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Scholarships are awards of money that can help students fund a college education.  Scholarships do not typically have to be paid back, though students may have to meet certain performance expectations or commitments to maintain a scholarship.  Scholarships are awarded based on criteria set by the scholarship provider.  Some typical criteria include:

  • Merit (academic achievement, GPA, class rank, test scores, etc.)
  • Need (family’s financial situation)
  • Talent (athletic ability, artistic talent, etc.)
  • Affiliation (member of ABC Church, child of Rotary Club  member, for example)
  • Condition (diabetic, left handed, child of cancer survivor, etc.) 


Researching scholarships can be a full-time job.  Students should start scholarship researching scholarships in their first year of high school – especially “full ride” scholarships – so they can use their time wisely in high school and prepare themselves to be the best possible applicants later.  Typically, however, students don’t think about scholarships until their senior year of high school.  Here are some tips for researching scholarships:

  • Start early – more time means more options
  • Get organized – keep a calendar of deadlines, keep a notebook or file system
  • Seek help early – give your supporters plenty of time to respond, be sure to thank them
  • Actively research – scholarship information will not just come to you, you must seek it
  • Expand research – HS counselor, college financial aid office, civic groups, employers, etc.
  • Don’t pay – never pay for scholarship information or to apply for scholarships
  • Keep materials on hand – transcripts, recommendation letters, resume, test scores, etc.
  • Follow instructions – do exactly what you are asked to do – no more, no less
  • Proofread – check for clarity of content, legibility, accuracy & completeness
  • Submit early – being early makes a favorable impression
  • Keep copies – hold onto a copy of everything you send & record date sent
  • Be patient & persevere – it takes a lot of work & effort and there are no guarantees


Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch may be eligible for fee waivers to help pay for the ACT, SAT and/or college application fees.  If you qualify for and need this assistance, please see your school counselor.  There are several types of waivers available which may meet your needs.  Some of those include but are not limited to:


The most important step you can take in your college and scholarship search and application process is know your key dates and deadlines.  The best time to get a handle on this is in August before you senior year starts.  By this time, most colleges have updated their websites with information for your graduating class.  Some of the deadlines you want to get on your calendar are:


  • Request PIN – go to & request a PIN number for parents & student
  • Prepare taxes early – parents/guardians & student file as soon after January 1 as possible
  • Apply estimated – you can estimate your income if you haven’t yet filed your taxes
  • Apply early – submit your FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible, money runs out early
  • Apply anyway – even if you don’t think you will get $ because colleges/scholarships use the data
  • Follow up – quickly provide any supporting documents that are requested by the FAFSA folks
  • Contact colleges – the financial aid office at your colleges may require additional information


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College Foundation of NC (CFNC) -
Common Application -
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) -
FastWeb -
Profile (College Board Financial Aid Form) -   
Scholarship Plus - -
School Soup -