Have you ever thought about applying for a scholarship, but you’re not sure where to begin? Our scholarship department regularly receives emails from students asking basic questions about scholarships: what are they, how do I find them, where do I apply, how do they work, etc.

Over the next several months, we’re going to answer these questions and more. We hope you’ll join us as we share information to help you as you look and apply for scholarships.

Let’s start at the beginning to make sure we’re on the same page: what are scholarships? Well, here are the basics:

Scholarships are one type of financial aid.

As you’re probably aware, financial aid helps students cover the costs of their educational expenses while in school. This aid can come from many sources, including: loans, grants, tribal funding, employer tuition assistance, scholarships, etc.

Scholarships don’t have to be paid back.

The fantastic thing about scholarships is that they don’t have to be repaid. Receiving a scholarship can help you meet your financial obligations while reducing your need to borrow student loans, which do need to be paid back. This makes scholarships a great resource.

Scholarships don’t cost you anything except time.

Finding and applying for scholarships takes time and effort. It’s good to understand this from the beginning so you can give your all as you move forward. While the process will require your full commitment, applying for scholarships shouldn’t cost you anything. A few providers may charge a small processing fee of $10 or less; however, a good rule of thumb is that you should not pay money to apply for a scholarship.

Scholarships are not guaranteed.

Scholarship providers use a process to select the applicant(s) they feel best represent their overall mission. As you can imagine, every committee is unique and looks for different things. If a person or company says that a scholarship is guaranteed, we recommend that you move one; no one can guarantee that you’ll receive a scholarship. This is one sign that it could be a scholarship scam, according to the Federal Trade Commission. We’ll share more about how to avoid scholarship scams in an upcoming article.

Scholarships are competitive.

You, and everyone else who applied, are vying for the same opportunity. Every time you apply, be sure you give 100%. Committees often review hundreds of applications; find ways to stand out from among the crowd. If you don’t get a scholarship the first time, or even the twentieth time, keep trying.  

We’ll be the first to admit that the scholarship process can be confusing and even frustrating, especially at the beginning.  We encourage you to push onward. It gets easier as you learn more about which steps to take and you develop your own strategy. We’ll be here to provide guidance along the way. We already have some great resources at www.phoenix.edu/scholarships that you can check out. As you have questions, feel free to contact your advisor or you can contact us at scholarships@phoenix.edu.

Center for Scholarship Excellence

University of Phoenix