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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.

 

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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.

We’re almost 25% of the way through 2017—time flies when you’re having fun I guess.

 

I’ve put together another list of awesome scholarships with deadlines coming up in April 2017. To those of you who are participating (or vowed to participate) in the 2017 Scholarship Challenge, I will check in on each of you during the month of March to see how things are going (don’t be shocked if you get a message from me!).

 

In two weeks, I’ll post the third scholarship challenge and that challenge heavily relies on you completing the first two challenges. If you want to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and learn from an expert (me!) who used scholarships to eliminate the burden of college financing, now’s the time!

 

For everyone else, feel free to raise your voice if don’t see a scholarship that you can apply for on this list. Simply give me a shout in the comments with your eligibility requirements, and I’ll try to include a scholarship for you next month.

 

As always, good luck!

 

Ray Greenly Scholarship

Amount: $25,000

Deadline: April 3, 2017

 

This scholarship is open to students who have a creative and entrepreneurial spirit and who can articulate innovative ways to connect retailers to the digital world.

 

“Essay 1: Innovation (one-page maximum):

Tell us about an app or product that is cutting-edge and has changed the way you shop or has the potential to do so. Explain why it is innovative and how it makes the shopping experience better. Include any suggestions you have for making it even better. Be original and choose something unique that will make you stand out.”

 

“Personal Brand Video (maximum of two minutes):

Create a video that reveals who you are, what you are passionate about, what you intend to do in your career, and how you will get there. There is no specific format to follow, so be creative!

This is not a video resume. It is your chance to differentiate yourself from other applicants.”

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a college sophomore, junior, or senior undergraduate student

  • Must be studying full time at an accredited U.S. college or university

 

Donaldson D. Frizzell Scholarship

Amount: $30,000

Deadline: April 7, 2017

 

This scholarship is awarded in honor of Donaldson D. Frizzell. Frizzell was a former First Command Educational Foundation (FCEF) President and former First Command Financial Services Director of Investments for over three decades.

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a traditional or non-traditional student (see scholarship website for details)

  • Must be a member of the U.S. uniformed services (active, guard, reserve, retired, or non-retired veteran) or a dependent family member of the above mentioned services; OR a first Command Financial Services’ client or their dependent family member; OR a dependent family members of First Command Advisors or field office staff member; OR a non-contractual ROTC student

  • Must have at least a 3.0 GPA

  • Must be able to pass a free online course on basic financial literacy

 

WU Scholars Program

Amount: $2,500

Deadline: April 12, 2017

 

This scholarship is offered by Washington Mutual (hence, WU) to help students who exemplify perseverance, aspiration, and community involvement.

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or business

  • Must be between 18 and 26 years of age

  • Must be studying at an accredited post-secondary institution seeking an undergraduate degree

 

HENAAC Scholarship For Hispanics

Amount: Up to $10,000

Deadline: April 30, 2017

 

It’s the HENAAC time of year again! If you qualify, but haven’t applied for the HENAAC scholarship, then I highly suggest you throw your hat in the ring this year!

 

The HENAAC scholarship is a very prestigious scholarship awarded to students of Hispanic descent. Over $2M in scholarships have been awarded thus far to students pursuing degrees in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have a GPA of 3.0 or greater

  • Must be majoring in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or a math-related major

  • Must demonstrate your leadership through academic achievements and campus/community activities

  • Must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program for the preceding fall semester at an accredited 2-year or 4-year college/university in the United States or its territories

  • Must be of Hispanic origin and/or must have significantly participated in organizations and activities in the Hispanic community

 

Have any questions on these? Log in or sign up with your Salt account to let me know—and for a limited time, earn 50 bonus points for doing so!

Few people know what it means to be an “independent student” at a college or university. If you do, you likely understand how difficult it can be—from both a procedural and a personal standpoint.

 

When I applied for independence, I had no knowledge on what to do, and because the process lasted so long, I was constantly worried about the outcome. In the end, I achieved my financial aid independence. If you think you may need to do the same, here are a few things I learned during the process that could help you.

 

Know Who Qualifies (And Why)

 

To get federal financial aid for college, all students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Dependent students must provide their parents’ financial information on this form. Independent students provide only their own information, and they can receive more financial aid because they lack financial support from their parents or family. To determine whether you qualify as an independent student, check out the reasons on the federal student aid website.

