Nothing in life is free

Meranda Watling

Scholarships pay off if you take the time to search, apply

Paying for school can be quite difficult, but if one goes out to look for scholarships a higher education could come with a smaller price tag.

Credit: Meranda Watling

There are scholarships for left-handed students, bisexual students, tall students, commuter students, etc.

There are thousands of scholarships available for the student willing to take the time to search and apply.

“You have to be a live consumer,” said Conni Dubick, associate director of student financial aid. “As long as you’re a college or grad student, you should be applying for scholarships.”

Spring is prime time to apply for scholarships, Dubick said. A lot of groups have deadlines in the spring, so they can award scholarships for the fall. It’s also when students are filling out their FAFSA forms.

Filling out the FAFSA is a good place to start, Dubick said. But it won’t meet all of a student’s needs.

“Students read about the Pell Grant being cut and tuition rising in the newspaper. That should be a cue to them that they need to be looking for other sources of money,” Dubick said.

“Students and families have to pull together several sources to meet the cost of college. Federal and state funding has probably plateaued, it’s been the same and probably will be for a while.”

Although the date to apply for university scholarships on Kent State’s financial aid Web site ( has passed, there are still many external scholarships available to applicants.

Looking online is one of the best-known scholarship searches online, Dubick said. With 600,000 scholarships in its database, you can cast your net as wide or as narrow as you like to maximize your results.

Fastweb, and similar online scholarship search sites, narrow your scholarship listings based on your responses to an initial survey. The survey includes questions about your race, gender, major, college, interests and activities.

Jenna Heinaman, sophomore integrated social studies major, said she has trouble finding scholarships she is eligible for at Kent State.

“I’ve used Fastweb since I was in high school,” she said. “They do offer a few more opportunities to other people that the university doesn’t offer.”

You can go through the results to find the specifics of the scholarships including when it’s due and how much it’s worth.

“There are all kinds of scholarships — athletic, merit, religious, community,” Dubick said. “That’s why people need to look everywhere.”

Jumping-off point

Use the results of your online search as a jumping-off point to find more possible sources for scholarships, Dubick said.

“It’s a starting point to say, ‘If these groups are giving scholarships, then maybe other companies are,’” she said. “More and more groups are trying to offer scholarships because they know it’s valuable.”

The more people you tell you are looking for scholarships, the more you’ll find.

“You have to let people know you’re looking for scholarships,” Dubick said. “They might see something in the newspaper or on the church bulletin board or in the company newsletter.”

Andrew Hansen, sophomore art education major, said last year he got a $500 scholarship he wouldn’t have known about if his mother hadn’t told him.

“It was for Cleveland employees,” he said. “Basically, my mom just told me about it, so I wrote a short essay and sent in the application, and I got it.”

“But I don’t have time”

The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances are of getting one.

“When students say, ‘I’ve done 20 applications.’ I say do 40 or 60 or 80,” Dubick said. “When looking for free money, that’s what scholarships are, you have to really work hard and be creative.”

Dubick said many students cite lack of time as the reason they don’t apply for scholarships. She recommends setting aside one to two hours each week specifically to work on scholarships.

“It’s certainly worth students’ time if they build it in their schedule,” she said. “They are really putting themselves in a position where they might get a scholarship. They’re not just sitting around worrying about it but being proactive.”

Deadlines vary for each scholarship, which Dubick said is “one of the most frustrating things” about them.

“The deadlines vary for departments and external scholarships. It could be anytime. It could be April or June,” she said. “I frequently say, ‘If you miss a deadline, you ought to try for it anyway.’ You never know. The worst that could happen is you don’t get it.”

The Financial Aid Office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They accept walk-ins, but students can also call ahead and make an appointment for a specific time. The phone number is (330) 672-2972.

Contact technology reporter Meranda Watling at [email protected].