Show Me the Money! Part 2: Scholarships

 

By RENE TREZISE, Director of Marketing and Communications, Potomac State College

 

Scholarships can be described as free money for college. This form of financial aid is extremely attractive to students and their families because the money need not be repaid.

 

Scholarship eligibility is as diverse as the number of scholarships available across the nation. Don’t count yourself out for a scholarship if your academic performance hasn’t been ideal or your family can’t demonstrate financial need. Scholarships are awarded to students based on religious affiliation, minority status, heritage, community affiliations, or a unique set of criteria that is important to the organization providing funds. Also, there are scholarship sources not only for new students but also returning students as well as undergraduate and graduate students.

 

Your scholarship search should begin with your high school counselor, include a visit to your local library, check with your parents’ place of employment and inquire with any ethnic organization or religious denomination with which you are involved. 

 

Also, check with the admissions or financial aid office at each college you are interested in attending regarding their policies on applying for institutional scholarships.  Some colleges, such as Potomac State College of WVU, only require that you be admitted by a certain date (Feb. 15) to receive priority consideration for scholarships.  Other colleges have separate scholarship applications.  Again, high school counselors often have valuable information about college scholarships as well.

 

The interactive Web site WV Mentor http://www.wvmentor.org offers the world’s largest, free scholarship search featuring more than one million scholarships worth more than $3.1 billion.

 

Keep in mind that some scholarships may require applicants to write an essay, pass a written exam, or complete a project demonstrating their potential. A good resource for “How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay” is available at http://www.wiredscholar.com/.

 

When filling out applications keep these points in mind:

 

1.) Be honest about your grades, experiences, memberships, qualifications, family finances, and other information.

 

2.) Observe deadlines and even try to submit your applications early.

 

3.) Only apply for the scholarships in which you know you meet the minimum requirements. It is better to spend time applying for scholarships for which you qualify.

 

4.) Supplement your application with personal letters of recommendation.

 

5.) Follow up with a telephone call to make sure the organization received your application.

 

6.) Most importantly, remember to send thank you notes to organizations funding your scholarships.

 

To follow are the major scholarship programs in West Virginia:

 

PROMISE is a merit-based scholarship program that provides a full tuition and fee scholarship to a public college or university in West Virginia or the dollar equivalence to a WV private college or university to qualified students. Scholarships are renewable up to eight semesters. Deadline is January 31. FAFSA must be received by March 1.

 

Engineering, Science & Technology Scholarship attracts talented students to pursue degrees in engineering, science or technology and assists the state in retaining a highly skilled workforce. The award range is up to $3,000. Deadline is March 1.

 

Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship enables and encourages outstanding students to pursue teaching careers in West Virginia. The award range is up to $5,000. Deadline is March 1, and application is currently limited to college students.

 

Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship promotes student excellence, achievement and recognizes exceptionally able students who show promise of continued excellence. The award range is up to $1,500. Deadline is March 1.

 

To learn more about any of the scholarship programs listed above, visit http://www.hepc.wvnet.edu/.

 

Additional Resources:

 

All “Tips for the College Bound” columns are available at http://www.newstribune.info 

http://www.wvapply.com - WV Apply, Admission and Financial Aid Information

WV Mentor http://www.wvmentor.org

 

Mineral County Technical Center at http://mctc.mine.tec.wv.us/college.htm (304-788-4240)

Potomac State College of West Virginia University at http://www.potomacstatecollege.edu or (304-788-6820 or toll free: 1-800-262-7332)

 

Eastern Community and Technical College at http://www.eastern.wvnet.edu (304-434-8000; or toll free: 1-877-982-2322)

 

Community and Technical College System of West Virginia at http://www.wvtechprpe.wvnet.edu (304-558-2411)