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UU Scholarships: From the Financial Aid office

Scholarship Myths

Scholarship Myths

MYTH: People only can get scholarships if they are straight A students or they are outstanding athletes 

TRUTH: People who give scholarships are motivated for many reasons and are often looking for students who are like them in some way -- interested in the same major; social cause; field of study; college; hobbies; etc.  If you had extra funds to use to create a scholarship, what would your requirements be?  Scholarships are awarded to students with a wide vareity of abilities and interests -- no just straight As or great athletic skills.

MYTH: People only can get scholarships if they are poor.

TRUTH: There is no universal definition of "financial need" for scholarships. If the scholarship does not give a specific income number, apply anyway.  The person giving the scholarship might not be concerned about your savings or income, he or she is seeking someone interested in the same major; social cause, field of study; college; hobbies; etc.

MYTH: "Merit" scholarships only consider grades.

TRUTH: "Merit" is defined by the person giving the scholarship.  It can mean extracurricular activities; achievements; ambitions; community service; leadership.

MYTH: There is one place to find out about every scholarship.

TRUTH: No one place lists all scholarships- no one book; no one internet site.  Plan to look for information about scholarships in many places.  There will be some overlap but better to see a scholarship twice than miss the one that is just right for you.

MYTH:  Paying for a scholarship search is the best way to find scholarships.

TRUTH:  There are many free ways to find out about scholarship.  Websites identified here as well as books listing scholarships available at your local or campus library.  In general organizations that charge for scholarship searches are going to tell you about the free loan services available from the federal government.  


Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay: Step 1

You do not have to be an amazing writer or even super creative to write a winning scholarship essay. You need to specifically address the question asked and learn how to organize the information so that it is compelling.


Set aside 30 distraction free minutes. Use this time to brainstorm ideas on aspects of your life to write about. Find a few scholarships that you are eligible for (even if deadlines have passed) and see if the scholarship provider has posted previous winning essays. These will be great examples of what you are trying to accomplish.

Financial Aid

Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay: Step 2


Once you understand the characteristics of a winning scholarship essay, step two is all about free writing. Writing down your thoughts and ideas freely, without worrying about proper spelling, grammar, etc. Following is a list of questions to free write about:

What is your major?

What is your intended career?

Why is a college education important to you?

Who and what inspires you?

What do hope to accomplish in your career and/or life?

Why do you believe you will be successful?

Have you overcome specific obstacles while earning your degree? How did they affect you? Are you still overcoming them?

What accomplishments are you most proud of and why?

Why do you need a scholarship? How will winning it help you?

Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay: Step 3


Using the results of your Free Writing select the most compelling thoughts from your document and organize those into four main sections of a winning scholarship essay:

Opening, story, goal and wrap-up.


Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay: Step 4


Using your rough draft, use these ideas to create an essay. Identify what to write about in each section of your essay. Your story does not have to be amazing- it just needs to be real and honest.

Once you complete your first draft have someone you know review it and give their feedback. Ask them questions like:

                Does the essay make sense to you?

                Is it redundant?

                What did you like about the essay? What did you not like?

Keep making edits and asking for feedback until you are happy with the reviewers’ to the above questions.


Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay: Step 5


You may have to tweak your stated goals and wrap-up section to make it applicable to each.

Be sure you are referencing the correct scholarship! No matter how brilliant your essay. If you address the wrong scholarship, you will not win!

Making Informed Choices

How to Make Informed Choices:

First: Evaluated how much you can afford to borrow based on salary expectations and decisions about how much of your income you are willing to devote to loan payments.


Second: Here are some suggestions to help change your plans and/or behaviors when dealing with loans.

  • Maximize other assistance by applying for financial aid and scholarships prior to posted deadlines.
  • Borrow less than the loan amount offered on financial aid award notification.
  • Ask the school about tuition payment plan options to help avoid or reduce the need for a loan.
  • Consider using any savings set aside for other purposes.
  • Consider leveraging investments or other assets.
  • Working while in college.
  • Borrow only what is needed for direct educational expenses.
  • Pay interest on unsubsidized loans while in school.
  • Compare payment plans options and calculate loan repayment amounts.
  • Complete programs in a timely manner.
  • Enroll part time for one or more terms, even though this delays the day you start earning more substantial income.
  • Reduce expenses, even if it means making lifestyle changes.
  • Manage money well, using sound financial practices described in financial education resources that are readily available, including:
    • USA Funds Life Skills
    • U.S. Department of Education Financial Awareness
  • Counseling Tool
  • Contact the Financial Aid Office for additional assistance 

Where to find scholarships

Reliable scholarship search sites:

Good Call

  • GoodCall integrates data and technology to make finding scholarships easier for students and their families. And, unlike other scholarship search sites, we’re totally free and open – no fee or account sign-up required. View thousands of scholarships, filter results by specific requirements, and even search by competition level and entry difficulty.

  • offers you a quick, easy and free college scholarship search to save you hours sorting through the millions of scholarships in our database

The College Board

  • Find scholarships, other financial aid and internships from more than 2,200 programs, totaling nearly $6 billion.
  • Scholarship information is based on the College Board's Annual Survey of Financial Aid Programs.

Scholarship America

  • Scholarship America's mission is to mobilize America, through scholarships and educational support, to make postsecondary success possible for all students. We do this through core programs and businesses that support students in their education journey.

Pay it Back

Pay it Back 

After you graduate, donate to organizations that offer scholarships. Support organization that offer scholarships. And encourage organizations you join to consider offering scholarships.


College Board website

College View

Sallie Mae- student loan company

Scholarly societies

Other Resources for Finding Free Money


WORK: both you and your parents employers. If they do not offer scholarships they may offer a dependent tuition fee wavier or discount.

LARGE EMPLOYERS, BESIDES YOU OR YOUR PARENTS: ie. Walmart, McDonald's, Starbucks, Coke a Cola

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Kiwanis, The Lions, churches, community foundations, service organizations.

GOOGLE SEARCH: always good for something!