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Since taking over this site’s scholarship duties earlier this year, I’ve read a lot of scholarship applications. Like, A LOT a lot. And yet, I’ve probably skipped twice as many as I’ve read—sometimes based just upon the award’s name.

 

I know: You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, nor should you dismiss a scholarship based on its name. Those can mislead you. One of my predecessor’s favorite examples of this was the 100 Black Men of America scholarship, which had no racial eligibility requirements.

 

However, many students avoid certain scholarships not because they have misleading names, but because they have names like “Poetry for Life Scholarship” or “Young Scholars Prize in Romani Studies.” If you find poetry or Romani Studies borng, you’ll probably say “nope” to these scholarships without giving them a second look.

 

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But here’s the thing: You won’t be the only student who does this. In fact, most students probably pass on awards like this—making the competition much less fierce for these dollars. And honestly, sometimes with scholarships it’s not about doing the best job, but simply about showing up.

 

So, this month’s challenge is to get out of your comfort zone and apply for one scholarship you typically wouldn’t touch with a 20-foot pole. Consider these types of competitions:

 

Video Competitions

 

Video submissions can seem like a hassle because we worry they need to be super creative to win. However, most scholarship providers care more about you than your production skills.

 

So, find a video competition with a broad prompt, like this one, and craft your submission to leverage your personal statement essay. Your passion and emotion will definitely come through in your story—and that’s what will really impress those scholarship judges. 

 

Historical Essays

 

OK, so you’re not an expert on things like Romani studies or the Spanish Civil War off the top of your head—but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about them. If you like a good research project, try out an historical essay scholarship if it doesn’t require you to be in a specific major.

 

Treat your submission as an independent class project. Except, with your scholarship, you’ll learn something and get the chance to earn some money—instead of a letter grade. That’s a pretty good trade-off!

 

Creative Writing Scholarships

 

Don’t feel like digging into history books? Go the non-non-fiction route and make something up instead! Tons of creative writing scholarships are available, and they cover not only different types of writing (poetry, plays, short stories) but also genres—from mysteries to science fiction.

 

All of these types of scholarship competitions are great for students who feel like they “don’t have a personal story” worth telling (though I bet you do!). Expand your opportunities by expanding what you believe is or isn’t possible. Try applying for one of these types of awards this month.

 

Have a question about this challenge? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post it in the comments.

The free community college movement is starting to gain momentum—and results. Over the past few months, Chicago and Tennessee have both released encouraging data about their respective free tuition programs.

 

And why wouldn’t these initiatives succeed? After all, free community college programs can be an enormous financial help. Get a 2-year degree for little to no expense to you? It’s a deal!

 

However, these programs’ success doesn’t necessarily ensure student success. In fact, you may not benefit from a free community college program at all—unless you do some forward planning.

 

Free Community College Background

 

In addition to Tennessee, states including Rhode Island, New York, Oregon, Arkansas, Minnesota, South Dakota, Connecticut, Delaware, and Louisiana offer programs to let some (or all) in-state community college students earn an associate’s degree for free. There are even cities and counties doing the same, like Chicago, San Francisco, and Ontario County in Florida.

 

Some of these programs are for all interested students. Others have strict guidelines, such as academic, age, or community service requirements. Each program is rather unique, but all have the same goal in mind: provide greater access to college by making it less expensive.

 

The average student takes 6 years to complete a 4-year degree. This can be due to academic issues, life getting in the way, or because the cost is too great. With these new free college programs, the amount of time in school should start to decrease as well as the amount students borrow, right? Not necessarily.

 

Not All Credits Are Created Equally

 

Many students fresh out of high school enter college without having an ultimate goal after graduation or an academic plan. They’re 18 to 20 years old. There’s plenty of time to decide what they want to do with their lives—and change their minds. Unfortunately, this can place them in a precarious position.

 

Utilizing a free community college program sounds great, but you need to know in advance if your credits will transfer to your new 4-year school. In most places, colleges  are not required to accept credits from any other institution. If yours doesn’t, you could find yourself retaking classes—and paying a higher cost to do so.

 

Make A Plan!

