ScholarshipOwl x CollegeAdvisor: Applying to Scholarships 101

Want to apply for Scholarships, but not sure where to start? Join Director of Outreach and Advocacy at ScholarshipOwl, Jennifer Finetti, and former Admissions Officer, Ashly Cargle-Thompson, as they provide an overview on everything you need to know about scholarships. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 08/25/2022
Duration 1:00:42

Webinar Transcription

2022-08-25 – ScholarshipOwl x CollegeAdvisor: Applying to Scholarships 101

Hi everyone. My name is Lonnie Webb and I am your moderator for today. Welcome to ScholarshipOwl with CollegeAdvisor: Applying to Scholarships 101 webinar. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab.

Now let’s meet our panelists.

Uh, hi, I’m Jennifer Finetti. I’m from ScholarshipOwl. Uh, I’m the Director of Outreach and Advocacy and my role there is to help students like you figure out how to make college more affordable and apply for as many scholarships as you can. Hi everyone. My name’s Ashly Cargle-Thompson. I’m a former admissions advisor and Admissions Officer at CollegeAdvisor.

Um, I’m also the team lead for our financial aid specialist team. Uh, so I have a pretty extensive background in financial aid. And one of the things that I’m really passionate about is making demystifying the entire process and making it accessible, uh, to as many people as possible. So hopefully we can do that tonight.

Nice, nice. We have, this is a really great topic. All about the money. Get to learn how to fund our college tuition. So I’m excited for the material that you all are gonna share before we get started, though, let’s start with our poll. So we wanna get a sense of what grade you all are in. So please let us know.

Okay. So we have about 60% of our attendees are in the 12th grade, followed by that we have about 30% or other, which I would assume is probably a parent or guardian. And then 16% are in the 11th grade. And then we have a few ninth and 10th graders. So I will hand it over to you all. And Ashly, do you wanna kick us off?

Yeah, absolutely. So we’re gonna start with the real basic stuff. What do you need to think about when you are trying to finance a college education? Um, there’s three categories of costs that you could consider, uh, when you’re thinking about how much is this gonna be? What plans do I need to make the most important and the most, um, Universal is the cost of attendance, or you’ll see it sometimes, uh, abbreviated to COA.

And basically what that is, is the sum of everything. It would cost for a student to enroll full time for an academic year at a given institution. The cost of attendance is also important because it’s the cost. Every school sets its own cost of attendance with the department of education. And so that also will help them figure out what your need is, uh, based on what you submit with the FAFSA.

So. Easy. I gave you guys a little, um, equation or a little formula, but basically the cost of attendance is the sum of tuition fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, if applicable and miscellaneous expenses. So just basically kind of self-care items, just the things that don’t fit into that category.

That’s a really important number for you guys to settle in on, and for you to focus in on it’s the first number you should focus on. Um, and you can find it. Any of these numbers, you should be able to find on the financial aid website, um, of any institution. The next cost category is tuition and fees. And that’s the one I think most people are most familiar with.

Um, there are a few ways that you might see tuition and fees expressed though, depending on the university or college that you’re looking at sometimes. Tuition is listed as quarterly, uh, semesterly or by term, depending on whether it’s, um, quarter system trimesters, that type of thing, or sometimes you’ll see the annual expense.

So it’s really important for you to read the fine print, uh, for how much is how, how are they, um, kind of breaking up their tuition. It can also be charged per credit hour per semester or per term. Um, fees are usually assessed. It’s usually a flat fee. Um, that’s assessed annually or per term or per per, excuse me, per semester.

You won’t always find a perfect itemization of the fees, but you can usually find some estimate of the fees and common things that you’ll see fees for are usually technology. Recreation and wellness, um, student health. So that covers going to the student health center. Um, if your, the, if your student is taking sciences, or if your’re student taking sciences, you might have some lab fees that show up there, um, or you’ll see activities and student fees, but usually that’s what funds student government and the fun things that they do on campus for you fees can cha can vary wildly from program to program institution, to institution.

So it’s important to know some fees can be. Um, in the four digits in the thousands of dollars, depending on how the school breaks fees down, uh, and some could be relatively low, a few hundred dollars a semester. So it’s important to know what fees are adding, uh, to the bottom line. And then finally net cost is ultimately you’re out of pocket.

So you’re going to find out what all of the cost of attendance is. You’re gonna be able to break out what tuition and fees are. Once you are admitted into a school and you receive your financial aid packet. You will find out you will be able to calculate what your out of pocket cost is. Usually they’ll also calculate it for you, um, in your financial aid letter.

Um, so if you’re trying to figure out a formula for net cost, that’s the cost of attendance minus any accepted financial aid. So that means that if you are offered a loan and you choose not to take it, then obviously those loans wouldn’t be included in the net cost or wouldn’t be deducted from the net cost.

So while we’re talking about, uh, loans, um, one of the one term that you might hear a lot when financial aid comes out, uh, is need blindness versus need awareness. Um, and I wanna dispel a couple of myths that can come, or a couple of misunderstandings that can come when we talk. Those things need blindness means that your ability to pay is not considered in the admissions decision.