 

If you’re like me, you’ll likely seek independence because of an inability to provide parental information on your FAFSA. In this case, consider doing what I did: becoming an emancipated minor. This won’t make sense for everyone. But for me, it seemed like a logical step because I  was already on my own long before I needed to apply for college and had a substantial amount of documentation for it. I also had the support of various teachers and school officials. If you are in a similar position, talk to the guidance counselors at your school about this option.

 

To start the overall process, ask your financial aid office about their protocol on applying for independence. Also, if you don’t fall into any of the standard categories for independent students, you may ask them for a “dependency override” if you’re dealing with an unusual situation.

 

Prepare Yourself

 

Once you have figured out which criteria you meet, it is important to start gathering your paperwork. This means any and every piece of documentation you can find to support your case as to why you need to be considered an independent student.

 

For my situation, this included letters from guidance counselors and teachers vouching for me, letters from courts or agencies I’ve been a part of, and receipts and/or hospital records. Collect pretty much anything that shows concrete proof of what you are asking the financial aid office at your school to take into consideration.

 

Be prepared to make calls to the financial aid office to stay on top of your application. They may request several documents from you. In my case, these requests came long after I submitted my application. The process of granting independence can take several weeks on its own, so the last thing you want to do is to slow it down.

 

Stay Patient

 

Keep in mind that these things are hard and take time. It’s hard not to worry about your financial situation for college, but it’s equally important to keep your emotional health in check. Remember to take time out for yourself and to confide in someone so that you are not alone during the process. I leaned heavily on my support system during this time.

 

Being granted independence for college is something that’s rarely talked about. I wouldn’t have known about this option if not for my financial aid adviser at my high school who pushed me to apply for independence after reviewing my award packages. I hope I was able to provide some clarity for at least one student who may have to go through this. 

 

Do you have questions about this process? Log in or sign up to post them in the comments.

 

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

 

How are you all coming along on the first challenge? (Challenge #1: Find 10 Scholarships is due by February 28, 2017). Each challenge builds upon the previous challenge so you’ll want to jump in early to get the most benefit (you still have until Tuesday to complete the first challenge)!

 

Today, I’ve got the scoop on challenge #2. Remember, I based these challenges on skills that allowed me to pay for my entire college education with scholarships! There’s no reason you can’t win some awards by doing the same!

 

Challenge #2: Transform Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

 

If you’re like most students, a big part of the challenge with finding scholarships is actually convincing yourself that you could win. Meaning, you might be “eligible” for a scholarship, but you are hesitant to apply because you don’t think that you’ll win. Perhaps it’s because it’s a prestigious scholarship—or maybe you feel that way about every scholarship!

 

This month’s challenge is designed to give you the confidence, skills, and credentials you need to win any scholarship. How? Simple:

 

Review the 10 scholarships you’ve collected from Challenge #1 and identify five areas where you are weakest. Then, think of at least three things that you could do to greatly improve each weakness. 

 

If you want to win a scholarship (or lots of scholarships), you have to be willing to work hard on both your application and yourself. The first step to winning is knowing what we’re currently working with. We have to know what we are good at and what we are bad at to determine where we need to improve.

 

Read through each of the 10 scholarship applications that you’ve collected and highlight the questions, essays, and requirements that you feel the least confident about.

 

Are you not confident in your writing skills?

 

Do you lack strong letters of recommendation?

 

Is there a special challenge (like writing a poem or filming a video) that you aren’t too sure about?

 

Identify at least five of these potential areas of weakness and come up with three things you can (and will!) do to improve each area.

 

Here are tips for overcoming some common weaknesses:

 

1. Essays

 

This is by far the most common scholarship weakness. If you’re like most students, then you’re not too confident in your writing abilities. That’s OK! It’s easy to improve your writing.

 

I improved my writing by having writing professors review and provide feedback on my scholarship essays, working on my writing daily by free writing, and reading books (the more you read, the more comfortable you become with vocabulary and sentence structure—it really works!).

 

2. Community Service

 

Accumulating community service hours is one of the easiest ways to improve your scholarship application. If you currently don’t have a lot of community service hours, then I highly suggest that you work on a plan for increasing your hours to at least 100 hours or more.

