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Scholarships.com Education Award Winner Inspired by Childhood on Mohawk Reservation

Dec 10, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Samantha P. spent her childhood in Akwesasne, a Mohawk Nation territory on the New York-Canada border. When she moved from her Mohawk-language elementary school to an English-language middle school, she saw students from her reservation struggling with the abrupt transition and knew where her future would lead her. To help Samantha complete a degree in Education at the State University of New York at Potsdam and prepare for a career helping students from her community excel in both English and Mohawk, Scholarships.com has named Samantha the 2009 recipient of the annual $1,000 College Education Scholarship.

Scholarships.com has been awarding Area of Study College Scholarships since summer 2008 to help students like Samantha meet their college and career goals. The competition grants a $1,000 scholarship each month to a high school senior or undergraduate student planning to pursue a career in one of 13 areas of study, such as Education.

"Education is an important field in need of passionate and forward-thinking individuals," said Emily Hilleren, Director of Content for Scholarships.com. "Samantha’s dedication to her area of study and commitment to a multicultural approach to teaching made her entry stand out among the numerous applications we received. Scholarships.com is honored to play a role in funding her college education with this scholarship award."

Scholarship applicants are asked to describe what influenced their career choices. In her essay, Samantha described her goal of becoming an English teacher near the community where she grew up, so that she could “incorporate traditional Mohawk stories like ‘The Creation Story’ with classics like ‘Romeo and Juliet’” to instill in her students a passion for reading and writing. “I want my students to be chameleons and blend into the world of the Mohawk culture and the English world that surrounds them,” she wrote.

The Scholarships.com Area of Study Scholarships are open to all U.S. citizens who will be attending college in the coming fall, regardless of age, test scores or grade point average. To apply for the Scholarships.com Area of Study College Scholarships, students can conduct a free scholarship search and complete an online scholarship application.

A complete list of Area of Study scholarship winners as well as their winning essays is available on our Student Winners page.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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A Strong Foundation Means a Strong Application

Dec 8, 2009

by Derrius Quarles

Once you start the process of identifying scholarships that you qualify for, start a scholarship table that will help you track the progress of them. The scholarship table should list the name, amount, deadline, if you have completed the scholarship application, and if you have submitted the application for each scholarship you have identified.  This will be a very effective tool in helping you remain aware of the status of your scholarships. When you begin to complete your applications you will notice that there are many components to each scholarship, which could seem very cumbersome. However, you can break each scholarship down to smaller sections, which will essentially allow you to spread the time you spend on each application out and make the process less strenuous.

Most scholarships can be divided up into these sections:

  • Contact Info
  • Academic info
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Personal Statement/Essays
  • Recommendations

Each component is very important and will require attention in order to build a strong application, but there are certain components that tell the scholarship review boards the most about who you truly are as a person. These components are the essay(s) and the recommendation(s) and I believe that these components are the foundation of your application.

The essay(s) is a critical portion of your application because it shows how well you can articulate your personal experiences, past accomplishments, and future aspirations. While reading your essays the reviewers should receive a glimpse of your personality and delve into who you are as a person. They should reflect your potential to write at the collegiate level and ability to be both creative and eloquent. You must find a way to begin your essay creatively because that will keep the reader interested throughout your entire essay. The introduction should be the beginning of telling the reader a story, instead of writing like you would for a research paper. Once you draw the reader in with an interesting introduction, expand on the story with your body paragraphs. After the body paragraphs, wrap the essay up with a strong conclusion that shows what you learned from the story and how that story made you a better person. When you complete any essay for a scholarship application, save it to your computer and a flash drive so that you can revise it and possibly use it in subsequent applications.

