Scholarship Application Tips
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Feb. 1, 2009 – In the current economy, more students are
looking for ways to pay for college while the cost of attendance continues to rise across the
country. Students shouldn’t overlook scholarships as a valuable source of funding in this
environment, according to the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN).
“Scholarships are an ideal source of college funds because they don’t need to repaid, unlike
student loans,” says Juan Garcia, manager of ICAN. “The possible payoff is well worth the time
to locate and research scholarship opportunities.”
ICAN recommends the following steps for scholarship applications.
• Start early and don’t stop. If you’re in high school, begin searching for scholarships
early in your junior year. Many opportunities exist for college students as well, so you
should continue looking for them into your final year of college.
• Look locally first. Ask your school counselor or college financial aid office about
opportunities they’re aware of. Then contact community and religious organizations, your
and your parents’ employers, professional organizations and area businesses.
• Expand your search. Check with the college you plan to attend and any student
organizations you are or plan to be involved with. Don’t pay for scholarship services; free
online search services can match your unique background and qualifications against a
database of scholarship opportunities. • Get organized. Keep applications, deadlines and requirements for each scholarship
together, and make a plan for submitting everything on time. Remember to give people
plenty of time to write letters of recommendation for you.
• Understand the mission. Take the time to understand the goal of the organization
awarding the scholarship. You can then demonstrate how your qualifications promote or
meet that goal.
• Complete the form neatly and accurately. If you’re submitting a paper application,
make a copy of it first. You can use the copy as a rough draft and use the original for
your final answers. Make sure you fill in every line legibly and accurately.
• Show your best side. Remember that your scholarship application is likely the only
impression the judges will have of you, so offer the best picture you can by being
professional, using vivid examples and expressing your excitement about and gratitude
for the opportunity.
• Write a winning essay. Address the topic completely while including details about
yourself and your ideas. Develop a theme around your main topic. Your essay should
follow a logical order and conclude smoothly. Have others read it for errors and
proofread it carefully.
• Include a resume or profile. List your memberships, participation, honors and awards,
employment, and future plans and goals.
• Mind the little things. When you submit your application, pay attention to the details:
Include materials in the order requested, don’t include extra materials and don’t use
special packaging or folders unless you’re asked to do so.
The outreach representatives at ICAN’s College Planning Centers in Cedar Rapids and West
Des Moines can help students with scholarship applications and searches, as well as other
college planning needs. All ICAN services are free and available in person or over the phone.
Spanish-speaking representatives are available. Call (877) 272-4692 for an appointment.