The best advice I can give any parent of a college-bound teen is to start the scholarship process EARLY. Don’t wait until senior year and scramble around trying to find scholarships. You and your teen will have enough on your plate at this point in the process. Start requesting applications during freshman year for scholarships you hope to apply for in later years. Pay special attention to the kind of questions that are asked of you down the road. What can you do now to help effectively answer those questions? The bottom line is that by starting early enough you can affect almost any aspect of your record. If you work hard and start early, nothing can stand in the way of your scholarship success. As with any search, you need to formulate a plan.

Here are 10 tips for your scholarship search:

Assemble your scholarship search tools-Having the right tools makes all the difference. Begin with a good filing system and a wall calendar to keep track of application dates.
Search scholarship databases-Online scholarship databases are an invaluable tool in the search. Start your search at Scholarships360 or
Check into other schools’ resources-If you live near a community college or better yet, a university, you can utilize them as additional resources. They have libraries and scholarship listings that might be unique to your area.
Utilize your school’s resources-Counselors are great resources for your scholarship search. Scholarships come across their desks every day and most of them have scholarship application forms available for the asking.
Search your community-Every community has local organizations that offer scholarships to local students.
Don’t forget government sources-Believe it or not, the U.S. Government also offers scholarships to high school students heading to college.
Pursue all personal and family affiliations-Brainstorm about your family and scholarship opportunities that are specific to you.
Apply effective Internet search techniques-Follow the primary trail to secondary trails. Many times there will be less well-known scholarships lurking in the shadows of the primary trail. How does this translate: the less that know about the scholarship, the less applications, the greater your chances of winning.
Uncover school specific awards-Most colleges have scholarships that are only available to their students. Research the colleges you are contemplating attending and find out what types of scholarships are available. You may have to fill out a separate application when you apply to the college.
Search organizations-Go to the library and ask the reference librarian for an Encyclopedia of Organizations. Make note of any scholarship opportunities that are listed that might pertain to you or your family.

Scholarship money is FREE money. For every scholarship dollar your teen wins, that is one less dollar you will have to pay back after graduation or hope for in the financial aid package. Devoting time to scholarship searching can pay off with big dividends.

This is a guest post from Suzanne Shaffer of Parents Countdown to College Coach.
Her advice helps parents navigate the college maze by providing the right tools for organization and success.

You can also follow Suzanne on Twitter and Facebook!


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