College scholarship opportunities abound. But limiting your search to national or institutional scholarships means your child is missing out on some great opportunities. There are many local organizations that offer funds to high school and college students in their area and have much less competition than those with a larger focus.
Finding these local scholarships requires some research, but the rewards make it well worth the effort. So, if you want to help your high school or college student track down some extra cash for tuition, books, or living expenses, here are some places to start.
High School Guidance Office
Many guidance offices are well aware of scholarships that are available in the local area, but it can be surprising how few students actually ask about the opportunities. So, if your child hasn’t taken a few minutes to sit down with a guidance counselor, it is a stop work making.
In fact, some school districts even have foundations that provide funds to their students, so make sure your high schooler asks about these opportunities during the meeting. This is one area where it never hurts to take a minute and ask, as your child may be surprised by what they find.
Also, you may be surprised to hear this, but some scholarship organizations still only use paper for applications. How do they market to students? They send the paper application to the guidance office! That means the only way for your child to find out about it is to go into the guidance office.
Not everyone knows that cities, towns, counties and other municipalities may have foundations within their borders that extend opportunities to local students. Your child can start the search by typing your city name and the words “community foundation” into a search engine and see what comes up. In some cases, these foundations offer large awards and are limited to residents in the local area.
These can be specific to your zip code, county and/or city. Is your child going to school out of state? No worries. While they may require the student to be from a specific location, they often are open to any accredited college or university.
Additionally, many of these local scholarships are available year after year. Your child may have to resubmit an application each year but the award amounts often grow the closer they get to graduating from college.
Local Chapters of Large Organizations
Many large, national organizations are divided into local chapters for easy management and community involvement. And many of these groups offer scholarships. For example, your area Elks Club or Rotary Club may have opportunities to which your child can apply, as well as area professional organizations and unions. You can also check with the local American Legion or VFW, especially if your family has a current or former military member. Local PTA and PTSA chapters often offer scholarships as well.
Like community organizations, applications are normally only accepted from students in the local area. This means there are fewer students competing for the funds, which means their odds of being selected increase. Your student can search for professional organizations by entering the name of the city and their target field or major into a search engine along with phrases like “professional association.”
Local businesses may also have scholarship opportunities to which your child can apply. Anything from local utility companies, doctor’s and lawyer’s offices, and banks or credit unions may have funds available. If there is a particular business you or your family frequent, have your high schooler ask if they offer scholarships. One example we recently heard of was one of our families went to the dermatologist, started to discuss college, and discovered the dermatologist offered a scholarship!
Another source of local scholarships may be available from a variety of entertainment sources. Area television and radio stations may offer scholarships, especially for kids interested in entering the field. However, some opportunities may be open to anyone residing in their viewing or listening area.
Also, don’t be afraid to check with your or your spouse’s employer about opportunities. In some cases, businesses have scholarships that are only available to their employees and their family members, making the pool of eligible applicants fairly small.
Cities, counties, and states all have the ability to fund local scholarships for students in their area. If your child is intending to stay in the area while going to college, have them check with your local Department of Education offices about opportunities that may be available to residents. Many of these departments have information on their websites as well.
Many religious organizations offer scholarships to their members. If your family regularly attends services at a particular church, synagogue, mosque, or another religious facility, consider having your student ask the organization’s leadership if any funds are set aside for high education.
And Many More Local Scholarships
Essentially, any group in your local area might offer a scholarship. Sometimes, the only way to find out is to ask. When it comes down to it, the risk associated with asking is just being told nothing is available. And, in the best case, your student may find out about a little-known opportunity that can help them get ahead.
If you are new to the scholarship game and want to learn how your child can access the most opportunities, join our free webinar to learn more! We cover even more places to uncover scholarships that your child is actually eligible for (and don’t require perfect GPAs or insane athletic skills.) Go to http://www.thescholarshipsystem.com/freewebinar to see when we are holding the next one!
In the end, it is better to apply for every scholarship for which your child is eligible because there is no such thing as too much scholarship money for college.