Are You Eligible for Financial Aid?

Scholarships have qualifications an applicant has to meet in order to obtain it. It may be an income-based qualification, grade point average, specific ethnic origin or nationality or any number of other qualifying factors. Failing to properly assess your qualifications for a specific scholarship may cause you to spend less time on other scholarships for which you are qualified thus decreasing the amount of scholarship funds you have available for your education. While it is tempting to rush through your financial aid packet and apply for every scholarship you see, it is essential to eliminate those for which you are not qualified and spend more time on those that have the potential to help you meet your educational needs.

Conduct a Preliminary Evaluation

Whether you are reviewing a financial aid packet or information you collected from various searches on your own, the first thing you should do is conduct an analysis of the information you have in front of you. A quick review of the qualifications is necessary in order to gain some insight into what is available and whether you may meet their guidelines for acceptance. While you are certainly free to fill out all the applications in your packet, it is much easier to begin with those for which you qualify rather than to waste time on those that may not meet your educational needs.

An In Depth Analysis is the Best Choice

After you complete a quick evaluation to determine preliminary eligibility you should proceed to do a more in depth analysis of those scholarships that are most likely to meet your educational needs. While you may certainly wish to apply for all scholarships for which you qualify it is a good idea to begin with those that have the ability to meet your financial and educational needs initially. That means you may want to look at those that offer the highest annual or semester award before you look toward those that may be based on your career of choice.

Never Leave any Page Unturned

Yes, this sounds cliché but an important one nonetheless when it comes to choosing scholarships. In order to receive the highest scholarship award you should apply for all scholarships to which you are entitled. There is no need to worry about receiving more money than you need for school because you may have other expenses for which the money comes in handy such as books and lab fees. The money will go directly to the college, so if you do not use your entire allotment they may hold it in an account for you toward the next semester's fees and tuition. However, you will be unable to use scholarship money for living expenses unless that is defined in the scholarship award, and this is something that is usually reserved for those students who live on campus and/or attend full-time. This does not mean that you risk not finding the funds you need including living expenses because there are other sources of funding into which you can tap for all the funds you need for your educational aspirations.

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