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What types of scholarships are to be avoided/put on priority?

What types of scholarships are to be avoided/put on priority? Are there certain ones more beneficial that others? Are all scholarships good sholarships? Should I look out for certain sponsors?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Michael’s Answer

Hi Gyah:

There are scholarships based on need, academic performance, school activities, sports involvement and community service. So, it will be to your advantage to seek out these types of scholarships. All of the academic staff at your high school that you interact with can write letters of recommendations for you based on what was just stated above. These recommendations can greatly help when filling out college and scholarship applications.

Scholarship applications can start to be submitted during your Junior year and will continue throughout your Senior year in high school. It is best to ask your Academic Advisor/School Counselor on the timeline process as well. Scholarship applications will have specific deadlines and requirements to meet in order to be submitted for review and consideration.

You may want to start to compile your resume/portfolio since a majority of scholarship applications will require academic grade point average (GPA), academic accomplishments, school activities (clubs, sports, etc.), community involvement (volunteer, church, etc.), academic and personal recommendations, etc. There may be essay requirements on why you are a qualified candidate to receive the scholarship, what your future goals are academically and professionally and other questions centering around who you are, your beliefs, etc.

Here are a couple of links for College Scholarships:

https://www.mometrix.com/blog/scholarships-for-college/

https://www.nchchonors.org/students/awards-scholarships/national-scholarships

Also, it will be best to check with the colleges and universities that you will be applying to. You can check with the School/Department of your desired major, the Campus Career Center and the Register's Office for additional information for college scholarships and grants and specific requirements for qualifications.

Best wishes for your education!
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Kevin’s Answer

Hello Gyah,

I would prioritize grants/ unconditional scholarships that are essentially free money as a top priority. For example, School Financial Aid Grants and the Pell Grant are priority #1 because they are gifts that are tax-free and go towards the cost of school.

Priority #2 would be scholarship contests. These usually require an essay of some sort or a video to win, which is not guaranteed. These can be a good resource if you are a strong writer or meet the characteristic they are looking for (for example, Adopted, Blind, Racial Minority, or Car Crash Survivor) . I recommend using Access Lex for law school scholarships, Fastweb, Scholarships.com, https://finaid.org/scholarships/, or even Google for undergrad scholarships. I won several by submitting over 300 applications while in law school and I won one my senior year of high school worth $16k.

Priority #3 would be conditional scholarships. These are common at predatory schools and usually require you be in a certain percentile class rank (e.g., top 25%) of your school to keep your scholarship. I'd avoid these at all cost as they are akin to a scam.

Lastly, priority #4 would be loans. This is money you have to pay back, with interest.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Gyah,

Types of Scholarships to Prioritize and Avoid

Prioritize: When it comes to scholarships, there are certain types that you should prioritize due to their potential benefits and credibility:

Merit-Based Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded based on academic, athletic, artistic, or other achievements. They are highly competitive but can be very beneficial as they recognize your hard work and talent.

Need-Based Scholarships: These scholarships take into account your financial need when awarding funds. They can be crucial for students who require financial assistance to pursue their education.

Institutional Scholarships: Offered by the college or university itself, these scholarships are often more reliable and can sometimes cover a significant portion of tuition costs.

Career-Specific Scholarships: If you have a clear career path in mind, look for scholarships related to your field of study or future profession. These scholarships can provide not only financial support but also networking opportunities.

Avoid: On the other hand, there are certain types of scholarships that you may want to avoid or approach with caution:

Scholarship Scams: Be wary of scholarships that require an upfront fee or ask for personal information such as bank account details. Legitimate scholarships do not ask for payment in exchange for consideration.

Unsolicited Offers: If you receive unsolicited emails or letters claiming you’ve won a scholarship you never applied for, be cautious. Verify the legitimacy of the organization offering the scholarship before proceeding.

Overly Restrictive Scholarships: Some scholarships come with stringent requirements or conditions that may limit your flexibility or cause unnecessary stress. Make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before accepting any scholarship offer.

