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Common Scholarship Myths

April 1, 2008

by Paulina Mis

Numerous students find themselves doubting whether applying for scholarships is really worth their time.  They assume that competition is tough and that most applicants have an exceptional academic record—not true. It’s in a student’s best interest to maximize his/her financial aid potential by giving scholarships a shot. Check out some common scholarship misconceptions below before passing up valuable options.   1. All scholarship contests are competitive—There is no denying that a few national scholarship competitions can be difficult to win. Certain corporations go out of their way to advertise their philanthropic actions, and they create very minimal eligibility criteria to encourage students to apply. However, millions of scholarships are available, and most are neither well-advertised nor open to every student.

Try searching for awards you are eligible to receive based on strict criteria. If you’re a Chicagoan and you find an award available only to high school seniors residing in Illinois, go for it. Remember, the competitors are just as intimidated by you as you are by them. Don’t give up before you start.   2. Applying for scholarships will reduce federal student aid eligibility— A number of students worry about federal aid reductions resulting from scholarship winnings. Let’s set the record straight. According to Federal Student Aid representatives, Pell Grant awards will not be reduced because of scholarships. It is, however, possible for schools to limit certain loan eligibility or to reduce school scholarship offers. But unless you’re expecting a full ride from Harvard, you have nothing to worry about. Even if you are, the effects will be minimal, if any.   3. It’s easier to work for the money—Yes, you are pretty much guaranteed a paycheck when you work, but working is not the easiest way to find money for college. Student jobs are a great source of supplementary income, but, realistically, a student paycheck is unlikely to cover tuition. Plus, scholarships and jobs are not mutually exclusive. If you have the chance to win $3,000 by spending three or four hours typing away, take advantage of it. You may have to work an entire summer for that money. Even if you don’t win, the few hours won’t destroy your social life.


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