That also often means that the admissions officers are not even privy to your financial information that that is handled elsewhere. Need awareness means that your ability to pay is or could be considered in the admissions decision. And that is something that admissions officers might be able to, or your admissions team might make a decision based on.

Um, you’re seeing more and more schools, um, identify as need blind need awareness is pretty rare these days. Um, but a few generations ago that was absolutely something that schools would take into, um, Into account. One thing that’s really important for you to understand is that need blindness and need awareness are admissions policies.

They are not financial aid policies, a really common misunderstanding with, um, with need blindness is that it means that I will be admitted if I’m a low income student I’m I will be admitted and I might receive full funding. Sometimes students get that mixed up. It has nothing to do with your financial aid package.

So just know that this is really just a decision telling you that your ability to pay is not a factor in the decision to admit you to a school or college

where you do have, um, where you do run into financial aid. Uh, decisions is. In situations where a school is talking about meeting financial need. So you’ll see more and more schools using language stating that they will meet the full financial need of any students who are admitted. Um, what that means is that your financial aid package will cover the entire cost of attendance.

However, your financial aid package will consist of multiple things. It could have merit based awards, it could have institutional need based awards. It could have institutional merit based awards. It could have federal, um, need based grants or federal loans. It could include loans that usually do include loans, and it could even, depending on how.

Your FAFSA information comes in and depending on the school’s own formulas, it could even include an out of pocket, a family’s out of pocket. The school will determine what your ability to pay is as well. Um, and so your financial aid packet package, if the school determines that your family can afford to pay $10,000, then that will be listed in the financial aid package that is meeting a hundred percent of your need.

So please, please, please make sure that you understand that meaningful need does not mean full ride. It does not mean that you won’t be that your financial aid, uh, package will not have loans. And it doesn’t mean that your financial aid package will not expect any out of pocket, um, payment from the family.

So in order to figure out what need is and what your need is. There are two main administrative processes that you’ll have to go through that you might have to go through. Um, and you’ll become very, very, very familiar, uh, with these acronyms. The first one, which a lot of you I’m sure have already heard of is the FAFSA.

Uh, that’s the free application for federal student aid. It is only an application. Um, it is not in and of itself, your loans. It doesn’t itself give you the loans. All it does is collect information, aggregate that data, use a formula and tell schools. And you, what your estimated family contribution would be, what your.

Out of pocket could be, or should be based on other financial information that you would, uh, submit to the FAFSA. Some of the things that you need to submit. And really the main thing that, um, you’re submitting in the FAFSA is that you’re, it’s your IRS, um, tax information for seniors this year, you would be submitting your 2020 tax information.

Um, and they will use that largely as well as some other information that they ask for, um, to determine your EFC. Um, the EFC is what it is. That does not. And, but if you see it, don’t panic. If you’re thinking like this is not a reflection of what our day to day finances are, um, there are appeals processes that you can do upon admission to different schools.

So even though it’s really difficult to have your EFC adjusted, unless there’s like a very clear and apparent error in your FASA, there are still ways to provide additional information. And to kind of clarify what your financial situation is, if the EFC isn’t a good reflection of that. Um, the other acronym that you might see is the college scholarship service that’s called the CSS profile.

The difference, the main difference between the FAFSA and the CSS profile is that the FAFSA is required for any domestic student, any us student, um, who has us citizenship, or is otherwise, um, Is otherwise approved to get a federal aid. Um, the CSS service is actually not required for everyone it’s required based on the schools that you’re applying to.

So some schools identify as CSS partner institutions, and they will require you to complete the CSS profile. What the CSS profile is. It’s kind of like a common app for financial aid. So it’s a, uh, application very similar to the FAFSA, except for it asks even more questions. Um, it also asks a lot of questions about your interests, about your family background, um, about your academic interest, any, um, any extracurriculars that you do, it asks it wants a really complete picture of your.

Of the student, as well as the family’s financial situation, it will also ask for things like proof of income, like pay stubs and things like that. And that can feel intrusive sometimes. But what I want for everyone to understand about that is that where the FAFSA formula for figuring out EFC is kind of clunky and generalized.

The fact that the CSS is asking you for additional information, asking you for proof of income and, um, other information about your interests. That means that they’re able to have a more precise formula. Um, they’re really trying to figure out. What is your actual day to day financial situation like, so even though it can feel intrusive, it’s actually beneficial to give them more information.

Now, the CSS where the, where the FAFSA is figuring out your EFC, which is largely used to determine need and federal aid, the CSS is actually there to help schools determine your eligibility for institutional aid. And Jen will get into those differences. Um, a little bit later. But basically these are institutions saying that we have money.

We have money to give students, but we have all kinds of restrictions on our different pots of money. We want to make sure that we don’t leave any money on the table. So we have to ask all of these very specific questions and have a very clear understanding of a student’s need so that we can make sure that any awards, any financial aid that we have for students institutionally is being allocated appropriately and as fully as possible.

The other big difference between the FAFSA and the CSS is that DACA, undocumented students, international students are eligible for. To submit a CSS and for any funds that they received through the CSS, because again, this is institutional funding, this is coming directly from the college. Um, so usually it’s some sort of private funds.

