Funding your technology, engineering or math (STEM) education with scholarships isn't as difficult as getting into the school of your dreams. The challenge is maintaining the tenacity to search for and submit multiple applications from multiple sources until you reach your goals.
College guidance counselors recommend a two-pronged approach that begins by submitting college applications. Federal programs are the best place to start, but don't stop there. The bulk of your search should include a combination of methods to reach your goals. Start Nationwide with FAFSA
Applying for the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) is the most important step you can take for locating scholarships. Why?
It enters you into the Federal system, enabling schools you're interested in to offer you appropriate scholarships.
It saves you time researching multitudes of grants and scholarships - you are automatically notified if you qualify and have been awarded.
It's easier to apply and submit changes in subsequent years since your application is saved.
It's easier to apply for other scholarships from outside sources since you've already compiled and summarized your personal data.
You can obtain vastly more user-friendly subsidized loans.
It's important to submit your FAFSA information as soon as you can early in the year, with an estimate based on your prior year's taxes. Don't wait until your taxes are done, since grant money is awarded to those first registered.
On the FAFSA, indicate an interest in a STEM subject even if you're not sure of your specific major. Selecting something similar enters you into a pool for consideration for other related scholarship opportunities.
Online Outside Resources
Online resources such as CollegeNet/MACH25, SallieMae, Finaid.org, Srnexpress.com, GoCollege.com, FastWEB, or the College Board have powerful search and storage features that:
Help locate scholarships for your custom interests, schools, or diverse situations
Save time researching and applying since your work is stored
Have search categories for returning students, adults, and international students.
Another helpful resource is CommonApp.com, which provides checklists of the financial aid process, stay-safe common-sense advice, and tells you which programs save your info for future years.
Local and Home Scholarships are Offline
Your best chances of landing a merit-based scholarship in a technical subject are with people you already know. Talk to family and others in your field and ask what groups they're involved in that may offer scholarships, such as employers, religious groups, or clubs. Ask counselors at your current or prior schools what STEM subject scholarships exist. Call or send a short email to ask if scholarships are offered and request more information.
They're Out There
Submit your FAFSA, compile your list of relevant scholarships, and apply. Use online search tools, being smart to review privacy policies and fees. Although some sites will charge you to register in a database or use their services, never pay a fee to apply for scholarships. Most importantly, spending time "offline" still pays off since many people providing funds may already know you.
The College Board
Federal programs are the best place to start, but don’t stop there. The bulk of your search should include a combination of methods to reach your goals.
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