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How To Land A Scholarship And Make College More Affordable

Between tuition fees, accommodation and all those hefty textbooks, going to college can be an expensive endeavor. The investment is undoubtedly worth it in the long run thanks to the increased job prospects and higher earning potential you’ll enjoy after graduating, but that doesn’t make it any easier to cover your costs in the first place.

Luckily, there are options open to you that will help you to gain a degree without having to remortgage your house or sell one of your kidneys! One of the most appealing of these is to receive a college scholarship. Keep reading to find out more, and how to maximize your chances of being awarded one. You’ll also find some further tips for making college more affordable towards the end of the post.

An introduction to college scholarships


A scholarship is an amount of money that’s given to you for the purpose of furthering your education. Unlike a student loan, a scholarship does not need to be paid back – a fact that explains why they’re so desirable and why they’re so competitive.

There are an extremely broad variety of scholarships available, some of which are administered by the colleges themselves and others which are awarded by external charities and other agencies. They range from large scholarships which cover your tuition fees in full (as well as contributing toward living costs), to smaller awards that just make a partial contribution.

Each one has its own eligibility requirements too. For example, you might have to be studying a certain subject, live in a certain area, or belong to a marginalized group. In many cases academic achievement is a key criterion, but there are also awards such as sports scholarships and music scholarships which require you to exhibit talent in a different field. As such, no matter your circumstances there’s sure to be at least one or two that you’re eligible for!

Top tips for being awarded a scholarship

Winning a scholarship of any kind is tough, so you can’t simply fill in the form on a whim and hope for the best. Instead, follow these top tips to maximize your chances of success:

Start early


The process of applying for scholarships takes a lot of time and effort, as you may need to write essays, gather official documents, and find suitable references. As such, you should get started on it as soon as possible. On top of this, many scholarship deadlines are earlier than the college application deadlines – so you might not have as much time as you expect to get your forms submitted.

The earlier you begin, the more awards will be available to you, and the more time you’ll have to work on your applications. All of which means that your chances of being awarded at least one go up significantly.

Research carefully

As discussed above, every scholarship is unique in terms of what it offers and who is eligible to apply for it. This means that research is a vital part of the process. After all, you don’t want to waste time applying for an award you cannot receive. A good place to start is with the scholarships offered by your chosen college itself, so take a look at CampusReel to calculate where you have a good chance of being accepted and then see what awards they have available.

Following that, you can search for scholarships offered by external groups. There are databases that can help you find suitable awards, though you might need to pay for access to some of them.

Apply thoughtfully


Due to the fact that scholarships are highly competitive, you need to ensure that you craft the perfect application for every single one. No copying and pasting the same personal statement for each award! Check the exact requirements for the scholarships you’re interested in, submit all the documentation that’s asked for, and stick rigidly to the word count. Take care to highlight why you’re applying, how the scholarship will benefit you, and what makes you the perfect recipient for the award.

Once you’ve written an application statement that you’re happy with and checked it carefully for errors, see if you can get a friend, school counselor or family member to read over it too. This is a great way to receive some honest feedback from an outside perspective, and also catch those one or two annoying typos that you’re bound to have missed!

Submit widely

In many instances, being awarded a scholarship is a game of numbers. The more you apply for, the greater chance you have of winning one (as long as you meet the eligibility requirements and put together a great application for each).

Bear in mind that the larger a scholarship is, the more competitive it is likely to be. Lots of students successfully fund their studies by instead targeting smaller awards with fewer applicants and end up enjoying a similar overall financial benefit by winning more than one of them.

Other ways to make college more affordable


Sadly, not everyone will be lucky enough to be awarded a full scholarship to college. However, that isn’t the only way to reduce the costs of getting a degree. The tips below can help you to graduate without getting into an unmanageable level of debt:

  • Set yourself a strict budget to limit the amount you spend on everything from clothes to entertainment
  • Investigate other forms of financial aid, such as grants for those studying to become a nurse or teacher, and those who come from military families
  • Consider working a part-time job while at college. The majority of universities have positions available on campus that will enable you to make some extra income without putting your studies in jeopardy; be aware that if you’re an international student there may be some restrictions on the type of employment you can have and how many hours you can work.
  • Take advantage of your student discount to enjoy cheaper travel, clothes and nights out
  • Make the most of libraries and secondhand bookstores rather than buying all your textbooks brand new
  • Cook for yourself instead of eating out at restaurants, and make coffee at home rather than heading to Starbucks
  • Save on rent by living with roommates, or even at your parents’ house if that’s a feasible option for you