Local Scholarship Opportunities
So, ideally, by the end of February your applications for admission are submitted, the FAFSA is filed and the CSS Profile is complete.* What should you do with all of your free time? Search for scholarships of course! As you wait for your acceptance letters and financial aid award packages, now is the time to focus your efforts on searching for additional college funding. A good place to start is by applying for local scholarships. Here are some FAQs about scholarships to help you get started.
*Note: If this doesn't describe your status, don't fear! There are still options and support to help you get to this stage quickly. Keep reading, but check in with you school counselor and call our office anytime to get on track. We're here to help.
What are "Outside Scholarships"?
"Outside" scholarship funding includes awards to students from various organizations or charities outside of a college's financial aid program intended to help students manage college costs. These programs are intended to help students pay tuition and other costs associated with higher education like room and board, fees, or books and supplies.
If you are fortunate enough to be awarded outside scholarship dollars, the funds are typically sent on your behalf directly to the college you have chosen. Once you are notified of your award, contact the college's financial aid office to determine how the college will treat outside scholarships. In many instances, the funds will be applied directly towards your balance. In other cases, such as if you receive more scholarship funding than you require to pay the cost of attendance, a college may reduce the amount of financial aid they have offered. This depends on a number of factors including your EFC (Expected Family Contribution), your initial award package, and the college's policy. Do not let this possibility discourage you from searching and applying for outside scholarships and grants. If receiving an outside scholarship reduces your need to work or borrow, it is still well worth the effort.
Should I apply for national scholarships or just stick with the local opportunities?
A few of the largest databases of national scholarships can be found online at www.fastweb.com, www.collegeboard.com, and www.collegetoolkit.com. Scholarships are free money; so, why not apply to as many as you can? But, it is important to remember that these are national opportunities that will have much bigger applicant pools. Still, if your credentials or background fits the program, go for it! Somebody has to win, why not you? Some examples of national scholarships include the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation or Duck Tape's Stuck at Prom contest. Often students report that a majority of scholarship dollars came from local opportunities which presented a much higher chance of award.
Where can I find local scholarship opportunities?
Students often find great success in searching locally for college scholarships. Your schoolís guidance office will have the most comprehensive source for local and regional scholarships. Your school may also have its own procedure for applying for local scholarships.
New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF) is the largest provider of publicly available scholarships in New Hampshire, awarding over $5 million to 1,700 promising students each year. Four of the Foundationís scholarship programs are:
- Statewide Student Aid Program Ė For students between the ages of 17 and 23 enrolling in a four-year degree program or graduate students of any age. Applications are typically due on April 15th.
- Career Aid for Technical Students - For students between the ages 17 and 23 who have completed high school or earned a GED and plan to attend a two-year or other short-term training program. Applications are typically due on June 15th.
- The Medallion Fund - For students of any age who are pursuing short-term vocational or technical studies in fields such as automotive technology, plumbing, heating, construction, advanced manufacturing, computer repair, licensed nursing assistant, etc. Applications are accepted at any time.
- Adult Student Aid Program - For independent students, typically age 24 and older, looking to upgrade skills or work toward an undergraduate degree. Applications are typically due May 15th, August 15th and December 15th.
For information on these programs, please click here.
Does it take a lot of time to apply?
Many scholarship applications can be downloaded right from the Web. The applications may require a copy of your transcript, a letter of reference, or a personal essay similar to those you have written for college applications. Many will ask for a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the FAFSA. Whether you complete a paper version or submit online, remember to complete the application fully and accurately. As with your college applications and financial aid documents, deadlines are critical. Get your application in by the stated deadline to ensure your eligibility.