 

3. GPA

 

While GPA is more of a long-term improvement, it is definitely worth the investment. While there is no “easy” way to improve your GPA other than earning better grades, there are some methods to consider.

 

For example, opt to take less-challenging electives to balance out more challenging courses, take honors courses to boost your GPA quickly, and aske your professors for bonus assignments for extra credit (doesn’t hurt!).

 

4. Awards & Honors

 

Winning awards can be easier than you think. Many times, it’s just about showing up! Keep your eyes open for contests, club memberships, and annual academic awards at your college (and be sure to sign up and throw your hat into the ring).

 

5. Recommendations

 

Letters of recommendation are key for many scholarship judges, and you should work hard to find at least three professors who would be willing to write you a glowing letter. If you don’t have these allies now, then start by scheduling meetings with your best professors and introducing yourself.

 

Let them know a little about you, your goals, and that you’ll be applying for scholarships that require letters of recommendation. Then, participate in class, be cordial to your professor, and try your best do well academically. The letter practically writes itself!

 

The key to overcoming any challenge is to apply yourself honestly. If you try your best and commit yourself to improvement (no matter how slow), you will improve. In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

 

Having trouble? Ping me in the comments below (@dianemelville) with your questions, and I will do my best to help!

 

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

How is everyone doing on the 2017 Scholarship Challenge? (Does the silence in the comments mean that everyone is doing well?)

 

If you still need a few more scholarships to round out your list for challenge #1, check out these scholarships with deadlines coming up in March. For those of you who are not participating in the scholarship challenge, do not fear—this is the same ole monthly scholarship list that you know and love.

 

Don’t see a scholarship for you? Give me a shout in the comments with your requirements, and I’ll try to include a scholarship for you next month.

 

As always, good luck!

 

The Tailhook Educational Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $2,000 – $10,000

Deadline: March 1, 2017

 

The Tailhook Educational Foundation is dedicated to preserving the memory of the United States Navy carrier aviation by providing scholarships to those who have served (and their families) in the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Applications for this scholarship are available online.

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a high school graduate
  • Must be accepted to an undergraduate institution
  • Must be the natural, step, or adopted child/grandchild or a current or former Naval Aviator, Naval Flight Officer, or Aircrewman from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, or U.S. Coast Guard

 

National Association Of Black Journalists: Allison E. Fisher Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Deadline: March 1, 2017

 

The Allison E. Fisher Scholarship is being offered by Ronald and Pat Fisher in memory of their daughter Allison Fisher, a journalist who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 28. Applicants must complete an online application, transcripts, work samples, and a 1,000- to 2,000-word essay on the following topic:

 

“What are the top three (3) reasons you would like to pursue a career in journalism and what do you hope your legacy as a journalist will be?”

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be majoring in journalism or communications
  • Must have a GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Must have a history of community service

 

Cancer Survivors’ Fund Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: March 3, 2017

 

The Cancer Survivors’ Fund is offering various scholarship awards to students who are cancer survivors or currently diagnosed with cancer. Applicants must complete a simple online application, letters of recommendation, and a 500- to 1,200-word essay on the following topic:

 

“How has my experience with cancer impacted my life values and career goals?”

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a cancer survivor or currently diagnosed with cancer
  • Must be enrolled or accepted into an accredited undergraduate institution
  • Must be open to performing cancer-related volunteer work if selected as the winner

 

Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship

Amount: $2,000 - $4,400

Deadline: March 8, 2017

 

The Michael Yasick scholarship is dedicated to students who are struggling with ADHD in the United States. To apply for this scholarship, students must complete an online application and a personal statement on the following topic:

 

“Applicants are asked to write an essay describing the challenges they have faced in living with ADHD and how they have met them, and sharing insight about themselves, their interests, hobbies, community work, and career aspirations.”

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Must be accepted or enrolled in a 2- or 4-year undergraduate or graduate program
  • Must be attending an accredited college, university, trade school, technical school, vocational school, or qualifying institution in the United States
  • Must be a legal resident of the 50 United States or District of Columbia

 

Paul S. Mills Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: March 30, 2017

 

The Foundation for Financial Service Professionals is offering an undergraduate award to students who are pursuing a career in the field of financial services. To apply for this scholarship, students must complete an online application and a personal statement on the following topic:

 

“Why do you wish to pursue an education in the financial service field and why is this scholarship important to you?”