The scholarship letter of recommendation will give the reviewers an opportunity to see a respected individual's opinion of you and should accentuate the activities and information listed in the rest of the application.  The reason they are so important is because it is the only part of the application that is not completed by you, and sometimes the quality of your recommendation (length, content, position of person who completes it) says more about who you are as a person than anything you could say about yourself. This is why it is imperative that your recommendations are completed by people that have had a close relationship with you (other than a family member), have observed your participation in different extracurricular activities, and are familiar with the scholarship you are applying to. Always give your recommenders at least three weeks to complete your recommendation whether they are hard copies or online and always have a résumé ready to give them in case they want to know more about all of your past activities. If the recommendation is a hard copy, ask your recommender if you can make copies for future scholarships so that you do not have to ask them every time. Keep in mind that each portion of your scholarship is important, but the essay and recommendation are the foundation of your application, and a strong foundation means a strong application.

About the Author:

Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships at Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the second in a series of posts Derrius will write for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Dell Scholars Program

Dec 7, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Are you a hardworking high school student frustrated by the emphasis on GPA and test scores in many scholarship contests?  If you've ever caught yourself thinking, "sure, anyone can get a 4.0 if they take easy enough classes," you may want to check out the Dell Scholars Program, this week's Scholarship of the Week.  The Dell Scholars Program seeks to reward students who use their high school experience to prepare for college, taking challenging classes and participating in college-readiness programs, while taking care of other responsibilities outside of school.

High school seniors who have participated for two years in an approved college-readiness program, such as AVID or Upward Bound, while maintaining at least a 2.4 GPA are eligible to apply for the Dell Scholars Program, which carries a scholarship award of $20,000.  The scholarship application focuses primarily on a student's dedication to college success, asking questions about your non-scholastic activities and responsibilities, the challenges you face, the steps you've taken to prepare for college, and the amount of financial support you need for college.  Dell Scholars are students who have the drive to push themselves to earn a bachelor's degree.

Prize: $20,000 - 250 scholarships awarded

Eligibility: High school seniors who are U.S citizens or permanent residents and who plan to enroll in a bachelor's degree program at an accredited higher education institution next fall.  Applicants must have participated in a college readiness program for two years with a cumulative GPA of 2.4 or higher, and must have demonstrated financial need for college.

Deadline: January 15, 2010

Required Material: Completed online scholarship application (available on the Dell Scholars website). The application may require information from your high school transcripts and your and your parents' tax returns, and will also include a couple of short essay questions.  Semifinalists will be asked to provide a letter of recommendation, a copy of their high school transcript, and FAFSA Student Aid Report, as well

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Discover Scholarship Program

Nov 30, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Corporate scholarships award some of the most generous funding out there, and while competition can be fierce for these awards, you could be looking at an impressive financial aid package if you're chosen as the winner of such an award.

This week's Scholarship of the Week is no exception. The Discover Scholarship Program awards up to 10 scholarships of $40,000 each annually to high school juniors who show a passion for leadership and community service, and who have faced some significant roadblock in their lives. The program has been offered since 1991, with more than $16 million awarded in scholarships to nearly 6,500 students since then.

Prize: Up to 10 scholarships of $40,000 each

Eligibility: Applicants must be current high school juniors enrolled in an accredited U.S. high school, with plans to graduate from that high school. Homeschooled students and students attending military base high schools in or outside the United States are also eligible. Applicants must also have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 over their freshman and sophomore years.

Deadline: January 31, 2010

Required Material: An online application is available starting in December on the Discover website. Scholarship money may be used for any type of post-secondary education, training, certification, or licensing programs, including two-year trade and technical colleges. Judging is based on outstanding achievements in areas beyond academics.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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AXA Achievement Scholarship

Nov 23, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

The term "achievement" means much more than academic or athletic success, and there are scholarship opportunities that recognize this fact.  High school students who have accomplished something significant in their school, workplace, or community--and not merely for a grade in school--are invited to apply for the AXA Achievement Scholarship, this week's Scholarship of the Week.

The AXA Foundation, in association with U.S. News and World Report and Scholarship America, seeks to reward high school students who are making a difference in their communities.  Previous winners include students who have set up a food bank in their community, designed a curriculum to get kids interested in science, founded a nonprofit organization for young people that encourages community service and civic involvement.  AXA scholarship winners are a diverse group wo have the following in common:  ambition and drive; determination to set and reach goals; respect for self, family and community; and the ability to succeed in college.

