Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Plan School Costs

162 posts

This fall will mark my third year moving into a dorm. At this point, I feel as though I’ve mastered the prep work needed to have a successful move in. Unfortunately for me, I had to learn some things the hard way—it’s definitely been trial and error for me during move in season.

 

My freshman year, I over-packed. While my closet looked nice, I never wore half the things that were in there. I’m such a pack rat, and that's one of the habits I had to kick so I could have a room full of things I actually needed and used. I’ll never forget the amount of space my set of luggage took in the car either (talk about tight quarters).

 

I’m so happy I found a new method of packing clothes that minimizes the surface area it takes up in the car. Since I’ve gone through this firsthand, I now have five tips for a successful college move in:

 

1. Get Rid Of Clothes You Never Wear

 

I guarantee you are not going to wear that shirt you bought but never wore back at home. If you don’t wear it now, you won’t need it at school. Getting rid of these items keeps you from over-packing and helps you declutter.

 

You really can’t pack your whole room into your dorm, so leaving anything behind will be really beneficial to you. Plus, if you can sell this stuff you don’t use, you’ll pick up some extra spending money for the upcoming semester. That’s a win-win.

 

2. Order Things To Your Dorm

 

If you’re ordering things like linens and room appliances at the last minute, send them to your school address instead of your home. Check your school’s policy on this, but mine allows you to receive items up to a week before you move in. By doing this, you’ll save space in the car and your items will be waiting for you once you are on campus.

 

3. Communicate With Roommates

 

The last thing you need is two refrigerators, microwaves, or TVs.  Speak with your roommate(s) prior to move in to see who will bring what to avoid clutter and open the lines of communication before school starts. In my freshman and sophomore years, this proved to be really helpful for me because I have a mini-fridge and a TV, so I only asked my roomies to bring their microwaves and decor.

 

4. Ditch The Suitcases For Trash Bags

 

Trash bags are life savers when it comes to moving in. Instead of packing your things in a bulky suitcase, organize clothes in white trash bags and appliances in black trash bags. This keeps you from stuffing the car with bulky containers, saving you some surface area for more things. Also, it makes the unpacking process much easier! (A cool hack is to leave clothes on hangers and simply pull the trash bag over them for easy “unpacking.”)

 

5. Have Your Paperwork Ready

 

My school is very strict about having your ID and paperwork stating the time you were given to move in. If you don’t have them on hand, you are asked to drive into a separate lane to look for your paperwork, and it can take hours to get back into the main lane for the dorm. Have these things ready beforehand (like a week in advance) to make moving in simpler. Maybe even put them in the glove compartment a day or two before you travel, just to be extra sure!

 

What dorm move-in tips do you have? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share them in the comments!

How’s your summer going, scholarship challenge participants?

 

I know July and August are supposed to be about having a good time—and sitting at your computer poring over award applications doesn’t always qualify. If you’re feeling worn out or just “done” in general with scholarships at this point, then this month’s challenge is for you.

 

It’s to have some fun.

 

giphy.gif

 

Now, I’m not talking about visiting an amusement park or anything (though you can do that as a reward for finishing this month's challenge, if you want ). What I mean is finding some enjoyment—some fun—within the scholarship application process.

 

It’s very easy and very common to get stressed out about scholarship applications. You worry about what the judges will think of you and whether you’ve said the right things in your application. As a result, we often convince ourselves that we aren’t going to win before we even apply. Does this sound familiar to you?

 

This mindset is not exactly a recipe for success. So, what is? Forget the negative, and remind yourself of the positives of the scholarship process. Remember that applying for awards is optional—and comes with no major negative consequences.

 

Think about it: To lessen the costs of your education, you made the choice to apply for scholarships (a smart choice, by the way). If you “fail” to win some, nothing catastrophic will happen. Maybe your ego takes a little hit. Maybe you take on a little more debt. You’ll survive either way.

 

Believe it or not, having a positive attitude is an important scholarship strategy. After all, if you enjoy anything, you’re more likely to stick to it—and that includes applying for scholarships. And since winning scholarships is a numbers game (the more you apply for, the better your chances are of winning one), you need to keep doing it consistently.

 

So, for this month’s challenge, select one scholarship from your list. Apply for that award, and don’t stress out about winning or losing. If a typo slips through or you don’t answer the prompt 100%, it won’t be the end of the world. Instead, focus on telling your story—and having as much fun as possible when doing so.

 

Enjoying the process may not pay off with that specific scholarship, but it will in the long run.

 

Have questions about scholarship applications you're stressing over? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post them in the comments. I'm here to help!

Once September rolls around, many students shift from paying-for-school mode to being-in-school mode. And while you may be finalizing your payments for fall semester right about now, there’s always spring semester to think about—and all the semesters after that as well.

 

Scholarship providers know this. It's why they don’t take a break from offering awards when class is in session. And you shouldn’t either! To help you start your upcoming school year with some free money, check out our list of scholarships with deadlines in September 2017.

 

Remember, this is a small sample of awards available this month. Check out our scholarship search engine to find additional scholarships that may make sense for you.

 

Apartment List Scholarship

Deadline: September 1, 2017

Amount: $500

 

Apartment List offers a $500 scholarship to any incoming or current college student (grad student included) who is a U.S. citizen. To apply, you need to answer one of the following prompts:

 

  • What have you done that exemplifies one (or more) of Apartment List’s core values?
  • What is most important to you when choosing a place to call “home”?

 

So, you probably don't live your life by Apartment List's core values by default, right? Still, looking closely at these values—which include things like “Making an Impact” and “Forever Learning”—this appears to be a great opportunity to use your existing scholarship essay. That’s especially the case if you’ve been working on your community service. The scholarship provider specifically calls out charity work as something that interests them.

