Earning a college scholarship is competitive, but there are steps to take to give yourself an advantage.

Do you want free money for college? Then apply for scholarships.

Earning a scholarship requires time, effort, and persistent commitment. But you can do it.

Below is our top 5 things-to-do to be as competitive as possible:

5. Organize your ducks.

Research and learn what scholarships are available to you. Position yourself for success by finding scholarships that align with your interests, background, and unique traits.

There are many resources online to help you navigate the scholarship opportunities. This Forbes Advisor article is one way to get started.

Other places are:

4. Create goals

When you create a goal, you’ll be better positioned to claim it.

Here are five steps to help you stay on track:

  • Be strategic
  • Plan
  • Write out a schedule (and stick to it)
  • Take notes on your research
  • Know your deadlines

3. You’re not alone. Check your resources.

Check with your school’s website to see what scholarships the college/university offers directly to their students. Usually, you can find this information on the financial aid part of your college’s website.

If you’re part of a faith-based community or are employed check with those entities, check with them to see if they offer a scholarship or any tuition assistance.

If a family, friend, colleague, or co-worker received a scholarship, ask them how or where they applied.

2. Be the scholarship winner—embody their success.

Let’s face it. If you’re applying for one or more scholarships (and the more you apply, the better your odds), you know what you need. Letters of recommendation. A thoughtful essay. And, on nearly every application, there is a place to include additional information. Scholarship winners go the extra mile, taking advantage of ‘optional’ categories. Some optional opportunities will consist of the potential to add more detail on related work or volunteer experience.

1. Persist.

You’ll only be notified for most scholarships if you are a recipient or final candidate for that scholarship. Don’t let this discourage you. Try, try, and try again. After that, try some more. There is free money up for grabs. Learn the rules, know how to apply, and find where you fit. And then keep at it.

Remember, most scholarships require you to fill out the FAFSA. So, don’t forget to complete it.

So, you’ve won a scholarship…what’s next? In this MOSAIEC blog, learn how to keep the most of your scholarship money.

Photo of Financial Coach Beth.About Beth

For over 25 years, I have worked to help students go to college. The last 15 of those years have been focused on providing one on one counseling to students, parents and family members throughout the financial aid and college-going process.

I am a financial coach because I enjoy talking with people, and helping them with building their future by exploring their educational, personal and financial goals, and celebrating their successes. I hope to provide the tools and support you need to help you achieve your goals.

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