Find a scholarship that fits
Yoo-hoo, all University of Washington-bound Ballard High students with the last name of Anderson: There's scholarship money waiting for you. If your name happens to be Andersen...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Yoo-hoo, all University of Washington-bound Ballard High students with the last name of Anderson: There's scholarship money waiting for you.
If your name happens to be Andersen with an "e," you're also eligible for the funds left by 1931 Ballard graduate Regina Anderson.
As for the rest of you all you Smiths, Steins, Soyemis and DeSotos you're out of luck.
But not to worry. "There's an incredible universe of scholarships out there," says Douglas Breithaupt, president of the Seattle-based College Planning Network, a nonprofit that oversees $170,000 in scholarships and publishes The Pacific Northwest Scholarship Guide.
Indeed, there's even one for students with mediocre GPAs. Honest. Those with a perfect 4.0 need not apply.
Some tips on unearthing scholarships that are a good fit:
1. Create a personal profile. Is your dad a union member? Are you in a band? The more traits you can list, the greater your odds of finding funds.
3. Stop by your school counseling office. You'll find scholarship books, databases and helpful advice from a counselor. From there, you might also try your local library, a nearby college's financial-aid office or the Center for Student Success at the foot of Queen Anne.
4. Look for small applicant pools. High-profile national scholarship funds, like the $20,000 Coca-Cola scholarship, attract thousands of applicants. Your odds are better with a local, less-publicized award. To learn the size of the pool, ask the scholarship contact how many applied last year.
5. Work the phone. You may discover that your mom's workplace or your dad's club offers a scholarship or your call might even prompt them to start one.
6. Consider contests. Many inventor's competitions, essay contests and cook-offs come with scholarship money. The Art Institute of Seattle, for example, hosts an annual cook-off that awards full or partial tuition to the winners.
7. Apply for several. "If you can identify 10 solid scholarship leads, you have a decent chance of getting one," Breithaupt says. Sounds daunting, but many funders ask applicants for identical info and ask similar essay questions.
8. Take care with your essay. Avoid going over your activities and honors again; write about your passions, your roots. And tell a story. If you're writing about your work with the Special Olympics, forget telling about the program's attributes (anyone can get that from a brochure). Zero in a particular Saturday and your relationship with one particular child.
9. Recruit backers. You'll want somewhat-objective references who can speak to different parts of you say, your geometry teacher and the director of the soup kitchen where you volunteer. Again, you don't want a cold list of your activities, but rather letters that talk more personally about you.
10. Report winnings. Schools are required to lower aid offerings to students who receive private scholarships. But most will reduce your loan amount rather than your grants.
If a college does subtract the money from your grant, "Make a fuss," Breithaupt says. "Chances are the school will reconsider or at least negotiate."
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