 

Southwestern Tack Scholarship Program

Deadline: September 1, 2017

Amount: $500 (three awards)

 

OK, this one is technically more for horse lovers than animal lovers. Southwestern Tack offers three separate $500 scholarships, two of which are for participants in horse events. However, the third award is a bit broader. This one is for anyone interested in being a veterinarian or working with farmers or livestock as a career. If that’s you, then apply away! The site mentions no other eligibility criteria.

 

Out-Of-The-Box Thinking Scholarship

Deadline: September 15, 2017

Amount: $1,500

 

Have you ever taken your dog for a walk and thought there must be an easier way to clean up after her? Or maybe you’ve been playing with your cat and imagined an ingenious way to entertain him? Well, then this is the scholarship for you!

 

AutoPets offers three awards ($500, $1,000, and $1,500) to students who are interested in designing pet products of the future. Specifically, they want you to submit a 400-word essay that describes “a digital or physical pet product that you could bring to market to fulfill a need in an innovative way.” The only other stated requirement is being a current student.

 

AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship

Deadline: September 30, 2017

Amount: $500

 

AfterCollege offers a straightforward $500 scholarship—the main part of their application is a 200-word personal statement (which I’m sure you already have nailed down). Besides that, they specifically mention evaluating applicants “with the eye of a hiring manager.” That means typos and grammatical mistakes are an extra big no-no to win this award.

 

And while this is a scholarship for “business students,” the scholarship provider allows a lot of range for what that means. They specifically mention that eligible majors include: accounting, advertising, business administration, economics, finance, human resources, international relations, management, political science, and public relations. Their list ends with an "etc." as well, so if you think your major applies, go for it!

 

Other eligibility requirements include:

  • Must be currently enrolled and working toward a degree in a field of business.
  • Must have a minimum 3.0 GPA

 

Don't Text and Drive Scholarship

Deadline: September 30, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

September 19 is National No Texting and Driving Day, and a few scholarships show up this month with that theme. That includes this one from DigitalResponsibility.org. To apply, you need to submit a 140-character statement that completes this sentence: “I pledge to not text and drive because...”

 

From all the submissions, the scholarship provider will choose 10 finalists. These finalists will then need to write a 500- to 1,000-word essay about texting while driving. This scholarship is open to all students who are U.S. citizens.

 

Have any questions about these awards? Which will you apply for? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

I’m always thinking about how to save money at college—especially when it comes to living expenses. But next year in school, I’m actually shelling out an extra $1,000 for housing. And I think it’s for a very good reason: I want a single room.

 

I know this is a want, not a need, but after 2 years in school, I’m over having a roommate. Even though my last roommate was great and we are still really good friends, we had a corner room (notorious for being super small at my school), and it made me really miss having my own space.

 

I’m excited to design my room in a way that doesn’t restrict me because I have to think about another person. There’s less stuff to worry about as well, such as someone using my things without asking or paying for damages that I didn’t cause (my school makes both roommates pay for damages, regardless of who did it).

 

I’m less excited about paying more money, but after looking at the numbers, I know I can make it work. At my university, a standard double room (that means you have one roommate ) costs about $3,300. A single room is around $4,300—only $1,000 extra. I say “only” because the bill gets divided into the fall and spring semesters, which means paying an additional $500 per semester.

 

And while I could pay the first $500 upfront, I don’t necessarily have to because my school offers an interest-fee payment plan (though there is a $55 annual enrollment fee). They’ll divide the payments by 9 months, which would be around $100 per month. Shockingly, that's cheaper than my cellphone bill by a few dollars!

 

I still need to prepare for this additional expense. This is where my new savings skills come in handy. Since it’s summer, I have plenty of time to save up. I will make sure that I put aside $100 or so per paycheck. Combine that with my other savings, and I should have over $1,000 by August.

 

Maybe I’d be better off spending that money elsewhere, but personally, I think it’s worth it. I’m taking on a lot of responsibility my junior year, so I definitely need my room to be somewhere I can come in and relax at the end of a long day—without having to bear with a roommate making noise or having friends over.


What does the Salt Community think? Good idea, right? Sign up or log in with your Salt account and let me know below!

Greetings, Salt Community!

 

Applying for scholarships can feel overwhelming. That’s a big reason we’re doing this 2017 scholarship challenge. But we’re not the only ones who want to simplify things for students—scholarship providers do, too!

 

Think about it: They detail their ideal recipient—what type of school that person goes to, their major, their extracurricular activities etc. Still, even if you tick off all the boxes on that eligibility checklist, you may hold off on applying for an award.

 

Why? Well, a common excuse is thinking you don’t have a winning story to tell. Spoiler alert: You absolutely do! But if you’re not sure, many scholarship providers do you an additional solid by posting winning essays from their past applicants.

 

That’s right—you can read exactly what caught the eye of those scholarship judges in the past, and tweak your submission based on it. So, gathering all that delicious input is what we’re going to do for this month’s challenge.

 

giphy.gif

 

To start, go to the list of list of awards you plan to apply for. You can use your original list or the one you worked on last month, depending on which has deadlines that haven’t passed yet. Visit the scholarships’ websites and look for an area marked “past winners” or something similar. Here’s an example from our list of awards with July deadlines.

 

You’ll want to find at least three awards with winning essays. Once you do, read through these submissions. You can learn a ton by doing this, but here are a few areas in which you’re most likely to find inspiration:

 

How They Start

 

A great essay grabs your attention right from the jump. Consider the example linked above. Its first sentence is, “While preparing for a field exercise in the arid deserts of Las Vegas, NV our Second Detachment sergeant received the call that his daughter died.” That’s an intense opener—and definitely one that makes me want to keep reading to learn what happened. Does your essay lead with that kind of punch?