Prize: 52 state winners: $10,000, 10 national winners: $15,000 (for a total of $25,000)

Eligibility: Current high school seniors who plan to enroll full-time in an accredited two-year or four-year college or university in the United States by fall 2010.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents.

Deadline: December 15, 2009

Required Material:Completed scholarship application, found on the AXA Achievement website, recommendation from an adult (not a family member) who can attest to the student's achievement, and high school transcripts.  In the application students are asked to describe an outstanding non-academic achievement that they feel qualifies them for the scholarship.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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The First Step Doesn’t Have To Be the Hardest

Nov 17, 2009

by Derrius Quarles

Greetings, my name is Derrius Lamar Quarles and I am currently a freshman majoring in psychology with a biology and public health minor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois and went to high school not too far from Barack Obama’s home. Recently I have been featured on CNN, BET, and in the Chicago Tribune discussing various topics ranging from my journey as a foster child in Chicago to my matriculation at Morehouse College. However, the most exciting and acclaimed topic has been my success in applying for and winning scholarship money—$1,145,000 in total.

This accomplishment has won me the titles “Million Dollar Man” and “Million Dollar Scholar,” titles that I accept gratefully and with a sense of responsibility to help others achieve their goals of attending and paying for college. I can vividly remember writing the goal “Win a million dollars in scholarship money” on a sheet of notebook paper and having many people help me manifest that goal. I hope not only to help high school students learn how to apply for scholarships and win them, but to inspire middle school students to attend college, motivate elementary school students to become scholars, and encourage preschool students to become whatever they want to be. We are all born with the ability to capture our dreams, but few ever learn how to synthesize their dreams into goals, which, unlike dreams, are achievable. It’s like the concept of potential and kinetic energy. We all have potential energy (dreams), but potential energy on its own cannot do any work. We have to learn how to apply force (turn dreams into reality) so that our own potential energy can be turned into kinetic energy that can help us accomplish our goals.

A few years ago I dreamed of going to college, knowing nothing of what I needed to do in order to gain acceptance and how much college would cost. I avidly believe that if I did not make the decision to turn that dream into a goal by learning about the requirements, tailoring my class schedule to make it more rigorous, doing well in my classes and, most of all, asking for help from others, I would not be attending Morehouse College. For many, the decision to turn a dream into a goal is the hardest step, but it does not have to be, and neither does making the decision to turn your dream of paying for college into a goal. Start out by researching which colleges you would like to attend and how much they will cost. Once you have done this, research whether the institutions offer scholarships for such things as academics, community service, sports, leadership, coming from a disadvantaged background, or residing in a certain state. All institutions will offer some form of aid for their applicants, so make sure you are aware of any scholarships or grants you are eligible for from the college you plan on attending. The next step is completing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which becomes available Jan. 1 of every year. After that, you should start locating other resources for searching and applying for financial aid, including your high school and free online scholarship databases such as Scholarships.com. Once you start doing these things, you will actually be turning your dream into a goal and you will soon realize that the first step does not have to be the hardest.

About the Author:

Derrius L. Quarles is a 19-year-old freshman at Morehouse College. He hopes to go to medical school after he graduates with a degree in psychology and biology and a minor in public health, and to one day work on the public health policies of his hometown, Chicago, and beyond. To help him achieve those academic and career ambitions, Derrius has won more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend Morehouse, since graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School with a 4.2 GPA. Derrius was awarded a Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships a Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the first in a series of posts Derrius will write for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Mommy Goes to College Scholarship

Nov 16, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

There are a number of scholarship for women out there, and as a response to a weak economy, scholarship providers have also taken notice of mothers going back to school to improve their financial opportunities and provide for their families. If you're a mom returning to college (whether you're single or not), consider that when you're looking for scholarships, because there are awards out there based on almost any characteristic.

This week's Scholarship of the Week, the $1,000 Mommy Goes to College award through MyUSearch, targets moms who wish to go to college to not only broaden their own horizons, but inspire their children to do the same. The award will be given to one mom who is up to the challenges of balancing the duties of both college and motherhood, and applicants will asked to write an essay on that theme. If you're a mommy looking for ways to fund your college dreams, you could be eligible for this award, or others like it.

