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External Scholarship Search Tips


1) Start Looking Early and Often

Begin your search and application process at least one year in advance of when you would like to use the scholarship.  Most deadlines are in the Spring for the following academic year.  Although, keep searching year round for new opportunities.

2) Assess Your Strengths

Inventory your strengths and give priority to those scholarships that fit your best qualifications.  Examples of these strengths may be talent, educational background, ethnic origins and other personal characteristics.

3) Do Your Research and Look Locally

Use scholarship online search engines, local libraries and local neighborhood organizations such as your parent’s employer, high school and religious organizations to help you target specific scholarship programs.

4) Be Smart

Avoid paying scholarship application fees or giving out your credit card or bank account information.  You should never pay to apply for scholarships!

5) Organize and Prepare Your Application Timeline

Collect letters of recommendation, and carefully prepare a standard essay for application.  Use these items to systematically apply for many scholarships with the same core materials. Keep a calendar and follow up on applications in a timely manner.

6) Utilize Columbia’s Resources

Visit Columbia’s Learning Studio for writing tips, our library resources and watch out for SFS Scholarship Workshops.

7) Submit Your FAFSA Early

Visit www.fafsa.gov in February of each year to complete your FAFSA.  Most applications do require you to document financial need.

8) Don’t be Disappointed and Keep at It

Most students apply for over 10 to fifteen scholarships before receiving one and most scholarships are between the $500 and $2000 range.  These will add up and eliminate any dollars you will have to potentially borrow and pay back with interest.