 

What’s Their Style

 

A good opening can hook a reader, but it won’t ensure they stick it out to the end of an essay. That’s where the writer’s voice comes in.

 

In the winning essays you find, pay attention to the writers’ words and structure. Do they use strong verbs (i.e., not "use" )? Punchy sentences? Does the text sound like someone telling a story or someone writing a paper? In short, is the essay interesting to read?

 

Odds are, there won’t be a right or wrong voice for an individual award—but each essay will at least have a tone you can identify. Does yours shine through?

 

How They Answer The Prompt

 

A scholarship essay needs to do many things. It should tell a story, brag about the applicant, and stay on point. A great essay might do the first two; a winning essay will check off all three. In the essays you find, pay attention to how the writers weaved these together to create a cohesive, compelling submission. Do you do as good a job?  

 

What You Think

 

OK, real talk: The essays you find may or may not be great. The example I linked to includes winners from the past 3 years. I love the submissions from 2016 and 2015. The 2014 winner? Eh, it’s OK, I guess. It just feels less personal—and less interesting, as a result—than the others.

 

But, you know what? It still won that student a scholarship, and that’s what matters most. You can tell yourself your essay isn’t “good enough,” but you’ll never know if you don’t submit it.

 

Once you complete your review, tweak your own essay based upon what you found and have a trusted reviewer look at it again. (I’m still happy to help with that!) I’d also LOVE to see some of your essays in the comments, and if you have other questions about scholarships, you can post those there, too! Just sign up or log in with your Salt account.    

Greetings, Salt Community!

 

Where I live, summer has been a bit of a bust so far. Most days, it’s been either too hot or too wet to spend time outside. But at least all those rain clouds offer one silver lining—they represent the perfect weather to win some money! Yup, if you’re stuck inside looking for something to do, why not spend some time applying for scholarships?

 

Here’s a fresh batch with August deadlines to check out. I’ve organized things a bit differently this month, putting the awards into categories. Let me know what you think in the comments! 

 

For: The Environmentally Conscious

 

Crescent Electric College Scholarship Contest

Deadline: August 8, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

If the gloomy weather outside has you thinking about the environment (or, more likely, worried about it), show off what you’re doing to help! Crescent Electric wants to see a photo of how you minimize energy usage. Their favorite will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Check out some examples here (I love the creativity of the “energy jar”).

 

Other eligibility criteria include:

  • Must be a graduating high school senior or college freshman, sophomore, or junior
  • Must be between the ages of 16 and 22

 

FilterBuy.com Scholarship

Deadline: August 15, 2017

Amount: $500

 

FilterBuy.com is rewarding environmentally conscious students as well this month, with a $500 scholarship. To apply, submit a 400- to 600-word essay on “everyday tips that can be implemented to reduce our individual contribution to greenhouse gas emission.”

 

Other eligibility criteria include:

  • Must be currently enrolled at an accredited 2- or 4-year U.S. college
  • Must be a legal resident of the United States or hold a valid student visa

 

For: STEM Majors

 

RevPart 2017 STEM Scholarship

Deadline: August 1

Amount: $1,000

 

This award comes with a simple prompt for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students: “tell us about yourself.” That’s it!

 

This is a great opportunity for a personal statement essay—especially if it’s already STEM focused. If you have to tweak your existing essay to do this, now is the perfect time to. That’s because you can reuse it for the next award, too.

 

Masergy STEM Scholarship Program

Deadline: August 15, 2017

Amount: $5,000

 

Masergy provides a $5,000 scholarship to a student majoring in a STEM field. To apply, submit a 500-word essay on how you plan to evolve the STEM fields once you graduate. Again, your career goals likely pop up in your personal statement essay, so this is just a different variation of “tell us about yourself.”

 

Other eligibility criteria include:

  • Must be attending an accredited college or university in the United States
  • Must have a declared STEM major

 

For: Mothers

 

Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Support Awards

Deadline: August 1, 2017

Amount: $5,000

 

Mother’s Day may be in the rearview mirror, but the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation still has a great gift for all the moms out there: five scholarships worth up to $5,000 each. Mink was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and this foundation continues her commitment to educational access—especially for women.

 

The application includes five short-answer questions, as well as a 500-word essay (“tell us what you would like us to know about your personal and educational history”). Additional eligibility requirements include:

 

  • Must be a woman
  • Must be at least 17 years old
  • Must be a mother with minor children
  • Must be enrolled in a nonprofit, accredited institution or program
  • Must have an annual family income less than $20,000 for a family of 2; less than $24,000 for a family of 3; or less than $28,000 for a family of 4

               

For: Everyone Else!

 

These awards offer great opportunities to repurpose an existing scholarship essay. 

 

Spirit Button Academic Scholarship

Deadline: August 1, 2017

Amount: $2,000

 

Spirit Button inspires people to bring “greater presentness and peace to your life.” Well, scholarship money definitely brings peace to a lot of students worried about the cost of school! To apply for this award, submit a 700- to 1,000-word essay on what inspires you the most in life and why.

 

Other eligibility criteria include:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be currently or about to be enrolled in an accredited 2- or 4-year school in the United States

 

Achieve Today Scholarship

Deadline: August 31

Amount: $1,000

 

Achieve Today helps individuals “awaken their greatness through personal coaching and education.” To apply for their scholarship, students should submit a 3- to 5-minute video or audio clip OR an 800-word essay on how they use one of the following in their lives:

 

  • The law of attraction
  • Having an attitude of gratitude
  • The power of positive thinking
  • Focusing on things you can control

 

I know what you’re thinking: I don’t practice any of these things. Are you sure? Dig into the scholarship info, and the provider talks about applicants sharing “inspirational/motivational stories or experiences overcoming life's challenges.” Bingo! There’s our standard scholarship prompt.