Prize: $1,000

Eligibility: All applicants must be mothers who have an annual combined household income of $100,000 or less. Eligible women must be planning to pursue an undergraduate degree at an accredited U.S. college or university, and have not yet enrolled in at their intended college. This scholarship is for first year and transfer students only who will begin their first semesters on or before October of 2010.

Deadline: December 31, 2009

Required Material: Applicants must complete an application through the scholarship provider, which includes a written or video essay component on the following topic: "What is your biggest challenge as a mother trying to get a degree? What can colleges and universities do to help you overcome this challenge and encourage other mothers to further their education?"

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Make National Scholarship Month a Cause for Celebration

Nov 16, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Scholarships.com has a guest blog post on the Church Hill Classics DiplomaFrame Blog today in honor of National Scholarship Month.  Although squeezing more work into your already hectic schedule may not seem like the best cause for celebration, free money for college certainly is.  We go through some basic tips for starting your scholarship search and completing scholarship applications.

To read more and to check out the Church Hill Classics website, visit http://www.diplomaframe.com.  Church Hill Classics offers a variety of diploma framing options, as well as the Frame My Future Scholarship, which has previously been featured as a Scholarships.com Scholarship of the Week.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Lost Your Scholarship? How to Cope

Nov 13, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Cancellations and cutbacks to scholarship programs have been making the news a lot lately.  Michigan recently ended its state Promise Scholarship in the face of a budget crisis (though the state's governor vows to restore funding) and other states and companies are also having to make some hard cuts.  The latest round has left five high-achieving Arizona high school juniors without the four-year full-tuition scholarship they signed a contract to receive in the fifth grade.

Budgetary cutbacks aren't the only way that students can lose scholarship money.  Many scholarship funds are only designated for a set amount of time: four years, two years, or just one check.  Other awards are contingent on strict eligibility criteria.  A dip in your GPA, a semester where you drop below full-time, or a transfer to another college or university could potentially make you ineligible for a renewable scholarship award.  All of this can change your college funding picture dramatically from year-to-year.

Transfer Students

Students who are transferring will want to see if their new college offers scholarships for transfer students.  If your scholarship is from your college, it's unlikely to transfer to your new school unless there's a preexisting special arrangement between the two institutions.  However, if you've won an outside scholarship, especially one from a state or national organization, you should contact the provider to see if the award will transfer to your new school. You also will want to do a scholarship search--many national scholarship awards are designated specifically for transfer students, especially students who are moving from community colleges to four-year schools.

Lost Eligibility

Students who have lost their scholarship from not meeting eligibility criteria will often have a chance to appeal the decision to revoke the award.  Ask the scholarship provider if there's an appeals process, and follow the instructions exactly in as timely a manner as possible.  If there are extenuating circumstances that led to the situation, you may need to document them.  Above all, be polite and respectful and try to create a good impression, even if your appeal is denied. Awards that run out can also occasionally be appealed for an extension, or applied for again for a possible second round of funding.  Check the rules for the contest or ask the scholarship provider if this is the case.  Even if you lose eligibility for one award, it doesn't mean you're ineligible for all scholarship opportunities.  Search for scholarships to see what else you may be able to find.

Canceled Programs

Finally, if your scholarship program has been canceled, there are still things you can do.  Some providers, like our Arizona example above, will help students find alternate funding, and may even be able to supplement some of the difference between what they promised and what you can't find on your own.  Some colleges are also making up for cuts in high-profile state and local scholarship programs by creating their own scholarship funds for the students affected.  Other schools have emergency aid or one-time scholarships available to students who find themselves suddenly without the means to pay their tuition.  Check with your financial aid office to see if your school can help.

