The cost of a post-secondary education can seem astronomical, but it doesn’t have to be! Look through the resources below to identify opportunities for scholarships, grants, and other financial assistance.
A scholarship is money given to a student to help pay for a post-secondary or training education. Most scholarships are paid directly to the student’s post-secondary school, and scholarship never have to be repaid by the student. Organizations, Colleges, and other programs often grant scholarships to students for the following reasons:
- Academic: Based on a student’s academic abilities, and often factor in an applicant’s extracurricular activities, community service record, GPA, or scores on standardized tests (ACT, SAT, etc.)
- Need-based: Depend on the student and family’s financial record and require applicants to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify.
- Student-specific: These are scholarships for which applicants must initially qualify based upon gender, race, religion, family and medical history, or many other student-specific factors. Minority scholarships are the most common awards in this category.
- Career-specific: These are scholarships a college or university awards to students who plan to pursue a specific field of study. Often, the most generous awards are to students who pursue careers in high-need areas such as education, nursing, engineering, or agriculture.
- College-specific: College-specific scholarships are offered by individual colleges and universities to highly qualified applicants. These scholarships may come from the students’ specific college or from the college as a whole.
TeamMates also provides scholarships to mentees through the generosity of donors and our post-secondary partnerships. For a full list of all scholarships available to TeamMates Mentees, visit the Scholarship Page.
The resources below guide students on how to use the right format, wording, and language when applying for scholarships. Many scholarship applications request that you write a personal essay or statement. Specific questions may be provided for you to answer, or in some cases you will have the freedom to write about the topic of your choice. Be sure to read all essay requirements before starting writing an essay.
The personal essay serves as a writing sample and a chance for you to present yourself as an individual. It should be personal, which includes a personal background, personal experiences, and personal goals and aspirations.
You can focus your essay to:
- Relate a personal experience or moment in your life
- Connect your past, present and future
- Present a distinct point of view
- Relate your goals
- Describe unique life experiences
- Explain why you chose this particular school or opportunity
- Illustrate your commitment to a cause
Before writing your personal essay, check out the Guide to Writing a Personal Essay.
Letters of Recommendation
Most scholarships and post-secondary schools often ask for two or three recommendation letters from people who know you well. These letters should be written by someone who can describe your skills, accomplishments, work ethic, personality, and future goals. Scholarships and post-secondary schools value recommendations because they:
- Reveal things about you that grades and test scores can’t.
- Provide personal opinions of your character, motivation, and future potential.
- Show who is willing to speak on your behalf
Letters of recommendation work on your behalf when they present you in the best possible light, showcasing that you have what it takes whether through skill or resilience to benefit from that particular scholarship or post-secondary school
Before asking for a recommendation, learn How to Request a Letter a Recommendation.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form used by prospective college students to determine their eligibility for student financial aid, including Pell Grants, Federal Student Loans, and Federal Work Study. For the 2016-17 school year students can receive up to $5,815 for their college education. The application period begins on October 1st for the upcoming academic year. Each application period is 18 months, but most aid is provided on a first come, first served basis. Students are advised to submit a FAFSA as early as possible for consideration for maximum financial assistance. Use the following guide to help you fill out your FASFA.
Types of Federal Student Aid
- Pell Grants are aid that students do not have to pay back. They are usually awarded based off of financial need.
- Scholarships are aid money that students do not have to pay back and are usually based off either their academics, financial need, involvement, athletic merit, and other specific criteria.
- Student Loans are financial aid money that must be paid back with interest.
- Work-Study Programs are jobs provided by the federal government/college to help pay for college.
Federal Pell Grants are usually awarded only to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree. Pell grants do not have to be repaid, and are usually provided to low-income undergraduate students. If your are eligible for a Pell Grant, you may be awarded up to $5815 for the 2016-2017 school year. The amount of additional student aid your qualifies for does not affect the amount of the Pell Grant you recieve. To learn more about Pell Grants, check out the Federal Student Aid website.
When you apply for financial aid, student loans will likely be included as part of the financial aid package provided by the school. Students who need to take out loans should always start with Federal student loans, rather than student loans through private lenders. Federal student loans include many benefits (such as fixed interest rates and income-based repayment plans) not typically offered with private loans. To get a federal student load, you must first complete the FASFA. Find out more about the differences between federal and private student loans.
The types of federal student loans are:
The Work-Study program provides part-time jobs for students who qualify based on financial need. Whether or not you qualify will be determined by the FAFSA. Learn more about the Work-Study program or find out a particular school participates on the Federal Student Aid website.
Financial Aid Resources
The Guide to Federal Student Aid provides information on grants, work-study, loans and other topics in regards to financial aid.
EducationQuest is an organization dedicated to helping students in Nebraska with scholarships and financial aid.
The Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) provides students in Iowa with assistance in completing the FAFSA.