 

RentHop Apartment Scholarship

Deadline: August 31, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

RentHop offers a $1,000 award to undergraduate students. Applicants must submit a 500-word essay on the following:

 

“Technology is changing every aspect of our daily lives, from searching for real estate to phones in our pocket that are more powerful than anyone would have imagined a generation prior. In the next 5 years, what do you feel will be the most profound changes that impact college graduates, their careers, and their personal lives? To what extent are those cultural and societal shifts aligned with your personal ambitions, your school degree program, and the RentHop values?”

 

Besides the money, this award also comes with an optional internship with RentHop. A cash prize and job experience? That’s a win-win! 

 

Which of these do you plan to apply for? Looking for a different type of award? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

Have you ever worked really hard for something, been really proud of yourself, and had it taken away from you? This is, unfortunately, a not-so-uncommon occurrence for private scholarship winners if their schools use what’s known as “scholarship displacement.”

 

What Is Scholarship Displacement?

 

Scholarship displacement is a practice that many colleges and universities use to replace institutional grant money with private scholarship awards. Here’s how it works:

 

In most cases, you will receive confirmation of private scholarship awards after you have already received the financial aid packages from your college. When your school receives those scholarship funds (or the notification of them), they reduce your institutional grant money by the private scholarship amount.

 

So, if you won a $5,000 scholarship, you’d expect to pay $5,000 less for that year. However, if your college practices scholarship displacement, you wouldn’t see a net gain at all. Your balance wouldn’t change.

 

Frustrating, right? You worked hard for that money, and it ends up not changing your overall outcome.

 

Why Schools Defend Scholarship Displacement

 

Schools typically point out that institutional, need-based grant money is earmarked for the neediest students. If you receive a private scholarship, you are better off financially than a student with similar need who didn’t receive a scholarship. Thus, your institutional grant is reduced to go toward someone else.

 

I know, it doesn’t make it feel much better when you worked hard for that money. Scholarship organizations don’t like the practice either.

 

They intend the money to lessen what you would need to pay for college. Scholarship displacement lessens the impact of the award—essentially, the scholarship organization funds the college, not the student. Many see this as a discouragement of giving scholarships and for students to work hard for them.

 

Maryland Passes Gamechanging Legislation

 

Scholarship displacement is pretty common at colleges, but no state has ever addressed the practice through legislation—until now.

 

Maryland passed the first ever bills restricting scholarship displacement at public institutions except in specific circumstances:

 

  • When a student’s need has been fully met by grant aid,
  • If the scholarship provider approves the decrease,
  • When aid must be reduced due to NCAA rules, or
  • If the scholarship is affiliated with the school, and the school assists with selecting recipients.

 

This new rule goes into effect on July 1, and it’s a real win for students attending public colleges and universities in Maryland to allow them to see the full benefit of their scholarships. It also sets a precedent for similar action to be taken in other states, and hopefully, private institutions would begin to follow suit as well.

 

What questions do you have about scholarship displacement? Do you have any personal experiences with scholarship displacement you’re willing to share? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to do so!

Greetings, Salt Community!

 

We’re officially halfway through our 2017 scholarship challenge, and I’m sensing ... frustration.

 

You don’t want to win scholarships 6 months from now. You want them right now. To do this, many of you have turned to no-essay, “easy” scholarships—with little to show for your efforts besides carpel tunnel from a ton of online surveys.

 

I totally get it.

 

Training is hard, but necessary. You can’t just go outside and complete a marathon without any practice (at least, not without some rough consequences). But we’ve finally reached the part of your training montage where things start making sense. Where you’ll see what it really means to “wax on, wax off.”

 

Wax-On-Wax-Off-snoopy_sophie-32378028-500-275.gif

 

It’s time to start applying for scholarships. 

 

You’re Ready

 

At this point, you’ve started a lot of the dirty work that will make you an excellent scholarship applicant. As you begin your applications, you’ll see how these steps will help you:

 

 

If you haven’t already completed these challenges, I strongly recommend going back to do so. Training takes time. But working your way through the process will pay off—in this case, literally with scholarship funds.

 

If you feel good about where you are, go back to challenge #1 and look at the 10 scholarships you found then. Starting with the scholarship with the closest deadline, begin working your way through each application. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

 

Organize the awards by deadline. This will tell you which to complete first. If some of the deadlines have passed, that’s OK. There are plenty more awards where those came from, and those expired ones will probably be back next year. Put a pin in them until then. You'll be a scholarship star by that point!

 

Complete one at a time. With 10 scholarships staring you in the face, you may be tempted to jump to a different award when you hit a snag with one. But that’s an easy way to complete zero applications—and win zero dollars, as a result. Instead, finish each application before moving onto the next one.

 

Take your time. Set aside some time each day to work on your scholarship applications, even if it’s as little as a half-hour. Dedicating time on your schedule to scholarships can help ensure you complete (and review!) everything you need to without feeling rushed.

 

Reward yourself. Scholarship applications can be hard work, so treat yourself when you complete one. Post your accomplishment on social media, or add an extra show to your nightly Netflix binge—whatever motivates you. Just be careful about buying things as a reward. The point is to win money, not spend it.