 

Before you attend community college, you must (not should) make a plan. What program will you study? What schools are you considering for your bachelor’s degree? What career path are you thinking about? You need solid answers to these questions.

 

Once you have your answers, you can figure out how best to approach college in an inexpensive manner. Go to a community college that has a relationship with the school you want to end up at, or at least check with that school’s registrar’s office or an academic adviser to find out what credits they would accept.

 

The more transferrable credits you have, the fewer classes you’ll need to take at the more expensive 4-year school. Hopefully, that lets you borrow less in student loans as well.

 

What question do you have about free community college and credit transfers? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post them in the comments.

Everyone knows about November’s two big holidays: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. But not everyone knows about some of the month’s lesser celebrations—like Saxophone Day (November 6), Homemade Bread Day (November 17), and of course, National Pie in the Face Day (November 28, and good for all those Thanksgiving leftovers, I suppose).

 

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And yet, the observance I’m most excited about is National Scholarship Month (even if the GIFs for it aren't as good).

 

Since 1998, the National Scholarships Providers Association has highlighted November as a great time to “celebrate the power of scholarships.” So, join their party and apply for an award or two this month. (I mean, the proper thing to do when someone throws a party is to at least make an appearance, right?)

 

We’ve found some great opportunities with November deadlines below. But as always, these are just a side dish to the feast of scholarships available. Use the Salt scholarship search engine to browse more than 3.6 million awards and find the best ones for you.   

 

Fall 2017 National Scholarship for College Students with Disabilities

Deadline: November 12, 2017

Amount: $2,000

 

disABLEDperson, Inc offers a $2,000 scholarship to a disabled student per the ADA's definition: “A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such an individual. A record of such an impairment or being regarded as having such an impairment. Applicants must also meet the following criteria:

 

  • Must be enrolled in a 2- or 4-year accredited college or university in the United States
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be attending school full time, though part-time students are eligible if that attendance is due to disability

 

Applicants must submit a fewer than 1,000-word essay that covers, “If you can go back in time to the beginning of your senior year of high school or 17 years old what advice would you give yourself?”

 

ACES Education Fund Scholarships

Deadline: November 15, 2017

Amount: Varies

 

ACES (The Society for Editing) offers six scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $3,500 for students interested in careers editing written material. Awards are available to all U.S. citizens and international students, regardless of major, who are enrolled as juniors, seniors, or graduate students during the current term.

 

Depending on the award you apply for, you may need to submit an essay and/or edit copy for clarity and write story headlines based on provided blurbs. It probably goes without saying, but typos are likely a giant no-no for this selection committee.

 

To celebrate National Scholarship Month, I may just complete their editing challenges for fun ... (Now who deserves a pie in the face??)

 

Scholarship for Outdoor Lovers

Deadline: November 24, 2017

Amount: $2,000

 

Do you love hiking, swimming, or another outdoor activity? Nature Immerse wants to hear all about your best outdoor recreation memory, in the form of a 500- to 1,000-word essay. (You don’t have to tell them that you find out about the award while sitting inside and killing time on your phone; that’s our little secret.)

 

Your essay should cover:

  • Where you spent your time?
  • Whom you went with?
  • Why the experience was special to you?

 

Undergraduate and postgraduate students at universities and colleges are eligible to apply, as are high school students or others who are about to enter colleges.

 

Griswold Home Care Bi-Annual Scholarship

Deadline: November 30, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

For many people, helping take care of a loved one is a common occurrence at home —whether it’s a grandparent, parent, sibling, or someone else. If you’ve experienced this, the Griswold Home Care Bi-Annual Scholarship may be a good fit for you.

 

This award is open to students pursuing bachelors, associates, graduate, or professional degrees at accredited colleges or universities. As part of the submission, you’ll need to provide short answers (one to five sentences) on the following topics:

 

  • What you believe are the greatest rewards of providing care and/ or support for someone.
  • What you believe are the greatest challenges of providing care and/or support for someone.
  • What advice you have for someone who will be taking care of a loved one?