 

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a United States citizens or legal residents
  • Must be living in the 50 United States and DC or U.S. territories
  • Must be a full-time student
  • Must be enrolled or accepted into an undergraduate college or university program
  • Must be pursuing a major in the financial services industry
  • Must demonstrate financial need

 

Other scholarships:

The Christine B. Foundation Scholarship Program

The Lt. Jon C. Ladda Memorial Foundation

The Palumbo Family Foundation Scholarship for Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will Counties of Illinois

 

Have any questions on these?  Log in or sign up to let me knowand for a limited time, earn 50 bonus points for doing so!

For students attending U.S. institutions from abroad, the recent travel ban may have raised some important questions regarding affordability. Many of these students may have planned to travel home for the summer, but concerns about being able to reenter the country may discourage them from doing so now.

 

At this time, we still don't know how the ban will impact students long-term. However, it has forced many to face a pressing, unexpected question: How do you come up with the funds to afford last-minute room and board? Reducing your expenses can be a big help, but unfortunately, that likely won’t save you enough on its own. Combined with a few other options, though, it just might.

 

We’ve compiled a few resources we hope will help, but for on campus support, a good first stop will be your school’s international student office.

 

Find Additional Aid

 

International students often qualify for grants and scholarships, which are a great option since they don’t need to be paid back. Even though it’s later in the school year, organizations offer scholarships year-round. You can find scholarships by their due dates here.

 

You also may be able to borrow money for school. This is common in the United States, though some cultures are averse to this practice. In the event that you plan to seek a loan for continuing your education, consider a few important points before you do. You will need to ensure your loan funds reach the school (disburse) by the last day of your term.

 

Students are usually able to borrow up to their school’s calculated cost of attendance (COA), or the total amount required to cover tuition, room, board and estimated supplies. Think of this as the total amount you’re allowed to borrow, not the amount you will need. Since loans have to be paid back with interest, it’s always best to minimize the amount you take out.

 

Work

 

The F-1 visa allows international students to work in the United States, but it limits where and how much. At this point in the semester, campus jobs may be scarce, but you can still keep an eye out for openings due to summer turn-over. Also, make sure you’ve exhausted all your options. Many schools employ students in roles such as teaching assistants and food service. Campus tutoring centers and student support offices may also offer employment opportunities.

 

You may also qualify for some off-campus work exceptions related to your area of study. These typically come in two forms: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). CPT refers to things like credit-bearing internships required by your major. Part-time job opportunities related to your field of study may be covered under OPT, however, any amount of OPT you use now could impact how much you’re able to use later on.

 

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides strict guidelines on working while on an F1 visa. It is important to review these carefully.

 

Spread The Word

 

If you’re not personally affected by recent events, you can still help those who are. More than ever, it’s important to share resources on campus and within your community that are available to students in need. Large unplanned expenses can lead to a number of problems, including housing and food insecurity.

 

Many students are unaware of the offices, tools, and resources that exist to help them—and may not even know where to begin looking. These will vary by school and community, but examples might include school-based assistance with housing, scholarship counseling help via financial aid or college access programs, or in dire situations: food and housing support services. Aside from the international studies office, check your school directory or ask a professor about offices devoted to student support services. Often, the dedicated staff members who work in these offices will know about community resources as well.

 

Leverage the power of your community—online and offline—to communicate with others and provide support. Whether you’re sharing details on campus social media pages or using good old fashioned announcement boards, get the word out that there’s help. And never underestimate the power of good old word of mouth. It may not seem like much, but it could make all the difference. It also shows that you care.

 

Have you or others at your school been affected by the recent travel ban? Was this advice helpful and is there more we can add? We welcome more practical advice for helping students.

It’s the last day of the first month of a new year. If you haven’t set goals for the year ahead of us yet, you still have time to do so in January! (Or to start them again, if you’ve already bailed!)

 

I, for one, love to set goals. It helps me stay focused, motivated, and accomplished. However, if you’re not careful, it is easy to set goals that make you feel overwhelmed or unsuccessful. While I do have big dreams, I know that achieving them takes time and lots of hard work. Here’s how I ensure that I can.