 

Ask for help. You don’t have to go at this alone. Have someone you trust read your essay. Make a pact with your friends to complete your applications—and keep each other on track. When you run into questions about an award, post them below. Trust me: Everyone will be happy to help you!

 

Unless you earn a 4-year full ride, you’ll need to keep applying semester after semester. So, once you’ve exhausted your list of scholarships, find 10 more awards using the methods we detailed before. And remember, practice makes perfect!

 

How are you doing with your challenge? Have you run into any questions with a scholarship application? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to keep us posted in the comments!

Looking to add some fireworks to your financial aid this July? Salt® is happy to light the match!

 

This month, we’ve rounded up scholarships for students interested in the law, STEM fields, and ... the Spanish Civil War? OK, I get it if you’re not a Spanish Civil War buff. But if that and these other awards don’t apply to you, remember this is just a sampling of what’s out there right now.

 

Check out our scholarship search engine or leave me a comment below to find something that might work for you. 

 

George Watt Prize, 2017

Deadline: July 1, 2017

Amount: $250 (three awards)

 

The George Watt Prize awards $250 to high school students, undergraduates, and grad students (one award for each group) for submitting an essay/thesis chapter on the following:

 

“Any aspect of the Spanish Civil War, the global political or cultural struggles against fascism in 1920s and 1930s, or the lifetime histories and contributions of the international volunteers who fought in support of the Spanish Republic from 1936 to 1938.”

 

They specify that any work produced since August 1, 2016, is eligible. So, if you’ve written about this topic for school, submit away! If you haven’t, think of it this way: Would you write a research paper on the Spanish Civil War for $250? Not many people may answer “yes.” (The classic “nope” scholarship!) If you would, it could be worth your time.

 

LivSecure Scholarship

Deadline: July 1, 2017

Amount: $1,000 (first place), $500 (second and third place)

 

LivSecure offers three scholarships to students who are studying law enforcement, law, criminal justice, or a related field. Students can apply by submitting a 500- to 1,000-word essay on one of the following prompts:

 

  • “How do you view the current relationship between law enforcement professionals and civilians and how do you envision impacting that relationship in your career in law enforcement?”
  • “What personal experiences or interactions initially attracted you to a law enforcement related career, and what do you hope to achieve from this career?”

 

Other eligibility criteria include being a graduating high school senior or a freshman/sophomore in college.

 

Annual Financial Empowerment Scholarship

Deadline: July 19, 2017

Amount: $1,500

 

BankMobile offers this award to students who “understand the important role that financial empowerment plays in life.” Since you’re here in the Salt Community, I’m going to assume that describes you!

 

To apply, students need to submit a 650-word essay on the “importance of financial empowerment in your life and career.” This award is available to undergrad and grad students who are U.S. citizens and attending an accredited institution.

 

d’Oliveira & Associates College Scholarship

Deadline: July 28, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

Another one for students pursuing a career in a law-related field. This one is just for U.S. citizens and requires a 500-word essay on the dangers of distracted driving. Even if this scholarship doesn’t make sense for you, take a few minutes to read the sample winners from their site. They’ll really make you think—about effective writing and more.

 

Atlanta Dental Spa Scholarship

Deadline: July 31, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

To apply for the Atlanta Dental Spa Scholarship, all students have to do is submit a 60-second video that answers the question, “What will you do in life to make people smile?” Creativity counts for this one.

 

And while a dentist offers this scholarship, it is not limited to just dental or medical students. The only eligibility criteria listed on the website is that you must be attending college in the fall or winter of 2017. If that’s you, and you love to make people smile, apply away!

 

Liberty Power Bright Horizons Scholarship

Deadline: July 30, 2017

Amount: $10,000, $6,000, and $4,000

 

Liberty Power will award three scholarships to college students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. They’re particularly looking for students with an interest in the energy or environmental field.

 

And while Liberty Power is the leading Hispanic-owned energy provider in the United States (and they’ve partnered with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation to present this award), these awards are available to ANY student—no matter their ethnicity.

 

Eligibility requirements do include:

 

  • Being currently enrolled in an accredited 2- or 4-year university.
  • Pursuing a degree related to science, technology, mathematics, or engineering.
  • Being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

 

The Gen And Kelly Tanabe Scholarship

Deadline: July 31, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

The Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship is a perfect award to break out that winning scholarship essay you’ve been working on. To apply, you just need to submit a 250-word essay on one of the following prompts:

 

  • Why do you deserve to win this scholarship?
  • Describe your academic or career goals.
  • Any topic of your choice.

 

Did you catch that last one? Surely, you have an essay on ANY TOPIC you can use! Other eligibility criteria include being a U.S. resident and currently attending school or planning to start school within the next 12 months.

 

Which of these do you plan to apply for? Looking for a different type of award? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

There are always a million excuses not to do something. Getting scholarships is no different. One of the most common reasons people give for not applying is, “I can’t win because I’m not a star student.”

 

Does that sound like you? Well, let’s do something about it this month.

 

For May, your scholarship challenge (should you choose to accept it) is to improve your GPA. To have the best chance at winning scholarships, you’ll want at least a 3.5 GPA. You don’t have to get there all at once, but now, between semesters, is the perfect time to assess where you are—and make some changes, if needed.

 

Most people can’t suddenly become 3.5+ GPA students. (Kudos to you if you’re already there!) But by improving your GPA incrementally—by 0.2 or 0.3 each semester—you’ll reach that goal eventually while showing scholarship providers your growth as a student.

 

So, now that finals are likely over, take a step back and identify three things you can do to improve your GPA. Here are some ideas:

 

Create A Plan

 

If you were driving from point A to point B, you’d have a plan to get there, right? Well, driving to point GPA (driving up your GPA’s point?) should be no different.