 

Small Business Scholarship

Deadline: November 30, 2017

Amount: $2,500

 

Insureon offers a $2,500 scholarship for the best small business story. To apply, students should submit a 500- to 750-word essay that details their favorite small business and why it is important to them.

 

To be eligible, students must also meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident
  • Be a current undergraduate student
  • Be enrolled full time in a 2- or 4-year college or university

 

If your family owns a small business, you worked for one, or you have some other connection, consider applying.

 

Have any questions about these awards, or looking for something else? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post in the comments!

 

It’s college application season for high school seniors—time to determine what you’ll do and where you’ll go in this new chapter of your life. You may base your decision on a school’s reputation, location, size, facilities, and more, but don’t forget to factor in how you’ll pay for this experience.

 

With the average student loan debt north of $30,000, affordability has to be part of the decision process before you fall in love and choose a school. More and more families realize this, but they focus on the wrong things. If you want to know how much you’ll actually pay, you need to ignore a school’s sticker price—and look at the following instead.

 

Understand Net Price

 

Many students and parents see the overall tuition and room and board costs for 4-year private schools and get a case of sticker shock. Whereas they may see the full price of an in-state university more appealing.

 

And while many private colleges are more expensive than in-state schools, they typically have larger endowments to utilize for financial aid awards. In fact, private, nonprofit colleges on average offer enough aid to decrease first-time, first-year students’ costs by 48.6%. Yet, 55% of families rule out at least one school due to the sticker price before the application process even begins.

 

Conversely, public universities may have a low price, but they don’t typically have the same funds available for financial aid awards. The average discount students at these colleges see is 18.4%. The more expensive private school could be the most affordable option.

 

I’m not implying that either type of school is a better choice than the other is. Rather, my point is that the “sticker” price (the price listed for a college) is rarely what you actually pay. That amount is the net price, and it can be drastically lower than the sticker price is.

 

Focus On Financial Aid

 

To determine which college is most “affordable,” some families concentrate on the total amount of financial aid offered. The largest one wins!

 

The problem with this approach is not all aid sources are created equal. Grants and scholarships are great because they’re free money. Student loans are not, but it’s very common to receive them from the federal government, your state, and your school.

 

When thinking about how much you’ll need to pay, factor in the loans you’ll borrow as part of your net price. (You’ll need to pay them back at some point, after all.)

 

Compare Schools

 

 

Now that you understand what the net price is, you need to figure it out for each school. Comparing apples to apples can be difficult, as financial aid awards and bills come in all shapes and sizes. Very few will look the same, but doing this is worth the work.

 

For every school, calculate the net price by taking the tuition bill amount and subtracting all of the grant money you have been offered. You will need to pay the remaining amount out of pocket or with a loan. Don’t forget to multiply this by the number of years you will attend (typically 2 or 4 years). Use our College Cost Planner to help model this.

 

Now, you’ll have an estimate of how much each school will cost. This doesn’t have to be the only determining factor, but it should be part of your college decision.

 

Need help figuring out which school is the most affordable? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post in the comments, and I’ll help you figure it out.

Greetings, scholarship challengers!

 

With the school year back in full swing, you’re probably bogged down with work, friends, and life in general. Pretty much anything but scholarships, right? Well, to account for that, we’ve devised a super easy challenge this month: identify three professors/academic counselors to meet with at least once per semester.

 

That’s it! In terms of scholarship prep, this one is easy—but important. If you think you can’t find the time for these meetings, remember this: Building relationships with professors will not only help you win scholarships, but it will also set you up for success with your classes. That’s win-win! Let’s talk about why.

 

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Landing Recommendations

 

One of the many reasons students shy away from some scholarships is that they require a letter of recommendation. If you remember the hustling it took to get these for college applications (I definitely do), you might not rush to ask for more for scholarship applications.

 

But that’s the beauty of building a relationship with a professor and/or counselor: It removes the awkwardness from this situation. By meeting with these individuals before you need a recommendation, you won’t feel weird asking when you do. You can even set this possibility up when you first connect with them.

 

Don’t feel bad making your intentions clear. You won’t be the first student to ask that professor for a recommendation—and he or she will surely be happy to provide you with one, so long as you earn it.