So those are your two big categories of financial aid administration. Um, and I believe that Jen will take it from here.

Jen. I think you’re still muted. You are correct. okay. Thank you for letting me know. Um, so there are three primary sources of scholarships, institutional scholarships, like, uh, what Ashly just talked about local scholarships in your community and external private scholar. So institutional scholarships, our scholarships offer directly by each college or university.

These are scholarships you can apply for only if you’re going to be applying to that particular school. Some colleges will automatically consider you for scholarships. Once you submit your regular application to the school, while others will have a separate scholarship application process, you’ll need to reach your research.

This for each college you’re gonna be applying to and find out what the scholarship application deadlines are. Don’t assume that the university will notify you about scholarships. It’s up to you to do the legwork and to make sure you apply on time and be aware that the scholarship application deadline is typically prior to admission decisions being sent out.

So you don’t wanna be that student who waits until all those acceptances comes in and then you decide to apply for scholarships because by then scholarships may already have been awarded to other student. So the next great source of scholarships are the local ones in your own community. The easiest way to find out about them is to ask your high school guidance, counselor or career center staff member.

If you have a career center at your high school. Um, and of course, if you’re currently attending community college, you can do the same thing. You can ask your guidance counselor at your college, uh, or you can also visit the career center at your college. Most high schools and community colleges do keep track of local scholarships.

And in fact, in many cases, the schools might even have a single application that you can use to apply for scholarships available from local organizations and small businesses in your community. Uh, local scholarships are really awesome because there’s not as much competition since those scholarships are typically targeted to the local area where you live.

And finally, there are many, many scholarships offered by third party organizations that are the private, external scholarships. These are the same kinds of scholarships we have on the scholarship all platform. And of course, if you are diligent and persistent, you might find you’re able to earn scholarships that really make a difference in your out of pocket cost.

And usually it’s some combination of all of these. So you don’t wanna try to apply for just one type of scholarship. You really want to broaden your interest and your, uh, your availability to get these kinds of scholar.

All right. So it’s important to note that there truly are scholarships for everyone, whatever your circumstances. If you’re a student who qualifies for need based federal financial aid, you’ll find you’re also eligible for many of the need based scholarships that are spec specifically interested in supporting students with financial need.

On the other hand, if you are a student who doesn’t qualify for need based aid, you’ll still be able to qualify for many scholarships that are based on academic merit. So if you have a strong GPA and or strong SAT or ACT scores, you’ll find plenty of scholarships that you can apply for some merit scholarships will be related to your major or related to your extracurriculars, like community service or particular hobby or interest you might have.

And there are also scholarships designed specifically for students who might not have as high of a GPA or might not have strong test scores. So if this is your situation, you still can get those scholarships. And finally, there are lots of scholarships that have nothing to do with your financial situation or your academic success.

These kinds of scholarships are often theme based asking you to write an essay about a particular topic, or even asking you to create and share a social media post about a specific theme. So no matter where you are, where you come from or a level of success you’ve achieved so far, there are plenty of scholarships that you can apply.

To find institutional scholarships. You’ll of course want to visit the college websites of the colleges that you’re applying for. And you’ll wanna look at their financial aid and scholarship information pages. Many colleges will have an online database of available scholarships that you can review and apply for online for local scholarships.

As I mentioned before, your high school career center or guidance counselors, a great resource, but you can also look online or call local organizations to inquire about these kinds of scholarships. One tip is to write down all of the businesses and organizations you’ve been involved with as a student, even including organizations you were involved with in elementary school, write them all down and then either look online or call the organizations one by one to see if they offer scholarships to local students.

So if you were involved in little league or if you were a scout contact, these organizations, if you ever volunteered for a nonprofit, or if you were active in your religious community or youth group, contact them as well. You can also ask your parents to find out if the company they work for offers scholarships to children of employees, many larger businesses do, and even small local businesses may do that.

Sometimes medical or dental practices even offer scholarships that will take time and persistence, but it can really pay off. And for private, external scholarships, you can search online or visit scholarship websites. Be aware though, that Googling for scholarships can be really overwhelming, tedious, and time consuming, leading many students to give up to SIM.

It can be really frustrating. And of course in seniors are super busy applying for colleges as well as working hard in school and preparing for graduation. It can be difficult to summer it up the energy and also search for scholarships. Let alone apply for them. The good news is that there are online options for sourcing these kinds of scholarships more easily, and that can help streamline your scholarship application process.

Our, the ScholarshipOwl platform is one option, but there are also others.

So the typical timeline, each scholarship has its own set of parameters and deadlines. So there really isn’t a typical scholarship timeline, and this can also make the process feel a little bit more complicated, but there’s some general things I can share. Students often ask me, when is the best time to apply for scholarships?

The best time to apply is now because scholarships are available year round, rather than at one specific time of year. I recommend aiming to apply for three scholarships per week, year round, starting in your junior year of high school all the way up until you’re done with your college education. And yeah, that’s a lot, but the great thing about applying for scholarships is that like most things you’ll get better with.