 

There are tons of GPA calculators out there. This one offers an easy way to evaluate what grades in what courses could affect your number. Look at your classes for next semester and determine what grade you need in each to increase your GPA (aim higher for those in your major, of course).

 

You may want to get an “A” in all of them. That’s certainly an admirable goal! But make sure that's realistic for you. Goals that aren't can derail and demotivate you quickly.      

 

Be Honest With Yourself

 

Sometimes, the answers stare us right in the face. When it comes to grades, that means taking an honest look at your habits to see if something needs to change.

 

Did you attend class regularly? Were you engaged while there, i.e., did you participate and take notes? What about homework—did you turn it all in? You may have a perfectly valid reason for answering “no” to these. Work, life, and more can get in the way of school.

 

Unfortunately, your GPA won’t take any of those into account. It’s a bottom line number, and you have to treat it as such. That means finding ways to change potentially negative behavior like that next semester.

 

Ask For Help

 

If you answered “yes” to the questions above but still struggled with your work, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Colleges offer many existing avenues for this—and you can always make your own as well.

 

Visit your professors or TAs during office hours to gain a stronger understanding of the course material, as well as what you can do differently to help your grades. Organize a weekly study group with individuals in your classes so you can help one another.

 

The key is to take action. Otherwise, you can’t expect things to change.  

 

Keep Hope!

 

Having a good GPA matters for scholarships, but it’s not the be all end all. You can still win awards if your GPA isn’t the best, so don’t ignore scholarships as a funding option altogether. Keep working toward improving your number, and keep applying in the meantime. 

 

These are just a few options. Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post your own ideas in the comments below—and share what steps you plan to take to improve your GPA. We’ll do our best to help you along the way!

Greetings, Salt Community!

 

It’s hard to believe it, but summer is right around the corner. We’re entering the time of year known for sandcastles, s’mores, and ... scholarships? Yup, while June is a great month to hit the beach or a BBQ, it’s also the perfect time to bank some free money for the upcoming school year.

 

So, before the weather gets too nice to stay inside, spend some time applying for scholarships. To help you out, here are some awards that have deadlines in June 2017. Remember, these are just a few available options. If you don’t see something that works for you, be sure to check out our scholarship search engine to find an award that does. 

 

The Ankin Law Office College Scholarship

Award Amount: $5,000

Due Date: June 1, 2017

 

Law offices often offer scholarship opportunities—but not just for law students.

 

The Ankin Law Office College Scholarship is open to any full-time student enrolled at an accredited community college, college or university, or an accredited law school starting in the fall of 2017. To apply, submit an original 400-word essay on the following prompt: “What effect will driverless-car technology have on personal injury automobile cases?” If you have an opinion on the topic (looking at you, Jared), apply!

 

Mark A. Forester Scholarship

Award Amount: $1,000

Due Date: June 1, 2017

 

May is National Military Appreciation Month, so now would be an appropriate time to apply for a scholarship honoring a servicemember. Mark A. Forester was a senior airman who died September 29, 2010, in Afghanistan while risking his life to save a fallen comrade. This scholarship was founded in his memory.

 

To apply, you must meet the following criteria:

 

  • Must be currently enrolled in an accredited American university or college (or will be enrolled for the fall/summer semester of 2017).
  • Must be current military or veteran, or child of military/veteran.

 

Eligible applicants will need to submit a 300- to 500-word essay explaining how they honor America's military heroes.

 

The FormSwift Scholarship Program

Award Amount: $1,000

Due Date: June 15, 2017

 

Our dedicated Salt Community members know our team loves a good infographic—especially in a contest setting. Well, apparently, FormSwift feels the same way. Their scholarship program asks applicants to make an infographic that illustrates a business plan for a start-up, restaurant, nonprofit, transportation, or clothing company.

 

This award is available to pretty much everyone; graduating high school seniors, college undergrads, and community college, professional college, and graduate students are all eligible. The program’s website also explicitly states that international students (including those from a college or high school outside the United States) can apply.

 

Express Medical Supply $500 Scholarship Award

Award Amount: $500

Due Date: June 30, 2017

 

Helping others is a great way to win scholarships. That’s why earning 100 hours of community service was last month’s scholarship challenge. Here’s a great opportunity to put any service you’ve already done into action, with Express Medical Supply’s “Kindness in Action” award.

 

To apply, share a picture of something kind you’ve done for a friend, stranger, or yourself via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Be sure to include a 108-word-or-less caption, as well as the tag #ExmedScholarship in your submission. Other eligibility criteria include:

 

  • Must be enrolled at an accredited 2- or 4-year college within the United States.
  • Must be a legal resident of the United States or hold a valid student visa.

 

MyBioSource Scholarship 2017

Award Amount: $1,000

Due Date: June 30, 2017

 

MyBioSource offers 10 scholarships worth $1,000: five for STEM majors, and five for all other college majors. These scholarships feature a classic essay prompt: write 250 words on why you have chosen your major and why you should receive the scholarship. So, if you have an existing personal statement essay (and you should!), you should be able to easily reuse it for this application.

 

This site also specifically states that high school seniors, undergraduates, graduates, and international students can apply. You just need to be enrolled at an accredited college or university for the 2017 fall semester.

 

Finally, a couple other awards to consider for June:

 

Actuary Of Tomorrow – Stuart A. Robertson Memorial Scholarship

Award Amount: $9,000

Due Date: June 1, 2017

 

2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award Nomination

Award Amount: $1,000

Due Date: June 1, 2017

 

Delete Cyberbullying Scholarship Award

Award Amount: $1,000

Due Date: June 30, 2017

 

What do you think about these scholarships? Is there anything I can do to help you out more in the future? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

Greetings, Salt Community!

