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Helpful Hints on Scholarship Hunting for Military Students

Scholarships are some of the most important financial topics to discuss when considering attending a college or university. For prospective military students, winning a scholarship may mean the difference between attending school full time or not because GI benefits and tuition assistance may not cover the complete cost of tuition for some schools. Luckily, scholarships are available to almost anyone going to school.

Finding scholarships can be as difficult as writing winning applications, but by putting in the time and effort to find scholarships appropriate for you, you can save yourself many hours of frustration later.

1. Understand What Scholarships are Available

Scholarships are offered to nearly everyone interested in attending college. From athletic and academic scholarships to awards specific to heritage, special skills, handicaps and military veterans, there are numerous variations of scholarships to be awarded to anyone willing to apply. Finding scholarships particular to your veteran status will not difficult if you can put in the work.

2. Figure out Where to Look

The first thing you need to know about finding scholarships for military students is where to look for them. The financial aid office at a college of interest is a good place to start. Speak with a financial aid representative about scholarships the school offers as well as other scholarships available, particularly ones that are military-focused. Speak with fellow military students about their experiences with scholarships, i.e. where they looked, what scholarships they received, etc. The Internet is another great place to find scholarships opportunities. Many organizations have areas on their websites dedicated to discussing the scholarship opportunities they provide.

3. Begin Searching Early

The biggest mistake a prospective student can make is to wait to apply for scholarships. Scholarship awards have deadlines for applications, many of which are very early in the year, and require essays, documentation, proof of specifications and more. The earlier you begin your scholarship search the more likely you'll be to win.

4. Apply for Both School and Private Scholarships

Begin your scholarships application process by finding scholarships given by your school(s) of choice. After you've got those, search for private scholarships. These are generally given by corporations, organizations and other community providers and leaders. Private scholarships can generally be found in scholarship directories that are updated yearly, but they usually include special instructions or have payment methods and application requirements specific to the scholarship.

5. Don't Forget Your Community

Look to your community for scholarship help. Many national military organizations offer scholarships via small community organizations. Ask around your community for these opportunities, as well as others including employee dependent scholarships, “Friends-of-the-Community” scholarships and local bank scholarships.

6. Stay Organized

Aside from finding the right scholarships, keeping them organized and ensuring you meet all deadlines is imperative. Keep files of your scholarships, including separating them between “not complete,” “applied” and “awaiting response.”

7. Beware of Scholarship Scams

There are plenty of legitimate scholarship opportunities available, but because many of them may charge a fee for application processing, it can be easy to mistake a fraudulent scholarship for a real one. Be wary of these scams by researching scholarships intensely and try contacting a person directly from the organization to avoid falling victim to a fake award.

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