The more often you apply the better your submissions will be. And the greater your chances of winning will be as well. So if you’re a high school senior, and you’re applying to apply for scholarships after you submit all of your college applications, you’ll miss out on scholarships that are available right now and all the ones that are available before the end of, of December.

And that’s a lot of scholarships that could make a big difference in your out of pocket cost and a big difference in your ability to avoid student loans. So even though you might wanna wait until after your college applications are in, I would encourage you to try to fit in some time to apply for scholarships as well.

And of course, if you’re a current college student know that you can apply for scholarships year round as well, so that you continually have the opportunity to earn scholarships that can help you this year, even after your classes have started. And for those of you who aren’t sure if it’s worth applying year round, we currently have about $800,000 in scholarships in our platform right now.

So there’s plenty of money available and it’s a great time to apply in terms of timelines. Some scholarships have longer deadlines, meaning the application period might be a few months long or even. Other scholarships have shorter deadlines, perhaps 30 days or so. It’s important to check the deadline for each scholarship you’re applying for.

I encourage students to apply for scholarships with a closer deadline as this will help them avoid missing opportunities. And it will also ensure they’re applying for scholarships that will soon be selecting a winner, meaning the funds are gonna be distributed sooner. In general. Most scholarship providers don’t start reviewing applications in earnest until after the deadline has passed the number, the amount of time it will take to review the applications depends on the number of applications received and what type of scholarship it is.

Some scholarships are determined by random drawing and these scholarships are typically awarded shortly after the deadline closes random drawing scholarships. Usually don’t have any. Students simply submit an application and they don’t have to do anything else to qualify scholarships that require something more specific, like an essay, a video, social media post, et cetera.

Take more time since the provider has to review each application, these scholarships are often awarded about a month after the deadline, but it may take longer than that, depending on the number of applications received.

So keeping yourself organized and motivated is one of the greatest challenges of applying for scholarships. But what’s awesome is that you’ll discover that the more organized you are, the easier it is to stay motivated in terms of organization. I highly recommend that you create a spreadsheet or Google doc where you list all the scholarships you’re interested in and have applied to set up multiple columns, where you can list the scholarship name, provider, name, URL, to where you applied date.

You applied deadline for the scholarship and scholarship status. This is where you can indicate whether or not you won and also leave a column for notes. So you can jot things down about the scholarship. You may also wanna add columns indicating what type of scholarship it is, essay, social media, video, et cetera.

And if it’s an essay scholarship, you might wanna list the essay prompt as well as a link to your essay file. If you have it stored in Google docs, make sure to update your spreadsheet or docs so that you have an easy way to track your efforts, as well as your. If you do this, then each time you have a new essay scholarship to apply for, you can quickly ski your spreadsheet and find a scholarship you’ve already applied for, with a similar essay prompt.

This will really streamline your process because you can use that essay as a starting point, copying and saving it into a new doc and then edit is needed to ensure your new essay is closely lined with the new essay prompt. Other kinds of organizational strategies relate to time management. I always recommend that students establish a weekly scholarship application goal and that they do their best to meet that goal.

Every week. Once you’ve established your weekly goal estimate, the amount of time you think you’ll need to apply for that many scholarships per week, and then work that time into your schedule. As an example, when I work with students, I encourage them to aim for applying for three scholarships per week.

Like I just said, year round. That can be a combination of really easy one button apply scholarships along with creative or media scholarships. And of course, essay scholar. If there are certain weeks, you’re too busy to hit your goal, just do what you can and get back on schedule the following week. I know it sounds like a lot, but once you get into the routine of it, it’s actually not that hard.

In fact, the more scholarships you apply for the easier and faster will be for you to keep applying. And you’ll be more and more successful. Why? Because just like anything else, you get better with practice on the news and social media. We hear all the time about students. Who’ve been offered so many scholarships offering often totalling over a hundred thousand or more.

These students are successful because they’re organized, persistent and motivated. They apply for scholarships year round and know how to leverage essays. They’ve already written to apply for more scholarships that have similar essay props. They also, aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and apply for social media and video scholarships.

You can employ these exact same strategies and get similar results, but you do have to commit to taking the time and being proactive to be successful. Staying motivated is definitely a challenge. I recommend that students create some milestones for themselves and treat themselves to something fun when they hit each milestone.

For example, you can set milestones, uh, based on the number of scholarship applications you submit and celebrate when you hit those numbers. So after you’ve applied to 10 scholarships, reward yourself with something inexpensive, but fun like a day at the beach with friends or perhaps your family might make your favorite meal in honor of your efforts, you can create several of these kinds of mini awards to keep you going.

And of course, each time you find out you were selected for a scholarship, you’ll want to really celebrate. You can also join the scholarship all community on discord, it’s free and we’ve got over 10,000 students just like you, who are navigating their college and scholarship journey. They love to celebrate everyone’s good news.

We have a scholarship congrats channel and an acceptance congrats channel where students can share their achievements and other students in the community, cheer them on. We’ve also got other channels in there about all sorts of topics related to applying to college financial aid, scholarships, student life, career planning, and more so you can literally get motivated by networking with other students, all focused on their future, which of course is very motivating.

