Scholarship Season is Here: Is Your High Schooler Ready?

Updated: 01/30/2013 7:22 AM KSTP.com By: Becky Nahm

Can your high schooler make a dress out of duct tape?

Does he or she speak another language? Like say, Klingon?

Students who can earn scholarship money.

From the wacky to the traditional there are scholarships available.

You could call this scholarship season. Many application deadlines start popping up now and continue through April and May.

Minnesota-based Scholarship America writes the Scholarship Coach blog for US News and World Report. We asked the organization's CEO for advice.

Finding a Scholarship

Scholarship America President and CEO Lauren Segal says, when searching for scholarships online be specific. For example, marching band members shouldn't limit their searches to terms like scholarship and music. Instead Google terms like scholarships and trumpet, or whatever instrument they play.

If a student has already selected their major, search for scholarships within that specific field of study.

Also talk to civic groups, churches, high school counselors, the schools the students will be attending and their parents employers about scholarships they offer.

Search web sites like ScholarshipAmerica.org and FastWeb.com for scholarships.

Watch an extended clip of our interview with Segal here.

Preparing to Land a Scholarship

Once a student has identified scholarships, Segal suggests marking application deadlines on a calendar. She also says applicants should note how to apply either by mail, Fed Ex or email.

She suggests gathering information and filling out forms you may need for multiple applications, like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid which alerts organizations to your financial need.

Segal says scoring a scholarship is like applying for a job, "Don't expect that you can wait until the last minute and put in your application for one or two things and it's going to go your way."

Be a Serious Competitor

Segal says to make sure to follow the application rules and set aside plenty of time to work on the essay or other requirements.

"If they are asking for a two page essay, don't do a five-page essay you'll automatically get weeded out," she says.

She says applicants who don't feel panicked will likely do a better job.

"You're not alone in applying for these scholarships and each year as the cost of college gets higher and the economy has been tight the number of the number of applicants for every single scholarship goes up."

Ask Questions

Segal says students should be aware some grants require repayment and many scholarships are only for one year. So students should ask plenty of questions to understand what they have earned.

She says students also need to know about displacement. Some universities and colleges will offer a student a certain amount of scholarship money. But, if that student earns a private scholarship, the school might deduct the amount of the private scholarship from its offer.

Scholarships for Older Students

While many scholarships are offered to freshmen, there are a growing number of scholarships available to other students, including those returning to school later in life.

To find these scholarships, search the following keywords.
- renewable scholarships
- second-year scholarships
- sophomore scholarships
- junior scholarships
- senior scholarships
- community college scholarships
- technical school scholarships
- second-year students scholarships