Students who have already succeeded at winning scholarships are also likely to win more, since so many scholarship providers have similar criteria. If you find yourself caught without scholarship money you had planned to use, try to find some time to apply for additional awards.  You may even win more money than what you lost.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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2009 Resolve to Evolve Scholarship Winners Announced

Nov 12, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Scholarships.com is pleased to announce its 2009 Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship winners!

The five winners of the 2009 Scholarships.com Resolve to Evolve Scholarship tackled college costs, achievement gaps, energy policy, and post-graduation struggles in essays that provided not only their criticism and opinions, but workable solutions to problems facing the country.

College students have been creatively addressing current events and issues through the Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship since 2006. This year, the contest asked applicants to explore the efficacy of general education requirements or create their own “calls for change” in response to the current administration’s tasks for the future. The five winners each received $1,000 scholarship awards, and will have their essays posted online and forwarded to officials who may be able to act on their suggestions.

This year’s winners were Jennifer C., who argued that general education requirements should include life skills to help students get and keep jobs after graduation; Andrew K., who suggested legalizing and taxing marijuana to pay for two years of free tuition for every college-bound American; Tara M., who proposed investing in early childhood education to close achievement gaps and support lifelong learning; Yvonne V., who suggested more flexible general education requirements with a firm foundation that left room for greater freedom after the first year of school; and Tai W., who offered a strategy for energy reform in the United States.

"For me, winning the Resolve to Evolve scholarship has a special meaning. I am a returning student, and it took a lot of motivation to return to school after a seven-year hiatus. ... Winning this scholarship helped me prove to myself that I can succeed and accomplish my goals," Tai W. said about the scholarship application process.

Jennifer C. compared winning the award to "having my own cheering squad encouraging me to go on with my education and helping me succeed."To learn more about this year's winners and winners from previous years, visit our Resolve to Evolve award winners page. We also have a Success Stories page for scholarship searchers who have landed some generous scholarship funding by applying for awards early and seeking out scholarships often. Check those out to give you a confidence boost for your own search, as it's a great time to be looking for scholarships. And remember, essay scholarships aren't the only awards out there. Conduct a free scholarship search to see the kinds of awards you may qualify for, because many won't require an impressive academic record or essay-writing ability. Good luck!

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Celebrate National Scholarship Month

Nov 10, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

If you haven't already been seeking out and applying for scholarships, what better time to start than National Scholarship Month? November was designated as National Scholarship Month by the National Scholarship Providers Association to bring more awareness of scholarship opportunities to the college-bound or those already pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees. The organization works with scholarship providers to make them more effective in providing you with scholarship opportunities and exposing college students to the number of awards out there.

National Scholarship Month was switched from May to November in 2008 for a reason. Now is a great time to start applying for awards, as by next spring, many scholarship deadlines have passed and funding has already been disbursed. And even if you have several months to get ready for a scholarship application deadline, apply early. Scholarships are constantly being added and created, and in a tough economy, best practice will always be to apply early and apply often to get the most out of your scholarship search.

Browse through our site for tips on applying for scholarships to improve your chances of padding your financial aid package with scholarship money. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that your chances of winning a scholarship award are slim to none. But someone wins each award, right? Why shouldn't it be you? For an idea of the kinds of awards you could win if you put the time and effort into your scholarship search, see our Success Stories page. Many of those students applied to a lot of scholarships before winning one, or had the same apprehensions you might have about your chances to win an award. Now they're enjoying life on campus with less of a reliance on student loans and a new confidence that they were chosen to win these awards from large pools of applicants.

Celebrate National Scholarship Month by starting with a free college scholarship search, where we'll come up with a list of awards that you're specifically eligible for and have a good shot at landing. Make your search as specific as possible, as there are awards available to students based on almost any characteristic you can think of. Play up your academic strengths if that's where they are. If you have a unique hobby, use that to your advantage, as there are awards out there that could reward you for your interests. And be sure to keep your profile up to date. If you improve on your GPA, for example, you could be eligible for a number of new scholarship opportunities you weren't eligible for before.

Most important of all, go into the scholarship search with confidence. There are awards out there for you, so start looking and apply for scholarships before the school year gets away from you. Happy National Scholarship Month!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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