How to get scholarships you didn’t know existed

Column 4/6/18
April 6, 2018
Current SLC members share advice with their successors
April 6, 2018

How to get scholarships you didn’t know existed

Susan Young frequently advises students about finances. Photo: Esther John

The stereotypical college student’s limited-to-nonexistent finances has become somewhat of a running joke in modern society.

But to the financially struggling college student, such circumstances are anything but funny. In spite of this problem, many untapped opportunities for financial aid are available.

Receiving financial aid is not necessarily simple. Even students who have received financial aid in the past may need to renew old scholarships or apply to new ones.

Mrs. Susan Young, BJU Financial Aid director, noted. “Financial aid is an ever-evolving, ever-changing process, so someone who’s a senior won’t necessarily have the same financial opportunities as an incoming freshman,” Young said.

Most college students will find the effort necessary to obtain financial aid worth the effort. Today, with the help of internet tools as well as private and government services, college students can obtain financial aid more easily than ever before.

Several internet sites may serve as invaluable tools for finding scholarships. Young warns students to avoid sites that ask for a form of payment or social security number, as neither of these should be necessary for analyzing options, although the social security number may be required when actually applying for a scholarship.

Helpful sites include fastweb.com, scholarships.com, and schoolsoup.com. Most of these ask you to create a profile using personal information and analyize the information in conjunction with available scholarships to help determine which ones the student may be eligible for.

Young said many of sites request an email address, and she suggested avoiding using your primary email, as these sites will often send you many emails.

College applicants can look at what demographically based scholarships are offered by their area or school of choice and determine which of these categories they may fit into. Many universities offer some scholarships based on academic merit, family background or specialized skills in a field or area.

For instance, BJU offers scholarships to students with high academic performance (3.0 or higher GPA), children alumni, and those with at least one parent involved in some form of full-time Christian ministry.

Students should also  research potential scholarships in their hometowns or states. Local business, foundations, employers and organizations related to the applicant’s area of interest as well as state and local offices offer various types of scholarship grants.

A student will often find investigating these potential opportunities worthwhile.

Students with tight finances can also apply for need-based financial aid. Because the level of need varies greatly from student to student, and many different factors contribute to how significant a need a scholarship applicant is considered to have, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how great a scholarship is available.

For any given individual with what is considered a legitimate need, available scholarships may range from one or two hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Many tools exist to help students figure out their eligibility for aid. One of the most significant of these is the government-provided FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid.)

Once a student fills out this form, most colleges, including BJU, can use the information to determine what financial aid programs are available to that student.

In fact, many universities (again including BJU) require a copy of this form before they can offer need-based financial aid to a qualified applicant.

Financially struggling students may be able to gain financial aid through submitting a financial aid appeal.

Young said that students who are unsure if they will be able to afford the next semester of college at BJU can write an explanation of his or her situation and submit it to the financial aid office.

The simplest way to do this is to send an email with the subject line “financial appeal” to finaid@bju.edu.

More specific options available to BJU students can be found at bju.edu/admission. Indiviualized guidance about scholarships and finacial aid at BJU can be found at the financial aid offices located in The Hub.