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Finding Outside Scholarship Money
Outside scholarships are awards from non federal, state or institutional sources; for example, a scholarship from Rotary International or the local Horticultural Society.
There are two basic strategies for finding outside scholarship money that we recommend:
- Using the Web to conduct free searches
- Calling local clubs, organizations and small businesses to see if they offer scholarships (many do!)
It is important to note, however, that different schools may have different policies on how they apply outside scholarships to your financial aid package. COA's policy is listed at the bottom of this page.
Searching the Web...
There are literally millions of dollars of scholarship money available throughout the US - all you have to do is figure out where it is and whether you meet the criteria for submitting an application.
Many Websites offer free searches. Two examples include www.fastweb.com and the College Board's site, www.collegeboard.com. Generally, you answer a few questions and then the site will suggest certain scholarships that you might consider applying to. We recommend that you check the privacy policies of any search sites to ensure you are comfortable with them.
Beware of organizations that try to charge a fee for searches. While they may be reputable, there is plenty of free help available from other sources!
The local connection
Consider calling every club, organization and even small businesses in your town, city or county. You may be surprised at how many offer scholarships — you just need to find out whether you meet qualifications. For example, the Italian-American Society may offer scholarship money but you must be at least part Italian-American to qualify.
Some outside scholarships are merit-based (independent of financial need) but most are need-based or a combination of both. They may ask for confirmation of your need or they may ask you to write an essay... just be sure to provide what they ask for and meet all deadlines if you wish to be considered.
COA's outside scholarship policy
At COA, we have a generous policy in dealing with outside scholarships:
If a student applies for an outside scholarship and notifies us by July 1 of the award year, we will apply 100% of the amount awarded towards any unmet need. In the event that unmet need is then met and an over award* exists, we will reduce self-help aid (work study and/or loans) before any reductions in institutional aid are made.
* When a student's EFC (expected family contribution) plus their financial aid package exceeds the cost of attendance, this is know as an "over award". You cannot have more resources than the cost of the school if certain federal, state or other types of aid are involved. Therefore, in an over award situation, the financial package must be modified and this is one area where school policies may vary.
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