 

I’m here to fill in for dianemelville with the latest scholarship challenge—and it’s an important one. This month, we’ll work to improve your profile as a scholarship applicant. Meaning, we want to make you as appealing to scholarship judges as possible. And one of the best ways to do that is community service.

 

Scholarship providers love applicants who help others. After all, it’s kind of what they do, too! Now, no “magic” number of community service hours will grant you access to hidden vaults of money. But 100 hours is a truly impressive (and accomplishable!) number—so let’s make that your target for 2017.

 

Don’t overlook this challenge! In addition to helping you win scholarships, community service can improve college applications and professional résumés. It also feels great to make a difference, of course. So, how can you easily reach 100 hours? Here are a few tips.

 

Keep It Manageable

 

Your goal is to earn 100 hours this year—not this month (though kudos to you if you make that happen!). If you start your service in April, that means you need to perform only 11 hours each month to reach that goal. That’s like 3 hours a week—not even half a day! You can give up a measly 3 hours a week to help people in need, right? I thought so!

 

Pick Something You Love

 

Community service is a great thing—not a punishment. I’m not a judge sentencing you to 100 hours of it! Make sure it doesn’t feel that way by volunteering somewhere that interests you. That way, you’re more likely to enjoy your time and keep returning to complete your 100 hours.

 

So, what activities interest you? Mentoring, tutoring, community clean up, church activities, etc.? Or is there a specific population you’d like to help? Senior citizens, the homeless, animals, veterans, etc.? Odds are, you can find an organization with the same goal simply using Google. And if not, make your own community service project!

 

Ultimately, you want to perform as much of your community service toward a single goal as possible, i.e., don’t spend 2 hours with 50 different charities. While that’s honorable, too, it doesn’t show the commitment and long-term impact that impress scholarship judges.

 

Go As A Group

 

I’m here to help keep you accountable. But I can’t actually make you go to your community service each month. Your friends can, though.

 

Pull together a group of your friends, and agree on a place/cause where you’d all like to volunteer together. You can help each other keep your commitment, and you’ll likely have even more fun by spending the time with your friends. Just remember you’re there to help—not to goof off.

 

So, there you have it, scholarship challengers! Start your 100 hours this month, and sign up or log in using your Salt account to post where you’ll spend your time. I’d love to see pictures of the impact your making as well! Here's a little motivational one from me to get you started.

 

giphy.gif

Greetings, Salt® Community!

 

If you missed dianemelville’s last scholarship challenge (and really, you should be all over those if you’re interested in winning scholarships), you missed the news that I’m taking over for her. I’m excited to jump in and find some free money for all of you! But I’m also excited to hear from you. Let me know what you like about these posts or if you'd like to see anything different. These posts are for you, so help me ensure they benefit you as much as possible!

 

It’s almost May, so depending on your situation, you’re likely focused on prom or finals or grad school. The furthest thing on your mind might be scholarships—but scholarship providers don’t think that way. Tons of great awards have deadlines this month. Get a head start on next year’s funding with these awards. "Next Semester You" will be so thankful.

 

Balestreri/Cutino Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: May 1, 2017

 

Calling all aspiring top chefs and bakers! This sweet (or savory, if that's your thing!) award is available for culinary students who meet the following requirements:

 

  • Must be a current college student who has completed at least one grading or marking period.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Must major in culinary arts and have a career goal of becoming, or already be, a chef or pastry chef.
  • Must be attending an accredited, postsecondary school of culinary arts, or other postsecondary culinary training program acceptable to the AAC.

 

Applicants are evaluated on a 100-point scale that includes GPA, culinary activities, letters of reference, and an essay. Check out the application linked above for details.

 

Want second helpings of food scholarships? Check out this renewable $2,500 scholarship for students who plan to attend the Culinary Institute of America in the fall. It’s also due May 1.

 

American Floral Endowment

Amount: Varies

Deadline: May 1, 2017

 

The American Floral Endowment awards 20 scholarships annually for undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in floral crops or other areas of horticulture. Qualifications vary by scholarships.

 

However, one worth mentioning specifically: the Carlson-Johnson Scholarship for Nontraditional Students. As you might expect from the name, that award is intended for students re-entering school after a minimum 5-year absence. If that's you, take a look at the requirements.

 

"Search to Learn" Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: May 14, 2017

 

Flex your creative muscles with this scholarship. It asks applicants to create a video that talks about digital marketing’s impact on society, a random/interesting fact about themselves, and their dream joball in 60 seconds or less. Additional requirements include:

 

  • Must be a high school senior or current college student.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Must be planning to enroll or be enrolled as a full-time student.
  • Must major in marketing, mass communication, public relations, business, advertising, or a related field.

 

Creativity and originality make up 90% of the scoring, so don’t be afraid to go big on this one. (Costumes and video effects are welcome!)

 

Brett Anderson Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: May 31, 2017

 

Founded in the memory of Brett Anderson—“a young man whose true passions in life were his love of musical and comedic performance,” according to the scholarship's website—this scholarship annually provides five incoming college freshman with awards worth up to $5,000.

 

As you might expect from that description of Brett, this is another award for anyone creative. Applicants must:

 

  • Answer some general information questions.
  • Supply a letter of recommendation from an influential mentor.
  • Submit a performance video showcasing their musical or comedic talents.

 

Based on the eligibility documentation and application on its website, this award appears to be open to everyone. So, if you have a passion for performance, check it out!