 

Stay Practical

 

I never set a goal that is not practical time-wise. I often write down everything I want to and then pick out what I can fit into a year’s time frame.

 

For example, saying that I want a car by the end of the year may not work for me if I take on an unpaid internship. However, I can say I will save a certain amount of money by the end of the year to put toward my car. I think a good indicator of a strong goal is one that is measurable. If you can’t put down a time frame on it, then it’s best to break it down further.

 

Balance Short- And Long-Term Goals

 

Like I said before, goals help me feel motivated and accomplished. Feeling accomplished helps me feel more motivated to go after whatever else I want, and so that is why I set more short-term goals. Personally, I consider long-term goals as ones that are attainable in “x” amount of years, while I can achieve short-term goals in weeks, months, or less than a year.

 

I enjoy these because committing myself to something, and then achieving what I set out to do is a great feeling. For instance, last summer I told myself I would save all my $5 bills and ended up with over $250 in just a few weeks! This motivated me to save for a longer amount of time and for a set amount of money ($400). I am still currently working on this goal as I started last semester.

 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

 

Sometimes, we set goals and don’t meet them, but that does not mean we failed.

 

For myself, I set a goal of getting all A’s and B’s for fall semester (I wanted to make Dean's List again). I almost had it, except for one math class, which I obtained a C in. At first, I was upset, but after reflecting, I was actually really proud of myself.

 

Although I didn’t meet the goal, I still did everything in my power to achieve it, such as seeing my TAs more, reaching out to professors, and getting tutoring specifically for math class. I am now more certain that I can take on the higher level math class I have for the spring semester.


What are some things you guys keep in mind when setting goals? Log in or sign up and let me know belowand for a limited time, earn 50 bonus points for doing so!

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Welcome to the first official scholarship challenge for 2017! (Check out this blog post if you have no idea what I’m talking about). I’m so excited to kick this off with you all—and I hope that we can win tons of scholarship money as a team.

We’re going to start slow at first, but we’ll really pick up steam as the challenges continue. Don’t get left behind, jump on board!

Challenge #1: Find 10 Scholarships by February 28, 2017

This first exercise is all about finding the scholarships that you’ll be applying for in 2017 as a part of this challenge:

 

Your first challenge is to go out and find at least 10 scholarships (with deadlines ranging from March 2017 to December 2017) that you are absolutely committed to applying to this year—no matter what.

All participants in the challenge should post links to their 10 scholarships below by February 28.

 

My job is to review your dream scholarships and make sure to design challenges throughout the year to help you apply (and, of course, win) your chosen scholarships.

Tips:

  • Deadlines: Find scholarships with deadlines in March 2017 or later. I have a few challenges planned in February and March related to scholarship essays that you’ll probably want to do before applying for one of your scholarships.
  • Read the articles: I’ve posted some helpful articles below that give practical advice on how to use scholarship search engines and find great scholarships.
  • 1-hour sessions: Each time that you sit down to search for scholarships, commit to spending at least 1 hour on that session. Scholarships can be tricky to find, so you’re going to have to dedicate some time to searching deeply. Remember, it may take many of these 1-hour scholarship search sessions to find your ideal set of 10 scholarships.
  • Mix & match! Try to include a mix of general scholarships (those that are open to all students) and specific scholarships (those that are tailored for your specific circumstances).
  • Nope” scholarships: Remember, If a scholarship doesn’t look appealing to you (like a 1,000-word essay contest on Lincoln’s favorite BBQ restaurant), then it probably won’t look appealing to a lot of other students. If a scholarship looks annoying, it will probably receive few applications (giving you a greater chance of winning). Learn to love the scholarships that you traditionally say “NOPE” to.
  • Don’t be picky: People out there are handing out free money in exchange for completing an application, and there are no consequences for being denied. Apply to as many as you can!
  • Having trouble? Ping me in the comments below (@dianemelville) with your questions, and I will do my best to help!

Helpful Articles

I’ve published a few articles over the years on Salt that may be helpful for you to review before you start your scholarship search. Here are a few that I think are most relevant:

Ready to get started? Log in or sign up to join the challenge!