcripts, and lists of activities, academic honors, leadership roles, work experience, community service and more.

Prior to beginning a search, gather all these materials and save them in a folder for easy access. Having this information on hand will save time and ensure no information is left out of an application.

Tip No. 2: Get Smart

Scholarship applications should usually be completed six months to one year before the academic year they will be used. 

High school seniors should be ready to start their scholarship applications in the fall. High school underclassmen should research scholarship opportunities and begin assembling application components so that they can prepare their scholarship applications in the fall of their senior year.  

Individuals who requested a MI Student Aid scholarship search prior to their senior year in high school should re-request their scholarship search. The scholarship database is continuously being updated with new opportunities.

A common mistake students make with their scholarship search is limiting themselves based on scholarship amount. Small award amounts add up too, so apply for all eligible scholarships, even if the amount is smaller.

Never pay for scholarship information or advice. If a service requires money to get money, it is probably a scam.

Tip No. 3: Get Looking

College is expensive. Many students have to combine multiple types of financial aid, as well as savings and income from student jobs, to pay for college.

To put together a strong college financing plan, research and apply for multiple scholarships, including local, college and national scholarship opportunities.

Tip No. 4: Get a Scholarship Calendar

Create a schedule that sets aside time to apply for scholarships.

By creating a schedule, an individual is likely to submit more applications. Ideally, approach scholarship searches as if they are another assignment due.

Creating a calendar of due dates is a beneficial tool. Always set a due date on or before each deadline. It’s vital to keep track of all scholarship deadlines so no opportunities are missed.

Most scholarship committees discard late applications.

Tip No. 5: Get Writing

Be true to yourself when developing a scholarship application essay.

A review committee is interested in an applicant’s unique story. Make sure that an essay expresses the applicant’s voice and experiences.

Continuously review and work to improve application essays. Recycle application components that may be applicable to other scholarships.

Remember, by applying for many scholarships, an applicant betters his or her chances.

Tip No. 6: Get Connected

Follow @mistudentaid on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat for new scholarship opportunities, updates and best practices on all of our social media platforms.  

To learn more, go to www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid. 


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