 

Become A Better Applicant

 

You can become “scholarship fit” in a few different ways. We’ve covered some of them in previous scholarship challenges, including improving your GPA. In that challenge, we identified a few different strategies to achieve this—like asking for help.

 

Well, what better person to ask for help than a professor/counselor whom you plan to meet with anyway? If you select someone teaching a course you’re currently enrolled in, use your time with him or her to ask for extra credit, help with assignments, etc.

 

You’ll make an awesome impression by doing this at the beginning of the semester (and, of course, delivering on what’s asked of you). Your professor will know you’re serious about your performance, and that will give him or her great fodder for that recommendation you’ll eventually ask for.

 

Choosing Professors/Counselors

 

So, how do you pick your three professors/counselors? Well, the counselor part is easy. Odds are, your school assigned you one or you chose one yourself. Don’t shy away from that relationship. I barely met with my adviser (who was the dean of my school), and it’s something I definitely regret.

 

In terms of professors, I bet that at least one popped into your head when you started reading this post. Perhaps he or she taught a class that you previously performed well in. Or if you’re a freshman, maybe there’s a well-known professor in your school/major who’d make a good ally/mentor.

 

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whom you select—just that you select somebody. (OK, maybe not Professor Professorson.) Remember, professors literally dedicate hours just to meeting with students 1:1. Take advantage of it.

 

We’re 3/4 of the way done with these scholarship challenges. How’s everyone doing? Need any help or have any questions? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post them in the comments!

If you’re new to college, it’s easy to feel confused by all the resources your school offers you—even if you’ve done countless college tours and campus scavenger hunts.

 

Coming into college, I certainly had the traditional walk around campus with your orientation leader experience. While that was great, I don’t think it did justice to the actual resources on campus. It wasn’t until I landed a job at the student activities and engagement office that I really got to understand how many places there were to support students on campus.

 

Once there, I got involved in a program targeted toward the success of students of color on campus, and received some counseling as well. Those were two of the best moves I’ve made in my college career, and had I known about the resources sooner, I could have benefited from them more.

 

Here are seven of my favorite campus resources. Their names, functions, and availability may differ slightly at your school, but you should take advantage of anything similar they offer.

 

1. The Registrar's Office

 

The registrar handles student records and is one of the most important administrative offices on campus. This office can be helpful when you need to add or drop a class after the add/drop date has passed, for instance. They also keep record of your transcripts, and you must go through them when an internship or another school requires your transcript and/or other academic records.

 

2. Student Services

 

Student Services essentially helps you be as successful as you can be while in school. To do this, their services can range from things such as tutoring to help choosing classes. At my school, student services provides “The Writing Center,” which has been a HUGE help during my undergraduate years. If you’re ever struggling with any papers or written assignments, visit your school’s writing center for help.

 

3. The Advising Office

 

The advising office is here to do just what the name states: advise you (in terms of your prospective major). Since I go to a university, several colleges within the school have their own separate advising offices. These offices can help plan out your schedule, make sure you stay on top of your major requirements, switch majors if need be, and more.

 

4. Student Health Services

 

The campus health center/hospital if where you’ll go in case you feel sick or are in an emergency. Familiarize yourself with its location so you know where to go. If you have your own medical insurance, be sure to waive the school-provided plan at the beginning of each year to avoid its extra fees. Here’s some more about my experiences getting health insurance.

 

5. The Career Services Office

 

Seniors usually flock to this office, but you can (and should!) start going to your school’s career services office as early as freshman year. This office is great for finding on-campus jobs. They can also help you apply for jobs, create résumés, practice job interviews, and search for and land internships, which is a must for any college student.  

 

6. Campus Counseling Center

 

It is important to remember to take a step back in college and make sure that you’re not losing sight of yourself and your mental health. College is tough so sometimes it’s good to have a designated place to find support—whether it be in the form of a therapist, a support group, or relaxation classes. Counseling centers offer options like these for you.