All right. So here’s my final advice when applying for scholarships, in addition to simply applying for many as you can, you also want to be sure that you maximize your chances of winning and that relates to your process and focus when applying first and foremost, always thoroughly read the information about the scholarship and also do some research about the provider.

That way you’ll have a better chance, better sense of what the provider might be looking for when they’re reviewing applications, always adhere to these scholarship guidelines. If there are min is a minimum or maximum word, count, stick to it. If it’s a social media scholarship and you’re asked to include a tag or hashtag be sure to include it.

And if you’re asked to copy and paste, do social media link into your application, make sure you paste the correct link and make sure your post and your social media profile are public. So the provider can actually view your post. These things may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many students take themselves out of the running to their own missteps, even before their application could be considered.

Focus on applying for scholarships, that you have a better chance of winning. For example, if you’re using our platform to apply for scholarships, you are able to see the number of other scholarship, all members who’ve already applied to each scholarship. So you can choose to apply for scholarships with fewer applicants to increase your odds.

You can also choose scholarships that ask you to submit something like an essay or video or social media post, rather than applying just for those super easy one button apply lottery, draw scholarships, rods of winning will be much lower if you focus on lottery draws. And as I mentioned earlier, when applying for essay scholarships, look for scholarships with essay prompts that are similar to essays, you’ve already written on the other hand.

Another great strategy is to apply for essay scholarships with a really unusual essay prompt. Most students will skip those scholarships because they don’t wanna have to expend extra effort. But if you’re willing, you’ll greatly increase your chances of winning simply because you’ll be among a small group of students who decided to take the time to.

And finally the most important advice is to not give up. It takes time, effort, and persistence to earn scholarships, but it will be worth it. Every scholarship you receive will reduce your reliance on student loans and will enable you to avoid a lot of debt after you graduate. And remember that providers will take time to review applications.

So it could be that you found out you want a scholarship a few months after you applied. So just because you haven’t heard back yet, doesn’t mean you didn’t win. All right. I think we are ready for our Q&A. Yes, we are. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, Ashly. Um, so that actually concludes the end of our presentation portion of the webinar.

I hope you found the information very useful. Um, just a reminder that you can download the slides from the links in the handouts tab. Now we’re gonna move on to our live Q&A. I’m gonna read through the questions that you have submitted. Thank you to everyone who’s already started submitting their questions.

I’ll then piece them one by one in the public chat so that you can see them and read them all loud. Before our panelist gives you an answer as it heads up, if your Q&A tab, isn’t letting you submit the questions. Just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page.

All right. So moving to our first question, um, in the common app, will there be a question that asks whether you are applying for need blind or need aware and maybe Ashly, if you wanna take that question? Sure. So again, remember that need blindness and need awareness are admissions policies that are already.

Established with each school. So you wouldn’t have to ever apply to something as need blind or need aware through the CSS. It’s more about doing your research on the front end and knowing whether the schools that you’re applying to are need blind schools or need aware schools. Um, additionally, with the CSS, again, even if, if you’re actually thinking, um, whether or not, um, you have to identify whether a school will meet a hundred percent of your need or not, again, that’s something that you would want to research ahead of time.

Um, before you’re identifying your schools, those are all things that are already set in stone and attached to the way that each school does admissions and financial aid for incoming students. Thank you. Um, what about for those who are adults going back to school? How does financial aid or scholarships?

um, I’ll just provide some general information and Ashly, if you wanna chime in, you can as well. Um, adults going back to school still need to submit the FAFSA. And, um, depending on if their school requires the CSS, you may also submit the CSS profile and you can apply for scholarships as well. Uh, the main thing is to make sure that when applying for scholarships, that you’re actually eligible for them.

So typically scholarships do not have any kind of age limitation, uh, that would be kind of age discrimination. So most schools aren’t gonna do that. And most scholarships are not gonna do that. Um, the number of scholarships available for grad students and for international students is not gonna be as high as the number for undergraduate students.

So if you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree, even if you’re an older student, you should really be kind of in the same running as everybody else in terms of the availability of scholarships. But if you’re going for grad school or inter, or if you’re an international student, you’re not gonna find quite as many, but there still are scholarships.

And also if you are a special student, um, or a, um, an adult returning to school, make sure you’re looking at what, uh, financial aid, um, opportunities are offered by your state, uh, depending on where you live. There are grants for people returning to school. Um, if you are going to a school within your state, so that’s also a place where you might be able to find some additional funding that isn’t available to not to traditional students.

Okay. Um, can you please clarify the IRS tax forms that will be needed to submit for FAFSA and CSS? Sure. So, and I’m sorry, I, I definitely, uh, glossed over that. So the wonderful thing about the FAFSA is that it gives you the ability to actually upload everything that you need directly from the IRS’s website.

So, um, once you’re in the application, there’s actually a section where it will ask, do you want us to upload all of the relevant tax information? You say, yes, it’ll take you into the IRS, you click everything and it will move the information over. But for the most part, they’re looking for information from your tax returns.

