The cost of a post-secondary education can be astronomical but it doesn’t have to be! Use the resources below to help your mentee identify opportunities for scholarships, grants, and other assistance.
A scholarship is money given to a student to help him or her pay for their post-secondary education. Scholarships, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid by the student. Colleges and organizations often award scholarships for the following reasons:
- Academic: These awards are based on a student’s academic abilities, and often factor in an applicant’s extracurricular activities and community service record.
- Need-based: These awards are based on the student and family’s financial record and generally 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.
- Career-specific: These are scholarships a college or university awards to students who plan to pursue a specific field of study, such as education, nursing, or science.
TeamMates provides scholarships to mentees through the generosity of donors and our post-secondary partnerships. For a full list of scholarships specifically for TeamMates mentees, see the scholarships page.
The resources below guide students on how to use the right format, wording, and language when applying for scholarships. Many scholarship applications request students to write a personal essay or statement. Personal essays typically include a one paragraph introduction, two body paragraphs, and a one paragraph conclusion. Some essays ask students to answer specific questions and others allow students to write about a topic of their own choosing. Always make sure your mentee has read the requirements before putting together an essay.
Personal essays give students a chance to present themselves as individuals. These essays generally include background information, experiences, or goals that are unique and help the mentee stand out from other applicants. Many personal essays are used to:
- relate a personal experience or moment
- connect your mentee’s past, present and future
- present a distinct point of view
- relate your mentee’s goals
- describe unique life experiences
- explain why your mentee chose this particular school or opportunity
- illustrate your mentee’s commitment to a cause
Before writing your personal essay, check out the Guide to Writing a Personal Essay.
Letters of Recommendation
College and scholarship applications generally ask for two or three letters of recommendation. These letters should be written by someone who can expand on your mentee’s skills, accomplishments, work ethic, personally, and aspirations. Letters of recommendation are valuable to scholarship and admission committees because they:
- go beyond test scores and grades.
- provide personal opinions about an applicant’s character, motivation, and potential.
- show who is willing to vouch for an applicant.
Letters of recommendation help your mentee by presenting him or her in the best possible light, showcasing unique talents and relationships that will help your mentee be successful. Use the guides below to help your mentee ask for letters of recommendation or to write a letter on your mentee’s behalf.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form used by prospective college students to determine their eligibility for student financial aid which includes Pell Grant, Federal Student Loans, and Federal Work Study. For the 2016-17 school year students can receive up to $5,815. The application period begins on October 1st for the upcoming academic year. Students are advised to submit a FAFSA as early as possible for consideration for maximum financial assistance.
Types of Federal Student Aid
- Pell Grants are aid money that students do not have to pay back and are usually awarded based off of financial need.
- 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.
Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree and do not have to be repaid. If your mentee is eligible for a Pell Grant, he or she will receive the full amount for which he or she qualifies. The amount of student aid your mentee qualifies for does not affect the amount of the Pell Grant he or she receives. To learn more about Pell Grants, check out the Federal Student Aid website.
When your mentee applies for financial aid, student loans will likely be included as part of the financial aid package provided by the school. Mentees who need to take out loans should always start with Federal student loans, rather than student loans through private lenders. 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 your mentee qualifies 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.