Hi Maria, I had a couple of questions. Besides the Gates Millennium scholarship, what other scholarships financially helped you in college? How did you go about the scholarship process, what sites did you often use, what did you search for? Also, what others sources, besides scholarships, do you recommend students use to be financially stable with regard to paying for school? Thank you so much!
Besides Gates, I won the Coca-Cola Scholars Scholarship by being part of the Bronze Team, and the All-Florida 1st Academic Team Scholarship. I was also a finalist for the Ronald McDonald House of Charities HACER Scholarship and the Buick Achievers Scholarship. These are $25,000 a year scholarships. Honestly, I applied to everything. I applied to more scholarships than I did to transfer schools. The key is to be aware of the scholarships, know the requirements and make sure you would qualify, and know the due date. My academic advisers were a lot of help. Mrs. Julie Gomez from the Clearwater campus helped me a lot in finding scholarships. She advised me to look at the school and look for specific scholarships for that school. More often than not, schools are the ones who give out the full-ride or full-tuition scholarships.
I believe I got to the Gates website by searching “Scholarships for students of Hispanic Heritage.” Searching for specific scholarship is a great way to start. For example if you are a female studying physics then search for “Scholarship for female scientists” or “Scholarships for females wishing to major in STEM related fields.” There is nothing bad about going specific. For websites I did not use any one in particular just search engines. For Phi Theta Kappa transfer scholarships I used the Fall Common Application and for updates and reviews I used Cappex. I know there are many websites but I never got too engaged in those. I found them really confusing. I preferred to go the scholarship or foundation website directly and read the Facts page.
Besides scholarships, there are grants and the dreaded loans. My advice of course would be to try to avoid loans if possible. There is work study and federal aid which are accessible by submitting the FAFSA. The FAFSA is any financially-savvy student’s best friend. It is not that hard to complete and if done correctly and early enough you can apply to scholarships sooner.
It is true; there are many scholarships out there. I think someone once made a study that if you apply to a large amount of scholarship, you will get at least one. There are also many scholarships that go unnoticed and no one applies because students either do not know about them or did not fill their application correctly.
Another tip would be to never stop looking. Like I said, the scholarships are out there just waiting for a qualified student’s application. If you are already in school then definitely look at what your school can offer you in regards to institution or foundation scholarships, but still look at outside sources such as local clubs or companies. Ultimately, for a college student any financial help can make a huge difference so do not discriminate against small scholarships. Rather treat them with the same consideration as the full-ride scholarship. I found this was the best way to submit the best quality application possible.
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