The obvious first choice for financial aid is to go for the “free money” – the scholarships and grants for college that don’t have to be paid back. Online learners may face some unique challenges here, since many scholarship committees are a bit more used to giving funds to on-campus students than to those getting a university degree online. But you should not feel shut out of scholarship opportunities. The main U.S. government scholarship programs don’t distinguish between online and classroom students. And there is such a huge variety of public, corporate and private scholarships for collage available today. As an online student you stand a good chance of finding free money for college – as long as you’re willing to look for it and then put in a good quality application.
A Wide Range of College Scholarship Options
The fact is that the scholarship landscape is can be a little confusing — because there are almost too many options to search through. Everyone from Fortune 500 companies to local Knights of Columbus chapters offer scholarships, and many of them are targeted at specific groups. There are scholarships for women, for minorities, for good math students or good writers or for people who have done community service.
The first scholarship most people look at (and which you should almost certainly apply for if you need financial help) is a Pell Grant, a needs-based grant from the federal government. But even if you are eligible for a government grant, it may not be enough to cover your full tuition needs. To find out about many other scholarship options, start by looking at your local library and among every civic group in the town you live in (even if you live in a major city). There are lots of websites that can aid you in your scholarship search, but be careful. There are sites out there that may try to charge you a fee even if they don’t help you get a scholarship, and some groups promise a lot more than they can actually deliver.
You don’t need to be an A student to get a scholarship, but you will often need a letter of recommendation from a teacher, employee or clergyman, and you may have to submit an essay or cover letter to a foundation to get assistance. Try to find the scholarship that fits you. Some groups like to give money to students who have been deeply involved in community activities, who have demonstrated business talents, who are member or minorities or fit any number of different profiles.
Something For Every Type of Student
Just a few examples of private scholarship organizations listed on Phoenix University’s site include:
- The Akademos/TextbookX.com Scholarship, for undergraduate and grad students enrolled in good standing at an accredited college or university in the U.S.
- The 1-800-Wheelchair Scholarship Fund, for full-time undergrad students who value tolerance, compassion and respect for all people in their communities.
- The Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest, which awards students read the famous Ayn Rand novel and write an essay on a selected topic that can be found on the website of the foundation’s website.
- The Blogging for Progress Scholarship, given to students who create a blog and write about current events, environmental issues and public policy. The Internet is a good tool for searching for scholarships, since so many new ones are created every year.
Also, don’t assume you can get only one scholarship. It’s completely possible to obtain financial aid from several organizations. A good additional tip: while you don’t want to take out too many loans, there is no reason not to get as much scholarship money as possible. Many students get multiple grants, and you should go for all you can get, because you do not have to pay most scholarship grants back.
Your School, Your Scholarship
Keep in mind that the colleges themselves offer numerous scholarships, which may be based on your grade average in high school or an artistic or writing portfolio. Online students, naturally, tend not to qualify for athletic scholarships. The amount of money you can get from schools varies drastically, so make sure to talk with your school’s financial aid office before committing to study at that particular school.