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Outside Scholarships

“HELP! I Need More Money for School!”

How to Find Outside Scholarships

What is an “outside scholarship?”

An outside scholarship is an award that comes from an “outside” agency that is not affiliated with the University or federal and state governments. Outside agencies include businesses, nonprofit organizations, civic and professional associations, community organizations, and even professional sports teams.

Sounds great! How can I get one?

Unfortunately, since outside scholarships come from the “outside,” they are largely the student’s responsibility. It is up to you to find, research, and apply for outside scholarships. Luckily, we’ve been doing some research to help get you started.

So what do I need to know about this process?

Here are some general tips to point you in the right direction:

· Get organized. Before you do anything, you need to get a few things in place to make your search as smooth as possible. We recommend creating the following:

o Personal Inventory. Type out a list of your academic and personal achievements, any clubs or associations you belong to, your hobbies and skills, your work experience, and anything else that sets you apart from other applicants. Stop by the Financial Aid office for a great template to use.

o Scholarship Search Tracker. Start an Excel spreadsheet that will list all of the scholarships you are applying for. You will want to include the due dates for each scholarship, the application requirements (if it requires a letter of recommendation, etc.), where you found the scholarship, and the date that you submitted everything.  

o Application Organizer. Get an expanding file or multi-pocket folder and keep hard copies of the applications and everything else you submit in one place.

o Recommendation Letter Summary. Many scholarship applications require a letter of recommendation. Get a head start on this by creating a summary of your personal inventory to give to prospective letter writers. Start thinking about who may be able to provide you with a recommendation.

· Start early. Scholarship applications can be very lengthy and complex. Give yourself plenty of lead time and aim to submit the application at least 5 business days before the due date, to allow for any technical or delivery difficulties.

· Aim to conduct a broad search. You will want to search for both local and national scholarships, online and printed directories to increase your odds of winning. (More on this below).

· Recycle material. Save everything you submit for applications, and try to reuse material for multiple applications. Use your personal inventory for information that is almost always asked (your demographic information, gpa, etc.). It’s much easier to submit 30 applications when you can recycle information from one application to the next.

Anything else I should know before I get started?

Keep in mind that any scholarship you win may reduce the amount of institutional financial aid you can receive. Contact your financial aid counselor for specific inquiries.

Also, be mindful of scholarship scams. Please see the Federal Trade Commission for more information. Never provide your credit card number on free scholarship search websites.

One more thing—don’t give up!

Ok I’m ready. Show me the money!

Let’s start first with general principles of scholarship searching, and then we’ll give you some specific websites.

1. Seek High and Low. As mentioned above, it’s important to apply for both national and local scholarships. National scholarships are best found using online search engines and directories (see below), but it takes more effort to find local opportunities. Don’t make the extra steps in finding local scholarships a reason to not include them—keep in mind that if you had to make the extra effort , how many other students do you think are doing the same thing? The harder it is to find a scholarship, the greater the likelihood that there are fewer applicants competing.

2. Don’t Disregard Future Scholarships. Find a scholarship with a deadline that’s already passed? Is the scholarship for seniors only, but you’re a sophomore? Add these scholarships to your Search Tracker (you did make one, didn’t you?) so that you can apply when the time is right.

3. Get the Word Out. If you belong to clubs or organizations (if you don’t—find at least one to join, stat), let the leader know you are interested in scholarship opportunities. Also ask your parents to check with the groups they are affiliated with and their employers as well.

How to Find Local Scholarships

Start with the following:

· Professional associations. If you know what you want to do after college, start with the associations that are affiliated with that industry. For example, if you know you want to work in taxation, search for tax accreditation associations.

· Community organizations, such as Rotary clubs, American Legions, and Lions clubs. Note that you do not have to be a member of these organizations to receive their scholarships.

· Employer and parents’ employers, as well as any employee unions that you or your parents belong to.

· Church or religious organizations.

· Local government. Local city council members and state representatives usually have scholarship funds for people who live in their districts. Don’t worry—you didn’t have to vote for them to win!

· Local businesses. Contact your region’s Chamber of Commerce, as well as the St. Louis Business Journal’s Book of Lists (available at most libraries).

· Local newspapers. Search back issues for articles about students who have received scholarships and then research the name of the scholarship(s) mentioned online.

How to Find Associations

Are you having trouble locating associations to see if they offer scholarships? The St. Louis County Library offers the Associations Unlimited database, a listing of nonprofits, associations, and professional societies. You can search by location or industry.

Ready, Set, Search! Online Scholarship Databases

Greater St. Louis Community Foundation administers 35 scholarship programs. Many have their own application process, but the site has a Common Scholarship Application for some programs.

Society for Information Management St. Louis awards scholarships to local students pursuing Computer Science, Computer Networking, or MIS related degrees.

Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis provides scholarships and interest-free loans to local students.

St. Louis Graduates has additional resources and a scholarship database.

Foundation Center Online for Individuals, available through the St. Louis Public Library, is a searchable database of grants to individuals (also known as scholarships). Has a wealth of free resources available as well.

The Scholarship Workshop provides tips and resources. Don’t forget to sign up for their electronic newsletter that provides scholarship updates.

CollegeNet’s Mach25 Scholarship Search Engine allows you to search by keyword or create a profile for custom matches.

SallieMae Scholarship Search lists over three million opportunities.

U.S. Department of Education Scholarship Search includes a keyword search and a scholarship matching wizard.

Black College Dollars from the SallieMae fund lists opportunities for African-American students.

UNCF Scholarship Listing lists opportunities for African-American students.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund lists opportunities for Hispanic students.

American Indian College Fund lists opportunities for American Indians.

APIASF Scholarships lists opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander students.

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