Uh, that is the, the main document, uh, that they’re looking for. The CSS will already have schools will already have information from the FAFSA. So the CSS is usually looking for more detailed information, um, and they usually tend to dig more into income, um, proof of income. Um, and so they’ll ask maybe for pay stubs and that type of thing.

I just wanna add one more thing. As far as the IRS documents, they are looking for tax documents from the student. If the student has ever filed taxes, as well as from the parents, if the student is considered dependent. So that’s just so you all know that yes, you’ll both have to, if you’ll both have to fill things out, you’ll both have to create FSA IDs.

Um, so make sure that parent and student are in lockstep with the FAFSA process. You can’t really submit it without the parent, if you are dependent. Mm-hmm okay. So this, uh, question reads, um, our Canadian students, um, do they have to submit the FAFSA or the CSS or both applications? So international students do not have to submit the FAFSA.

Um, international students can submit the CSS. If they are applying to a CSS partner school that has funding for international students. When you go to the website, you can actually find a listing of all CSS partner institutions, and it will actually identify whether or not they take the CSS for international students.

So when you’re building out your college list, definitely make sure that you’re looking at that column before adding anything, um, to that, that final college list. Okay. Um, is ScholarshipOwl platform only for USA domestic students or students from Canada/Mexico can also apply. Yeah. So ScholarshipOwl has scholarships for you no matter where you live.

Um, what happens is, and I won’t get into grand detail about this, but you’ll create a profile on our platform. And then that profile information helps us match you to scholarships. So if a scholarship is in your match list and you are residing outside the United States, you’ll only see scholarships in your match list that actually meet that, right?

Because if you’ve put in your address as being outside the United States, Then our, our system is set up so that it will exclude scholarships. You don’t qualify for, from your match list. So it’s actually really convenient. Now, again, international students won’t have as many matches on our platform as, uh, domestic students, but there are still lots of scholarships and probably many more than you might find on your own if you were just Googling for scholarships.

Um, and this is also true, by the way, if you are a DACA student, if you’re an undocumented student, um, there are scholarships for you as well. The ones that require you to be a us citizen, we have that question in the profile. So if you’re not a us citizen and you just leave that as that, you’re not then ones that require citizenship will not be in your match list.

So we actually make it pretty easy for. Nice. Thank you. Thank you. Just a reminder to our participants. Um, please an ask your questions in the public Q&A tab so that we can make sure that we get to them. Our next question is, uh, oh. Oh, so this question reads, what if you have leftover money from a combination of scholarships, would that transfer to next year or be.

All right. That’s a great question. So, um, it depends on how the scholarship funds were sent to you, right? So in some cases, the scholarship money is sent directly to the, the educational institution where you went to school. And typically, you know, the college would then deduct whatever housing or room, uh, tuition and fees and things that you owe to the school out of that.

And then if there’s any money left over, they will refund it to you after they deduct that. So they don’t usually hang onto the money for a future year. They’ll usually refund it to you and then you can hang onto it for future year. And then of course, if the provider gives the money directly to you, then you can put it in your savings account.

You can use it if that year you can use it for future years. However you wanna do that. A couple details that I, that I wanna add to that one. You do get a direct paid scholarship. You still want to report that to the financial aid office at your institution so that they can list it as a scholarship. So you don’t have to immediately claim it as income.

So you want that to show that scholarship, to show up on the tax document that shows all of the financial aid scholarships that you’ve received. Um, the other thing is that depending on where your scholarships came from, they might have restrictions on how those funds are used. So some of them might have restrictions saying that if there is no outstanding balance, then please return funds to, um, to the donor or the organization.

They might also have tuition restrict restrictions saying that these funds are only for tuition and. So you can’t use it toward room and board. Those are all things that you’ll know up front when you’re applying to, for scholarships, they won’t blindside you with that. But as you’re building that list, that’s something that you’ll wanna keep in mind.

And then the other thing is that the way that financial aid works in colleges, it’s financial aid year by financial aid year, you can’t carry things over year to year at all, because you’re gonna have one financial aid year. That’s gonna begin and it’s gonna end and they’re gonna close it out. Then you’re gonna have to submit another FASA.

And then that will start the next financial aid year. So, um, as you’re making your kind of financial plan, don’t ever expect that, oh, I can just give them all of my money up front for my entire education and just relax. You are going to have to manage that money year to year. Definitely for sure. Okay. So the next question is, uh, what is the difference between a full scholarship and paid tuition?

Uh, do you wanna take that one, Ashly? Yeah. So it’s going back to the cost of attendance. Also, first of all, people are kind of loosey goosey with those terms. Mm-hmm um, so if someone says, oh, I have a full scholarship, they could mean that it’s covering tuition and fees. They don’t have to pay their tuition and fees out of pocket.

Other students saying, oh yeah, I have a full scholarship. Or I got a full ride that could be covering the entire cost of attendance. So like D1 athletics scholarships, they just cover everything all the way up to the cost of attendance. So there, in terms of how they’re used out in the world, you probably need to ask for additional clarification on what people mean, because it could mean any of those things.

Um, but usually. They’re synonymous, unless someone says I have a fully paid, um, scholarship that covers everything that covers the total cost of attendance.