 

Blue Kangaroo Community Activist Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: May 31, 2017

 

Community service is one of the best ways to boost your chances to win scholarships (that’s a hint for an upcoming scholarship challenge). For instance, consider this Blue Kangaroo Community Activist Scholarship. This scholarship is available to students who take action, inspire others, and impact their community. Eligibility requirements include:

 

  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Must be enrolled in a fall 2017 undergraduate program at an accredited university
  • Must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher at your current school

 

To apply, you must write a 500-word essay on how you used activism to help your community and submit a photo or video of your initiative. A letter of recommendation from a professor or community activist board member is also required.

 

What do you think about these scholarships? Will you apply for any of them? Is there anything I can do to help you out more in the future? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

Welcome back to the scholarship challenge! (Per the usual, check out this blog post if you have no idea what I’m talking about.)

 

This challenge will be a bit different, as it will be my last post for the Salt® Community. I’ve had a blast working with you all over the years (5 years to be exact!), and I genuinely hope that I was able to help some of your achieve your scholarship goals.

 

From here on out, ryanhlane will step into my shoes (don’t worry, I’ve trained him well) to continue the scholarship challenges and monthly scholarship deadlines.

 

OK, enough chit-chat. Let’s win some scholarships.

 

Challenge #3: Create A Scholarship Essay Template

 

It’s time for the rubber to meet the road! For the next 30 days, my challenge to you is to craft an amazing scholarship essay that you will use to apply for many of the 10 scholarships you previously identified.

 

One of the great things about scholarship applications is that they all tend to ask the same questions. Have you ever noticed how many scholarships all ask for a basic “personal statement” or “career goals” essay? You can use this overlap to your advantage by writing a “template” scholarship essay.

 

Here is your challenge this month:

 

Review the 10 scholarships you collected from Challenge #1, and identify the most common essay prompt. Then, write an outline for a four-paragraph scholarship essay and complete the first draft.

 

Now, I can’t actually teach you how to become a better writer with one simple challenge. Instead, the goal of this challenge is to get you doing the activities that will naturally improve your writing and gradually improve your scholarship essay. 

 

Tips:

1. Don’t Stress

I may go on and on about a “winning” scholarship essay, but the truth is that there is no secret formula. There is no one right way to write a scholarship essay. Scholarship judges are real people, so write your essay as if you were talking to a group of nice people who might write you a check if you convince them that you deserve it.

For this challenge, your job is to focus on the substance of your essay (what story are you trying to tell). Let a professor help you with the technical (grammar, flow, sentence structure, etc.).

 

2. Have A Professor Read Your Essay

In my whole career, I’ve only met one student who actually thought that they were a good writer (and she turned out to be an amazing poet!). Meaning, most students don’t think that they are very good writers—which means most students probably aren’t very good writers.

 

If you want the most honest and productive feedback on your scholarship essay, then you need to have your essay reviewed by a professor, academic counselor, or anyone with professional writing skills. Do not skip this step!

 

Ask them to give you full, complete, and honest feedback on your essay. Then, write another draft based on their feedback and have that person review that new draft. Rinse and repeat until you’re satisfied with the progress.

 

3. Essay Outline Advice

For me personally, the best method I’ve found to help me write a scholarship essay outline is this:

  • Create a four-paragraph outline (opening, paragraph 2, paragraph 3, conclusion).
  • Write down the main topic of each paragraph.
  • Focusing on one paragraph at a time, and free write some ideas and stories you have about each topic.
  • Write a rough draft using your free writing as notes.
  • See Tip 2 above.

 

Having trouble? Ping me or Ryan in the comments below (dianemelville, ryanhlane with your questions, and we’ll do my best to help!

 

Ready to get started? Log in or sign up with your Salt account to join the challenge!

Author: Betsy Mayotte (betsym)

 

A few weeks ago, the IRS quietly removed access to its IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) that students and student loan borrowers use to apply for federal aid and lower payment options. The DRT is used by millions of students each year to make filling out the FAFSA easier and less error prone by allowing them to automatically import their tax information into the application. Federal student loan borrowers use it to apply for or renew their income driven repayment plans in much the same way.

 

Here are some FAQ’s to help you understand how to manage these tasks while the DRT remains unavailable.

 

Why was the DRT shut off? How long will it be unavailable?

According to the IRS and the Department of Education (ED), the DRT was shut down as “a precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.”  There is no word when the tool will again be available or what exactly prompted this action. The tool is expected to be down for at least several weeks.

 

Should I worry about ID theft if I’ve used this tool in the past?

The IRS statement claims that the issue is fairly isolated and that most people using the tool were not at risk.  If you want to be sure, request a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus to check for unusual activity.  You can also put a credit freeze in place to ensure that no new credit instruments can be opened without your express permission.

 

What are the implications of the DRT being unavailable to students filing their FAFSA?

Students filing their FAFSA without the use of the DRT will be forced to supply their tax information on their own.  While you can still file your FAFSA online, it’s recommended actually, you’ll have to enter your tax information by hand on the online form.  Further details are posted here.  If you don’t have a copy of your tax return handy, you can request one from the IRS at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript.  Note you will need a mobile phone to verify your identity to use this option.

 

Should I just wait until the DRT is back up?

Probably not. Many financial deadlines, especially state aid deadlines, are fast approaching.  As we have no estimate as to the return of the DRT, and considering that the process students must use can take a little longer, it’s best to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible.

 

How do I submit my income driven repayment plan application or renewal application without the DRT?

You can still apply online through your loan servicer and upload a copy of your tax return or alternative income documentation.  If you don’t have a copy of your tax return, you can obtain one by clicking here.

 

I have other questions!

If you have any additional questions about filing these applications without the DRT, log in and ask here in the comments.