Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to secure the right scholarship for you

This spring, Peirce College Student Financial Service Specialists are leading a series of workshops to help students like you navigate the financial aid process. In January, April Battle-Johnson hosted a financial aid workshop that answered students’ toughest questions about borrowing student loans responsibly. And in February, Cherita Brown led a workshop to guide students in the process of applying for scholarships.
Scholarships are a great funding option that can help lower your student loan debt. As you choose which scholarships to apply for, remember to be aware of their requirements and how being awarded a scholarship can affect existing financial aid opportunities. If you weren’t able to catch Cherita’s workshop, here’s a recap of the most important points.


When should you apply for a scholarship?

You should plan to look for and apply to scholarships as early as possible, meaning well before the academic year starts. For instance, scholarships available through Peirce are made available each year by July 1. 
However, each scholarship will have its own individual and specific deadline date, and it is subject to change over a period of time. Check in with your Student Financial Services Specialist throughout the year or with your Admissions Representative during your application process to learn about specific deadlines. 

What types of scholarships are available?

Many scholarships are merit-based, meaning they are earned by meeting or exceeding certain academic standards determined by the scholarship provider. For example, achieving and maintaining a certain grade point average is often a requirement for scholarships. 
There are also scholarships specific to certain groups of students. For example, there are scholarships available to women, to those who are serving or have served in the military, first-year students, and many more. 
Peirce’s available scholarships can be viewed at www.peirce.edu/FinancialAid/Scholarships.    
How do I apply? 

It’s important to follow the guidelines and requirements for each scholarship.  If the guidelines are not provided, we recommend formatting your application in the following manner: 
  • Two to three pages in length 
  • Double spaced
  • 12 point, Times New Roman font
  • One-inch top, bottom, and side margins
Cherita suggests always making hard copies of your application for your records, and if you are sending your application in the mail, always request a delivery confirmation.  This way, you have proof that you have submitted your application before the deadline. 

How much of my tuition will a scholarship cover?

Scholarships come in various amounts -- they can cover the cost of your entire education, one semester, or a selected number of classes. In any case, scholarships are a better option than loans for most students, because there is no debt involved with a scholarship. So, it’s worth researching which ones might work for you. 

Will my scholarship affect my other financial aid awards

The short answer to this is yes -- scholarships affect other forms of financial aid. During the workshop, Cherita’s rule of thumb is: A student’s total awarded financial aid (grants, loans, scholarships, etc.) cannot exceed their cost of attendance. 

If you’re not sure what your cost of attendance is, you can calculate your cost of attendance by downloading and using this worksheet

If you ever have questions about how a scholarship might impact your financial aid, contact your Student Financial Services Specialist right away. They will be able to answer any questions and walk you through the process.

Our workshop series will continue throughout the spring.  Our next workshop about Student Loan Refunds will be held on Thursday, March 25, from 4 to 5 p.m. in room 51. 

If you have any questions regarding these or any other financial aid topics, please leave a comment below or contact Student Financial Services