Thank you, Ashly. And this question might be a little similar. Um, is there a difference between financial aid and scholarships? Are they the same? I love that question. Go ahead. Go for it. financial aid is an umbrella term, uh, that encompasses everything that you would use to pay the cost of attendance at your given school.

So financial aid is inclusive of loans. It’s inclusive of scholarships. It’s inclusive of, um, institutional funding, federal funding, external funding, all of the funding that we went through, all of that falls under the financial aid umbrella. So when you’re talking about financial aid, you have to be really specific about when you’re asking questions, you have to be really specific about, are you asking about loans?

Are you asking about institutional awards, external scholarships? Um, so there really isn’t a difference it’s that financial aid is the umbrella for all of the other things that we discussed today. Thank you, Ashly. Uh, next question reads, are there any trusted scholarship websites to go to? I love how the question is.

Are there any, and I, and I understand why that’s the question, right? Yeah. You know, um, fast web is one that a lot of students use and it’s often recommended by the federal government. I think that scholarship always trusted. Um, you know, there are other ones there’s bold. Um, a lot of people use that. So, you know, as far as.

you know, I don’t feel comfortable because this is the industry that I’m in commenting on trustworthiness. I’m gonna let Ashly handle that. um, yeah, that’s a, that it’s a bit relative to what, how you identify trustworthy first of all. But the way that I talk about these different scholarship platforms, um, it’s kind of like sometimes you get the same advice when you’re, uh, studying for the SAT or ACT.

You don’t wanna, you don’t always need to rely on one prep manual, um, because there might be certain functions in another prep manual, or certain approaches in another prep manual that work for you here, and you can pull the benefits from each of them. So it’s totally okay to diversify the different platforms that you’re using.

Um, and once you’re in there, I mean, trust your gut. A lot of times, if you see scholarships or. Scholarship, uh, platforms. Like if they ask you for money, that’s a no go. Right? Um, if they ask you for really, really personal information before they give you access to anything, those are the things that you wanna look at, um, and double check to see whether or not, um, you feel good about it.

And then also look for other ones that don’t have those things.

Okay. Next question is, can you still effectively apply for scholarships if you are still undecided on your major or what school you plan on attending? Absolutely. You know, I, I kind of talked about this a little bit earlier. That there are scholarships. So many of them are based on a theme that are not necessarily specifically related to your major.

Um, I find a lot of students will say to me, you know, how can I find a scholarship related to this field, cuz this is what I wanna study or how can I find scholarships related to being a child of the military? Cuz my, my parent was in the military or um, you know, I’m the child of somebody that had a, a health condition.

How do I find that? So the first thing I wanna say is whatever your situation, whatever you’re looking for, it’s out there. Um, Google is certainly a great way to search for very specific things. Um, and of course other scholarship websites as well. But, um, it’s a really important that you broaden what you’re looking.

Um, you don’t have to look for scholarships that are related to the thing you have in your head that you think you have to look for. Because if you only look for that, you’re gonna miss out on so many other scholarships that you are qualified for. Um, and answer specifically to the question, if you’re undeclared, or if you don’t know what school you’re gonna go to, there are so many scholarships you can apply for.

So don’t let that stop you. Um, and then once you know, where you’re applying to, you can then apply for all of the scholarships offered by those institutions, as well as the other local scholarships and the private external scholarships. Mm-hmm . And so just kind of adding onto that question. Um, Jen, are there scholarships for students with disabilities?

yes, there are, um, you know, um, we have them in our platform all the time. They, you know, like anything else, they have expiration dates, right? So you might see something about epilepsy and then a month later it’s expired and now there’s something about diabetes or whatever. So, you know, if you are, again, if you are looking for very specific, narrow, focused kinds of things, like for disabilities or health conditions, definitely going on Google is a great place to go because you’ll find, for example, blog posts that it’ll say 30 scholarships for people with diabetes, just as an example.

So, um, definitely use Google as a great resource for looking for very narrow mind, narrow, narrowly defined scholarships. Okay. We’re gonna take just a quick pause, um, so that I can share with you all about CollegeAdvisor. So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admission process can be.

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Discuss how they line up with your college list and outline tools that you’ll need to become a competitive applicant. And then we’ll also support you with looking up scholarships and financial aid. So we currently have a back to school sale, so you can now save 20% on all college packages now through August 31st.

So again, here’s the QR code and we will have it on the next screen as we continue our questions and answers. So next question we have is if my scholarships cover all of my students’ contributions, so all my contributions and I have some left, can the leftover be used to cover my parents’ contributions amount?

If the parents don’t support me financially, go ahead, Ashly um, so the way that your financially aid package will be broken out, will. Family contribution. Um, so your out of pocket will just say family contribution. Um, if you and your family have an understanding that, okay, mom, dad, I’m gonna pay this much toward it and you’ll pay this much toward it.

Um, then any scholarships that you get are going to usually, like Jen said, if it’s being sent to the school, the, the, the school’s gonna just apply it to any outstanding balance you have, they won’t be able to say, you know, let’s break it up this way or that way. Um, so any additional funding that you have left over would mean that you’ve already covered your balance.

