Making Scholarships Stress-Free

Published on Feb 24, 2014

It can be stressful to finally graduate, only to find yourself with a ton of student loan debt. But don’t have to worry, there’s free money out there that you don’t have to pay back. Yes, that's right! Here’s how you can get more of it to help pay for those tuition costs.

Tips for Getting a Scholarship

  1. Before you apply, fill out the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA)! The priority deadline has passed (February 1st) but you still want to fill it out as soon as possible.
  2. Participate in extracurricular activities. If you want to stand out from the other applicants, you have to work for it. Many applicants will have good grades, but maybe they wont be as involved in their community or school as you are. It’s also self-rewarding! 
  3. Research, Research, Research! Figure out what scholarships are available. Many scholarships are skill-oriented and if you have a particular polished skill that you would like to show off, this is the time to do so!

Not so fast! Researching doesn’t only mean checking what’s available, it also means checking the credibility of scholarship sites and applications.  Many companies prey on young aspiring professionals and their desire for money. If the company or site looks fishy, it probably is! Be careful before disclosing your personal information.

  1. Apply for multiple scholarships. Don’t just sit around waiting for the results of one application, apply for as many as possible. This will not only increase your chances of getting a scholarship, but it will improve your application skills!
  2. Read and study the application requirements. You don’t want to do all of that work and end up submitting an incomplete application. How devastating would that be? Studying the requirements can ensure that you don’t forget anything. Also, make sure you include as much detail as necessary in your essay answers because you don’t want to leave the application reviewer wondering.
  3. Proofread your application! Trust, a scholarship application isn’t the time to be lazy and not proofread! It’s unnecessary and easily preventable. The money is worth it!
  4. Submit your application before the deadline. Be ahead of the competition! Submitting a scholarship application early will show the company that you’re prepared.

An important portion of any scholarship application is the essay because it humanizes the application data you provide. When you’re applying for a scholarship, make sure this part stands out! Good scholarship essays balance creativity with career goals. Here are some good examples of scholarships essays.

Columbia has many scholarship opportunities for every department. Also, if you have any questions or concerns regarding financial aid and the scholarship process, contact Student Financial Services.