In a few weeks>, high school seniors will start receiving college financial aid packages for the 2010-11 academic year. Those who are concerned that their aid won t cover their costs should consider applying for third-party scholarships. Although most scholarship deadlines have passed, many are still available and can net a qualifying student as much as $100,000.
Scholarships can help students bridge the gap between their financial aid package and their tuition. And, unlike most aid programs, scholarships are often geared toward specific types of students like those with a certain major, talent or background. Such requirements can limit the competition.
Of course, not every scholarship will benefit every student. Federal law requires colleges to reduce need-based aid to students who receive scholarships. Most colleges have outside-scholarship policies, and they ll often reduce a student s college grants or work-study funds when the student receives a scholarship. In some cases, a student s Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (a need-based, undergraduate grant program funded by the federal government) or Perkins loan (a need-based low-interest loan by the federal government) can be reduced.
Students should contact the colleges they re serious about attending to find out their policies. Colleges' policies can benefit both the student and the school, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FastWeb.com, a free scholarship-matching service. For example, say you get $3,000 of outside scholarships and your financial aid package includes grants and loans. A typical college policy would eliminate $1,500 of grants and $1,500 of loans. Under this scenario, the student is better off with a scholarship because he ends up with a smaller loan without risking free aid.
Scholarships are ideal for students whose financial aid packages are made up solely of loans because, in most cases, they ll be able to substitute this free money (at least partially) for the loans. So scholarships typically offer more flexibility to students who are trying to decide what college to attend. For example, scholarships could make a school offering only federal student loans more affordable than the school offering a mixture of grants and loans.
Here are eight scholarships that are still accepting applications from high school seniors.
Do Something Awards
Deadline: March 1
Top prize: $100,000 ($5,000 may be applied toward college tuition; the remaining amount is donated to the cause of the winner s choice)
The nonprofit DoSomething.org is largely funded by corporations including Aeropostale, VH1 and Pepsi. The organization s goal is to inspire young people to take action around the causes they care about, says Jordyn Wells, director of social entrepreneurship at DoSomething.org.
Eligible applicants must be 25 or under and tackling a cause by running their own organization or being a leading advocate. To apply, you ll need to fill out an application, which includes four essays in which the applicant outlines their inspiration for the project, its impact and what they plan to do with the money. Applicants will also need to post their project s goals on the nonprofit s web site. Five awards of $10,000 each will be given. Recipients can use up to $5,000 of their award as scholarship money for college, while the other half must go toward their cause. Of these five recipients, one will win the grand prize of an additional $90,000 for a total of $100,000 (the amount that can go toward college remains $5,000). Last year, the program received 650 applications.
Lunar New Year Essay Contest
Source: Verizon Wireless
Deadline: March 12
Top prize: $5,000, plus cellphone and credit
Source: Allstate Foundation
Deadline: March 20
Top prize: $3,000
These awards encourage teens to report on the dangers of texting while driving. They re organized by the Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by contributions from Allstate subsidiaries.
Applicants must choose between submitting to the print and broadcast categories. Submitting to the print category requires at least one article about texting and driving written by the student and published in their high school newspaper. Submitting to the broadcast category requires that the student have written and produced at least one segment that aired within the high school. Ten awards will be given five in print and five in broadcast. For each category, the grand prize is $3,000; second place is $2,000; third place is $1,000; fourth place is $750; and fifth place is $500. This is the second year of these awards. Last year, the foundation received 400 entries.
National High School Essay Contest
Source: American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)
Deadline: April 15
Top prize: $2,500 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet the secretary of state
This association advises the president and secretary of state about foreign relations. Its members include U.S. employees who work at embassies and consulates abroad.
This contest, now in its 11th year, requires high school students to write an essay on an American foreign-service issue. (Students can use the money in any way they d like, including paying for college.) This year, applicants are asked to write about specific international issues that will pose challenges to American Foreign Services this century. The contest is open to all high school students whose parents aren t in the Foreign Service. The winner will receive $2,500 and the winner s school will get $500. The winner and two family members will also be given a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, assuming her schedule permits, says Perri Green, the special awards and outreach coordinator at AFSA. (If she s not available, the student will likely meet with the deputy secretary of state, James Steinberg, she says.) The contest drew 350 applications last year. Previous essay topics have included cross-border security, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and human rights in China.
The Fountainhead Essay Contest
Source: Ayn Rand Institute
Deadline: April 26
Top prize: $10,000
Click here The essay must be between 800 and 1,600 words. Essays will be judged on style, content and clear and articulate writing. The top prize is $10,000; there are also five second-place prizes of $2,000 and 10 third-place prizes of $1,000. Forty-five finalists will receive $100 and 175 semi-finalists will receive $50. High school juniors can also apply.
Deadline: May 31
Top prize: $1,000 and supplies
Paint supplier Krylon s scholarship program is open to high school seniors and college freshmen and sophomores with a declared major in a visual arts program (like painting or drawing). Applicants must submit a portfolio with three to six images of their artwork, a statement including reasons for wanting to be an artist, a letter of recommendation, and transcript. Five $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to the top five applicants, along with Krylon products that have a retail value of around $70. The recipients high schools will each get $500 grants and $250 worth of Krylon products. Last year, 388 students applied.
Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program
Source: Davidson Institute
Deadline: March 3, 2010
Top prize: $50,000
This awards program recognizes students who are younger than 18 (as of Oct. 2) and have made a positive contribution to science, technology, math, music, literature or philosophy. Requirements for each category vary; applicants in the science category must show a project in a specific area like physics, biology or medicine. Music applicants must submit a portfolio that reflects their talent as a composer, vocalist or instrumentalist.
Each category is reviewed by a different judging panel made up of university professors and PhDs from that field, says Tacie Moessner, the Davidson Fellows program manager. They are looking for a standard of excellence that the student s work is generally at the college graduate level and has potential to benefit society, she says. The top awards are $50,000 scholarships followed by $25,000 and $10,000. The institute doesn t set the number of awards it intends to give out; last year, Davidson gave out 19 awards, including three at the $50,000 level. The institute doesn t disclose the number of applications it receives, but Moessner says music, literature and science are the most popular fields. Davidson is a nonprofit and its stated mission is to support gifted students.
Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology
Source: Siemens Foundation and the College Board
Deadline: Oct. 1, 2010
Top prize: $100,000 (plus winnings from regional level)
a nonprofit whose parent company is Siemens ) awards scholarships each year to high school students who display talent in a project related to science, technology, engineering and math.
The application process includes a research report, a synopsis of the problem, methods, results and conclusions, and a list of references. Students can apply individually or submit a team project. Following the initial judging process, regional finalists in six U.S. regions present their research and one individual and one team (of two to three people) from each region win; individuals get a $3,000 scholarship and teams get a $6,000 scholarship to split evenly. Winners then present their research at the national competition. Twelve awards are given out six for individual submissions and six to teams. The first place winner is given $100,000; second place gets $50,000; third, $40,000; fourth, $30,000; fifth, $20,000; and sixth, $10,000. The competition is a program of the Siemens Foundation and administered by the College Board.