Know Your Scholarships: A Guide to Seeking Supplemental Financial Aid
Published on Sep 17, 2014 by Stephanie Rizzo
The decision to pursue a college degree is an investment on many levels. First, you’re investing in your passion by giving yourself time to foster it in a supportive environment. Second, you’re investing in the future by building the experience necessary to work in the field of your choosing. But what about that other investment, the one that has less to do with dreams and more to do with cold, hard cash? Paying for school can be a major financial burden, especially when you factor in supplies like textbooks and cost of living expenses like rent, groceries, and gas. According to College Board, these expenses can cost the average student up to $10,000 annually, on top of what they’re paying for tuition.
Ty Clark, a Financial Aid Advisor for Full Sail’s online programs, says it’s important for incoming students to know that they have options when it comes to supplementing standard loans. “In addition to offering a number of scholarships that both campus and online students might apply for, we encourage all of our students to take advantage of every outside opportunity for funding they can find,” he says.
Last year, financial aid topped out at around $238 billion. Federal loans make up the vast majority (46%) of aid, while an estimated 29% come from private, state, and institutionally backed grants and scholarships—that’s nearly $70 billion.
“There’s scholarship money out there,” says Ty. “Beyond what we offer here, it’s on the student to go out and find it.”
Since so many scholarships are dependent on individual factors such as income and academic merit, Ty recommends using a free, customizable search service like the one offered by Sallie Mae. Once you’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the scholarships you’re eligible for, it’s time to start applying.
“Apply as soon as you think you might attend,” says Ty. “If you don’t get a scholarship the first time around, keep applying. You may qualify to get it down the road.”
There are dozens of different types of awards, and each one will have its own application criteria. The most common types of scholarships can be broken down as follows:
Academic and Merit Scholarships
These awards are presented to students who demonstrate exceptional academic performance. The term may also be applied to funding awarded as a result of a demonstrated talent, such as artistic or musical ability. Most academic scholarships require the student to maintain a certain GPA in order to qualify or keep their scholarship. Full Sail’s Student Success and Merit scholarships are examples of academic based scholarships.
Community Service Scholarships
Usually associated with an organization, community service scholarships are awarded to students who volunteer for a specific cause or service. Some organizations, like Americorps, ask you to complete service requirements prior to applying, while others simply ask that you devote a few hours a month to service over the course of your college career. Many students find the act of giving back to be an enjoyable way to spend their time. Picking a cause that genuinely interests you increases the likelihood for a successful partnership with an organization. In addition to being a potential avenue for scholarships, community service looks great on a resume once you graduate.
Career Specific Scholarships
These types of scholarships are usually funded by schools, alumni, or companies who wish to encourage the growth of a specific field. By investing in students who demonstrate an interest or talent for a particular type of work, these individuals ensure a stronger workforce down the road. As with academic scholarships, these types of awards generally require students to maintain a good GPA, and funds can only be applied toward degree programs associated with a specific line of work. Full Sail offers scholarships to eligible campus students interested in the field of Emerging Technology.
These scholarships are determined by a recipient’s individual need. Since they’re usually based on income, students applying for this type of aid should be prepared to show proof of income in the form of tax documents or pay records. Awards may be provided in the form of a lump sum, or they might be distributed incrementally by semester. Full Sail offers several need-based scholarships, including the Pathway Scholarship for campus students and the Perseverance Scholarship for online students.
Scholarships based on demographics are wide and varied, though they typically provide aid to underserved populations.Race, gender, income, geographic location, and family history are just a few examples of information these scholarships may take into account. Many of these types of scholarships aim to support first generation college students. Others seek to diversify the workforce in certain fields. An example of a demographic-based scholarship is Full Sail’s Entertainment & Media Industry Scholarship for Women.
Finally, there's no limit to how many scholarships you can apply for, so get to searching! For more information on any of the scholarships mentioned, download Full Sail's Scholarship Guide or contact Full Sail’s Financial Aid department via phone or the web.