- Protect your privacy
Consider opening a free email account through another provider, separate from your IU and other personal accounts. By using a separate account when requesting information or registering for scholarship search engines, you can increase your privacy while making your inboxes easier to manage.
There are some excellent web resources out there, but some sites are really just marketing ploys or phishing schemes. Use extreme caution when it comes to your Social Security number and other personal information.
- Combine Awards
It is more common for students to receive smaller awards of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars than to receive a “full ride,” but these smaller amounts can add up. We’ve seen students apply for dozens of scholarships and cobble together thousands of dollars of free aid comprised of smaller awards.
- Develop an application portfolio
Once you’ve assembled application materials for one scholarship (letters of recommendation, essay responses, resumé, and so on), you can reconstitute much of this material for other award applications. The more awards you apply for, the more developed your application portfolio becomes, and the easier it is to apply for additional awards.
Keep hard copy folders of any awards that require submission of hard copy materials. Keep a folder on your computer for materials submitted electronically, and back everything up.
- Apply early
Make note of award application deadlines: assemble all application materials a couple of weeks early, in case you encounter a snag that takes time to resolve.
- Tailor your research
Some awards are need-based, some are merit-based, some are awarded based on these and/or other factors.
People from certain backgrounds or demographic groups—e.g., women entering a science or healthcare field, African Americans, first generation college students, those pursuing certain degrees or professions, and many other backgrounds—can be eligible for additional scholarships. Look for such awards as you research.
- Letters of recommendation
Some awards require letters of recommendation. Here are a few ways to make the process of getting letters of recommendation easier on yourself, and your recommenders:
- Ask recommenders to avoid mentioning the name of a given award so that you can more easily use the same letter for other award applications.
- Allow recommenders as much time as possible to write their letter; optimally, six or eight weeks before you must submit the application.
- If possible, keep in touch with recommenders in case they are willing to write future letters or update previous ones for additional awards.