 

7. The Dean's Office

 

Most people think that if you’re going to the dean's office, you’re probably in trouble. That is not true. The dean's office can be a great resource to connect you not only with deans (for instance, if you have a hardship affecting your performance in school) but also with case managers who are extremely helpful when going through tough times. You can also find information about student legal services there as well, if needed.


These are just a few campus resources. Did I miss any important ones you use? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know below and share your experiences with campus resources?

Three years is an odd amount of time to be out of school. I wouldn’t quite call myself an adult yet (maybe that happens at the 5-year mark?), but even still, I’m a different person than the one who walked out the gates of Tufts in 2014.

 

I look back at college with a mix of nostalgia and regret. On the whole, my time at Tufts and Oxford was positive: I really did grow up and come into my own in those years. Although I did a lot, I wish that I had tried a few additional things.

 

If you’re going back to school this fall, take some advice from a recent(ish?) grad, and consider adding these three things to your college bucket list.

 

1. Expand Your Friend Group

 

As human beings, I think we’re primed to like cliques: Groups make us feel alike, safe, and secure. I certainly had my clique in college, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. My friend group was composed of some of the closest friends I’ve had in my life. Across 3 years, different states, time zones, and geographies, we’ve all still managed to stay in touch.

 

Still, a part of me wishes I had taken the time to branch out a bit more. Tufts is a relatively small school, but at graduation, I heard so many names called that I couldn’t even put a face too. How amazing were these people, and would my life have changed at all if I had met them?

 

While you can always meet fellow alumni out of school (it definitely happens—I’ve made really great friends that way too!), you only get one chance to know them when you’re all under the same roof. Take some time to chat or hang out with a person you don’t know too well this year. They may end up becoming a great friend that you’ll hold onto long after graduation.

 

2. Really Push Your Comfort Zone

 

I think one of the biggest differences between adulthood and college is the safety cushion that exists outside of your comfort zone. In college, you can literally try anything, and if you don’t like it, you can usually drop it with minimal consequences. Adulthood isn’t as easy—“trying” a different city, for example, requires you to spend money, time, and effort to move there. It’s not a thing you can wake up and decide to take back one day.

 

In school I did some “out there” stuff, like a group underwear run through a quad in the middle of winter to celebrate the end of finals, but mostly, I stuck to what I knew. I took a lot of literature and liberal arts classes, and my extracurricular activities tended to be very writing focused. Looking back, I wish I had really jumped outside my comfort zone and done something like try out for a sports team or take an economics class. If I failed, there would’ve been a huge cushion to catch me.

 

3. Cherish Every Damn Moment

 

Yes, everyone says this to you all the time. From the mouth of someone who was in your position not too long ago, let me add some context.

 

Adulthood is still fun. You will not walk off the graduation stage and enter a world of gray misery. You will, however, enter a world that’s a lot more mundane—one in which you have monthly bills, a 401(k) to think about, and a 9-5 job to do, among other things. There will likely be a routine.

 

Routines are stable, but routines aren’t always fun. They tend to not be very spontaneous. In college, you may have a mini-routine going, but again, there is literally a gigantic safety net to catch you if you really ***** up.

 

If you woke up one morning, decided to skip class, eat ice cream for all three meals, binge Netflix all day, and party with your friends all night, literally nothing awful would happen to you the next morning. When you are a working adult, that flexibility often isn’t there.

 

So, if a friend asks you to go out, your answer should be yes. If somebody asks you to do something stupid and crazy with them, again, say yes (so long as it’s legal, of course!). Say yes to most things while you’re still in college because you can.

 

Anything else that should be on this list? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!  

Salt Community, once the fall semester starts, doesn't it kind of feel like there’s no great time to apply for scholarships? I mean, in September, you deal with the hubbub of adjusting to life at school. Come October, class work picks up—and midterms kick in. Then, it’s a sprint through the holidays and the end of the year.

 

Odds are, you tell yourself you’ll make time for scholarships over winter break. Well, here’s the thing: A LOT of students tell themselves that. And yet, so many awards have deadlines right now.

 

An old cliché for football players is the best ability is availability. (Since it’s almost fall, I can get away with crummy football puns/metaphors, right?) This is true for scholarships as well. If you don’t apply, you can’t win. Period. Simply by making yourself available when others don’t, you put yourself well on your way to scholarship success.

