In the Fall, scholarship searching is going to be focused on seeking out opportunities from the specific colleges to which you are applying. Ask an admissions representative about their “merit-based” scholarship opportunities. Find out if they have any special deadlines that are different from the regular application deadlines. If you are certain about your college major, speak to that department’s office and find out if they have any departmental scholarships open to freshmen. If they are only open to upperclassmen, get some information on it and file it away for next year.
FAFSA, Pell Grant, Student Loans
The bulk of students’ financial aid will come in the form of grants and loans from the federal and state government. Students and parents should be prepared to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It will become available for the upcoming fall AFTER January 1st and you should file by the priority deadline of March 1st. This means you will need to have your previous year's tax return ready soon enough so that you can have the financial information you need to file the FAFSA.
Click here to to complete your FAFSA form.
Beginning around March, some local organizations such as the Rotary Club, Realtors Association, and Stanly Regional Memorial Hospital (to name a few), open their scholarship competitions to graduating seniors. The reality is that these scholarships while helpful, are smaller than the other two sources I’ve mentioned above. Volunteer organizations simply cannot offer what the government and the schools themselves can. These scholarships are very competitive, and already last year some were reducing amounts or discontinuing awards due to the current state of our economy. Do not rely on them to fund your college, start early with the other two sources identified above.