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How To Find and Apply For Scholarships in 2022

Millions of scholarships award billions of dollars in financial aid every single year but the question is how to apply for scholarship in 2020, We put together this scholarship guide using our decades of experience as college admissions and financial aid officers, first-generation college students, and financially savvy parents.

It’s no secret at this point that college can be expensive. In order to help offset some of those costs, one great plan of action you can take, regardless of your year in school, is to apply for scholarships. Applying for scholarships can be a great way to earn money to put towards your higher education. One of the things that makes scholarships so awesome is the fact that, unlike loans, in which the money you borrow must eventually be repaid, any scholarship money that you earn is yours to keep!

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For international students hoping to study in the US, scholarships can be an invaluable help toward financing your goals. Whether you are an incoming first year, a student going on to graduate school, or simply returning to college for a new year, there is financial assistance out there for you.

How to Find and Apply for Scholarships in 2022

The internet has gifted us with so many different search tools and online resources where you can find and apply for thousands of scholarships within minutes. We’re breaking down common tools you (and your parents!) can use to find scholarships to apply for.

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Scholarship Websites

Scholarship websites are commonly the first place recommended to search. These websites are easily accessible and host hundreds upon thousands of scholarships. In the past few years, scholarship websites have really upped their game with simple sign-up options, filter options (such as college major, gender, race, and school year), and search results matched to students’ individual profiles.

The downside with scholarship websites is the massive amounts of competition. Many of these websites link to external, national scholarships, and sometimes the scholarships are based on a lottery system. Since some sites aren’t updated frequently enough or quality-checked, some sites will still list scholarship programs that no longer exist.

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One last note of caution about these sites: Beware of scams. Some scholarship applications may require you to pay a fee in order to apply. You shouldn’t need to pay for any scholarship application. That’s a big red flag. You can check our tips for avoiding scholarships scams in our “No Essay” scholarship post.

Apps

Mobile apps and mobile-friendly scholarship websites are a convenient method for searching for scholarships. Having the ability to apply on-the-go and stay updated on scholarships is a great benefit. Most apps personalize your search options.

Using Going Merry’s mobile-friendly scholarship application allows you to filter your scholarship search for local scholarships, create a list of your favorite scholarships and colleges, and view scholarships you’re eligible to apply for. We’re also releasing mobile apps (for Android and iOS) by early 2020!

Search Engines

Apply For Scholarships

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A simple online search through Google or Bing is another option to find scholarships to apply for. To search effectively, make a list of all the different categories you fit into (e.g. by gender, race, state, hobbies, sports, disabilities, GPA, etc.) and then search for scholarships based on those. For instance, if you’re a Mexican-American female student from Phoenix, Arizona, who dances ballet and wants to study engineering, you might search for:

  • Scholarships for Arizona students / Scholarships for Phoenix Arizona residents
  • Scholarships for Chicanos / Hispanics / Latinos / minorities / first generation students
  • Scholarships for females / women
  • Ballet scholarships / Dance scholarships / Performing arts scholarships
  • STEM scholarships / Engineering scholarships / Women engineering scholarships

Newspapers & Bulletin Boards

Old-fashioned search tools should not be overlooked! Information on great local scholarships could be waiting for you in the newspaper or on a community bulletin board. Try looking for newspapers or bulletin boards at schools, cafes, community centers, or places of worship.

These scholarships have the benefit of being less known or having a specific, local criteria you meet that national applications might not meet. For example, the scholarship requirement section may read, “Must attend North Central Engineering High School,” or “Applicants living in Olivier County are eligible.” This can help increase your chances of receiving scholarship awards locally. Just make a note to apply!

Scholarships Providers

Similar to scholarship search tools, scholarship providers range in organization, accessibility, convenience, and competition. The main scholarship providers are government, private, and school.

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Prepare in advance

If you know you’ll need a full scholarship to help you to attend university, it’s important to start preparing as far in advance as possible. This is especially important if you find you need to attend an interview – some universities conduct special ‘scholarship weekends’ in which 50-100 students will be invited on campus to interview with a faculty member, answering questions on their goals and motivations and how this fits in with that university and course. If you need to attend a scholarship interview, you should treat this as you would any other formal interview, dressing smartly and coming well-prepared with good answers for their possible questions, as well as having a few questions ready to ask them when invited to at the end of the interview. Find out how to answer common admission interview questions here.

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Work hard and keep motivated

Dressing in Spain | ICS

Although some full scholarships will be based on financial need rather than academic excellence, some will take both into account, or only be awarded to exceptional students. It goes without saying that you should be working hard in your studies, but you’ll need to really put in the effort if you want to get that full scholarship, as the majority are awarded to the highest-achieving students. In some cases, universities may automatically consider applicants for full scholarships using your regular university application, making high grades crucial. While pushing yourself academically can be mentally exhausting, try to stay motivated by keeping your goals in mind, and give yourself a break every now and then to relax (especially during and after exam season!).

Make yourself stand out from other applicants

With so much competition to get a full scholarship, it’s crucial to stand out from the pool of applicants by demonstrating real commitment to bettering yourself as an individual. This means having a few extracurricular activities to show off to scholarship providers, demonstrating your passions and interests outside the classroom, as well as examples of times you’ve got involved with the local community, perhaps by taking part in volunteer work for a good cause.

Leadership skills are also hugely valued by scholarship providers, and you can demonstrate this by volunteering to lead projects in your extracurricular activities or community work.

Another thing that could really make you stand out from the rest when it comes to scholarship applications is a glowing report on your academic and personal qualities through your letters of recommendation, so it’s important to build strong relationships with your academic mentors – if a mentor knows you well, they’ll be able to provide a more personal and accurate reflection of you in their letter.

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Read the application instructions carefully

This may seem extremely obvious, but you don’t want to drop your chances by accidentally missing out a document or piece of information that was stipulated in the scholarship’s application instructions. Be sure to read the application guidance carefully and repeatedly, so you’re less likely to miss anything, and email the provider if you need clarification on anything.

Submit an exceptional scholarship essay or cover letter

Another one that goes without saying, but your application essay/cover letter needs to absolutely be the best quality it can possibly be. This means making sure it’s clear and concise, is formatted correctly, grabs the reader with a strong introduction, stays focused on its key theme or topic, and has flawless spelling and grammar. Don’t just rely on proofreading it hundreds of times to make sure it’s perfect – ask a friend to go over it and check for typos and any sentences that don’t read as well as they could do.

One of the winners of our QS scholarships wrote a very helpful article on submitting a winning scholarship essay, which you can read here.

Be realistic

And finally, as we touched on earlier, the unfortunate truth is that there aren’t many full scholarships to go around, and they’re extremely competitive, meaning that many candidates who meet and exceed the requirements for a full scholarship end up missing out. Don’t let this hold you back from applying, but be realistic about your expectations. And remember, there’s no limit on how many scholarship applications you can send out, and normally no limit to how many scholarships you can be awarded, so you may be able to build your own full scholarship using two or more smaller scholarships. (Of course, be sure to check with the providers that you’re able to apply for and receive funding from other sources). If you do get rejections, try not to let them get you down – pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and don’t stop trying in life until you get what you want.

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