Beneficial Scholarships: Not all scholarships are created equal, and some may offer more benefits than others. It’s essential to consider factors such as the amount of funding provided, the duration of the scholarship, any additional perks or opportunities offered, and the reputation of the sponsoring organization.

While all scholarships aim to support students in pursuing their educational goals, some may provide more substantial financial assistance or valuable resources that can enhance your academic experience.

Sponsor Consideration: When looking for scholarships, it’s advisable to prioritize sponsors with a reputable track record of supporting students’ education. Established organizations, foundations, universities, and government agencies are generally reliable sources of scholarships.

Researching the sponsor’s history, mission statement, and reviews from past recipients can give you insight into their commitment to supporting students and ensuring the integrity of their scholarship programs.

In conclusion, prioritizing merit-based, need-based, institutional, and career-specific scholarships while avoiding scams and overly restrictive offers can help you make informed decisions when applying for financial aid for college.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used:

U.S. Department of Education: The U.S. Department of Education provides valuable information on federal student aid programs, scholarship opportunities, and tips for avoiding scams in the realm of higher education funding.

College Board: College Board is a trusted source for information on college admissions, financial aid resources including scholarships, grants, and loans.

Fastweb: Fastweb is a leading online resource for scholarship search services offering a vast database of scholarship opportunities along with guidance on applying for financial aid effectively.

God Bless You, Richly, JC.
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Jamila’s Answer

Avoid:
- Scholarships with significant restrictions (i.e., major, GPA, school, region, etc.), these will make your college application list shorter if you are awarded and want to use the scholarship should you receive it
- Scholarships that come from organizations that don't align with your core values

Pursue:
- School specific scholarships for the schools that are at the top of your list. Some schools have scholarships specifically for their school that aren't advertised and you actually have to search for. You should be able to do so once you have access to your online portal upon completion of your application
- Scholarships that are niche and fit your skillset
- Scholarships that include other developmental programs (i.e., may have an attached leadership program)
- Scholarships that will allow you to speak to your strengths better than others
- Scholarships that match your demographic (e.g., LGBTQIA+, African-American, Asian-American, etc.)
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Gyah !

This is a superb question (high five to you) because I write about scholarships frequently here and it never occurred to me that scams would be implemented in something like college scholarships. In my naivete', I never thought to explore this but I definitely can see how it could happen.

I would imagine that any scholarship that asks for an application fee (and then no one gets the scholarship) may be one that you should avoid. Especially if it's from a place you've never heard of before. A Scholarship or a Grant is money awarded to a student out of a pool of applicants and I just never heard of a donor asking for a fee from the students but I can imagine that would be one scam. I have left two links to information about scholarship scams so that you can become more familiar with it.

I would trust the federal financial aid system, scholarships awarded by the college that you attend, any local, city, county, state or federal sources for scholarships and grants and large corporations, unions and well known companies. If a donor is unfamiliar to you or you are apprehensive about applying for their scholarship, check the company or organization at the Better Business Bureau website in your locale. You can even e-mail the BBB to ask a specific question that they will check out for you. They also would appreciate your reporting it and be grateful for your alerting them.

I will take a shot in the dark and say that most scholarships and grants that are out there are legit. When you apply for scholarships, they are for all different amounts of money to be awarded, so you'd want to apply for as many scholarships and grants as you possibly can. That will increase your probability of being granted multiple scholarships which will greatly help you with college financing.

I would advise reading the two articles at the links below and approach scholarship application with confidence and a happy outlook. This is an important topic for prospective college students and other students after high school.

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

INFORMATION ABOUT SCHOLARSHIP SCAMS https://www.appily.com/guidance/articles/paying-for-college/beware-of-scholarship-scams
AVOIDING SCHOLARSHIP SCAMS - THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISION CONSUMER ADVICE https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scholarship-and-financial-aid-scams
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