 

OK, enough pep talk. Let’s scare up some free money with these scholarships with October 2017 deadlines. 

 

CVP Scholarship Program

Deadline: October 1, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

“CVP” stands for “Community Veterinary Partners”—but this award isn’t just for future animal docs. It’s for any animal lovers out there. To apply, submit a 500-word essay on one of the following prompts:

 

  • How have animals positively affected your life or the life of someone you know?
  • Why are animal rights important to you?
  • If you had to choose one animal to be, what would you pick and why?

 

If you ever wanted to write an essay about your spirit animal (or maybe your Patronus?), saddle up!

 

AES Engineering Scholarship

Deadline: October 6, 2017

Amount: $500

 

Here’s another one with a misleading title. Despite coming from an organization named “AES Engineering,” this award is available to all high school seniors and college students. In fact, they specifically say, “You are not required to be taking Engineering courses to be eligible.” (Example #5,489 of why you can’t judge a scholarship by its name!)

 

To apply, submit a 500- to 1,000-word essay on the following prompt: “When you look back on your life in 30 years, what would it take for you to consider your life successful? What relationships or accomplishments will be important on this journey?”

 

CJ Pony Parts Scholarship Video Contest

Deadline: October 15, 2017

Amount: $500

 

This award is open to all U.S. residents in any field of study, though it might help if you’re a bit of a gearhead.

 

CJ Pony Parts, a leader seller of Mustang auto parts, is looking for short videos (under 3 minutes) based on a few different prompts. Most of these are car related (like “What is your first memory of a Mustang?”), but I personally like this one: “CJ Pony Parts has been around for over 30 years; where do you see yourself 30 years from now?”

 

Why? Well, perhaps you already gave this topic some thought for the AES Engineering Scholarship above. In that case, you can probably reuse your ideas to apply for this award, too, though I wouldn’t suggest just reading your essay on camera. They do specifically state that creativity counts. Maybe if you read it in a funny costume or something ...

 

College JumpStart Scholarship Program

Deadline: October 17, 2017

Amount: $1,000

 

The College JumpStart Scholarship is available to high school students from grades 10 through 12, as well as all college students and non-traditional students, who are U.S. citizens. To apply, you need to submit a 250-word personal statement on one of the following prompts:

 

  • What are your educational goals?
  • How will winning this scholarship help you attain your goals?
  • Write about a time when "hard work" paid off.
  • Describe your experience with community service and volunteering and how that has affected you and your outlook.

 

PAVE 2017 Student Design Competition

Deadline: October 31, 2017

Amount: $7,500 (first place)

 

This is a different type of scholarship competition, and it may speak to those of you who are more creatively inclined (as opposed to us word-nerd, essay-writing types). To win this award, you need to “re-invent the experience of Chick-fil-A on a college campus.” They want you to “push the envelope” in terms of making Chick-fil-A about more than just buying food. (I’m guessing just suggesting they stay open on Sundays won’t cut it.)

 

Four winners will be selected, with first prize worth $7,500. Winners will also be honored at a gala (oooohhh!) in New York City, and you can submit a team entry.

 

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

Deadline: October 31, 2017

Amount: Up to $20,000

 

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program has helped high school students achieve their college dreams for close to 30 years. Unfortunately, you can’t reuse your “where I see myself in 30 years” essay with them; rather, you’ll go through a multi-round application process to help them identify 150 eventual winners. Applicants must be high school students and U.S. citizens.

 

Their website has a bunch of helpful info for your applications—but Salt members have an additional leg up. You can hear directly from the program’s president, J. Mark Davis, about what he looks for from applicants in this video on our main website. That’s some definitely useful intel.

 

Not to be outdone, Dr. Pepper also has a scholarship program with a deadline this month. Theirs is a bit more complicated (it involves getting your friends to vote for you—and then some kind of football throw-off?), but comes with a prize of up to $100,000. That deadline to apply is October 18.

 

Have any questions about these awards, or looking for something else? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post in the comments!

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.

 

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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.

 

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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!