A scholarship is a financial award that is offered by an organization or "sponsor". Each sponsor determines the terms of this award. Some sponsors want the money to be spent on tuition and books only, and others are willing to assist with living expenses.
The criteria, application and selection processes are all unique to each scholarship sponsor. Some sponsors will notify you within a few weeks of their deadline that you have been chosen; others may take months. Remember that each scholarship process is different.
Filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a helpful part of funding your education. You might find out that you are eligible for financial aid to assist with your education expenses. Also, many sponsors use the FAFSA to determine financial need. Remember to fill out a FAFSA every year.
The FAFSA is available in January and the priority deadline for Bellevue College is April 16th. The deadline for the FAFSA every year is June 30th. The FAFSA can be completed on their website, www.fafsa.ed.gov
Working closely with our Financial Aid office is extremely important to determine how each scholarship will affect your financial aid package. If you receive a scholarship it will be added to your financial aid package and any excess funds will be awarded to you. If it becomes necessary to adjust your financial aid award based upon the amount of scholarship money you have received, loans will be eliminated first, followed by work study, waivers and then grants. The Pell Grant will never be reduced.
It certainly can't hurt! Each scholarship is different but many require at least a minimum of a 2.0 GPA. Merit scholarships will require at least a 3.0 GPA if not higher. Do not be discouraged if your GPA isn't great, there are scholarships available that will focus on your achievements, financial needs, community involvement and activities. It is important to apply for scholarships that best fit your circumstances.
Scholarship "season" is from January until April. These awards are for the following fall term. While spring is the prime time to apply for scholarships, there are many that are offered throughout the year. Some hard work and persistence will pay off, especially because fewer people are applying for scholarships in the "off season". Many scholarships are only available annually; missing the deadline will mean waiting another year for a chance at that scholarship.
Being involved in your community through volunteerism or membership in community organizations can set you apart from other applicants. Community service is a desired quality often looked for by scholarship sponsors. Many applications will include essay questions related to community service. Sponsors want to invest in people who demonstrate that they value serving others and giving back to their community.
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