Um, and then it would be up to you and your family to decide if you had a refund, how you will split that refund, or if you’ll split that refund. Thank you. Okay. So our next question reads. what is the best way to tell if a scholarship is worth applying for all right. Um, what I would say is, first of all, look at, is it a scholarship that is a lottery draw where you just it’s very quick, it takes moments to apply for or where you have to actually do something, right?

So those lottery draw scholarships. They’re not necessarily worth your time and effort, but usually they’re really fast. It usually takes just a moment to apply. So you can get those done and out of the way, but know that your odds are not gonna be very high. Um, but if you are looking at scholarships that are, you know, things that have a closer deadline where, you know, they’re gonna be making a decision soon where the money’s gonna come sooner, if they have a more narrow eligibility criteria.

And if you qualify for that eligibility, Um, those, you know, are good factors to consider. And then also looking at what the theme of the scholarship is. Um, if it’s an essay, what the topic is, is it something you feel you can write to? Is it something you’re passionate about? Something that sparks you? Um, if it’s, you know, if you’re somebody who doesn’t like to write, look for scholarships that asks you to do a video, or that asks you to do a social post so that you can show your personality and, um, you know, be motivated and excited and, and smiling on camera and all of that.

So, you know, you wanna find something that fits your personality fits your style, and that also you have a better chance of winning hope that helps. Yes, it does. Um, this question reads, do you know why the tuition for international students is four times the in-state. So actually so a couple of things, if you’re looking at state schools, um, tuition for anyone who is an out-of-state resident is going to be an out-of-state much less out of country.

Resident is going to be significantly higher because state schools basically provide discounts, uh, to instate students to encourage them to, uh, do their schooling instate. Um, that is the way that it is, um, that is the benefit of going to an instate school. Uh, if you’re a domestic PR and to be completely transparent, one of the really difficult things about being an international student is that a lot of the discounts and additional assistance that’s available for domestic students isn’t necessarily available to you.

That’s why external scholarships are so important for ex for international students, because. A lot of the built in things that we have here. Um, you’re not gonna be eligible for the other reason why it seems like international students have to pay so much more money is because of the requirements of your F1 visa, because you have to get a student visa in order to study in the United States.

Um, you have to also show that you have access to liquid funds that can cover the entire cost of attendance for an academic year. Um, so that is something that domestic students don’t have to do because they have, again, all of these other support programs. So again, I can’t stress enough. Um, external scholarships are really important for international students.

Um, it’s totally possible to get good funding and also merit awards. Um, I encourage you to look for schools as you’re building your college list. That really value their international student community. Um, because those schools tend to find ways to kind of soften the blow, um, of the cost of attendance for international students, whether it’s through discounted housing, um, or just really, really robust, um, institutional funding for international students.

Some schools will also offer international students, institutional loans. Um, if, if that’s something that you would be open to. Yeah, I just want to add one thing. You know, I find that students are that international students are often asking me, how can they get a full ride to go to college, to study in the United States?

And as much as I would love to say that I know of, you know, lots of opportunities for full ride scholarships, it’s extremely rare. It’s rare for domestic students to get a full ride scholarship. So it’s gonna be even more rare for international students. And so I always try to put that out there to dispel any myths, because I think sometimes international students are told, oh, you can go to college for free in the United States.

And that’s pretty, pretty rare to be able to do that. Okay. Um, are there any fee waivers for college applications? Yes, absolutely. Um, you can usually. Um, contact the admissions office to request a fee waiver. Some admissions offices are, will give them on request. Um, some of them might ask you to write something or submit some sort of documentation, um, identifying your need.

Um, also college fairs, uh, when you see somebody at a table, um, either that’s just kind of tabling at your high school, or if you go to college fairs, usually those recruiters are traveling with fee waiver cards, uh, because they want you to apply. So, um, make sure that if there’s a school you’re really interested in that you’re introducing yourself to that rep that you’re telling them that you’re interested.

And that’s usually when the fee waiver gets slid across the table. That’s great information. I wish I had that. Um, when I was applying to colleges, um, next question agrees. What is your advice for finding scholarships that pay the student directly so that you can use this money for expenses like campus housing, travel business, et higher, et cetera.

Yeah. So, you know, when you’re looking at scholarships, it’ll often tell you how the money is gonna be paid out. Not always, but sometimes it will. Um, if you do happen to be using the scholarship all platform, if we have that information, we list it with each scholarship. So that you’ll know if it pays the student or if it pays the college.

But you know, in many of ours it also is not stated because we don’t have that information either. Um, but that’s what I would say is just do a little bit of research and see what you can find out and also know that the only scholarships that will not, that cannot be, um, Allocated toward housing room and board, that type of thing are scholarships that identify themselves as tuition restricted.

Um, if they don’t identify as tuition restricted, then basically the funds are going to go directly to the school. And they’re just gonna put it toward your entire outstanding balance, which would then cover a lot of the things that you listed in that question. Yeah. And also a lot of the tuition restricted scholarships are the ones coming directly from the institutions.

So you don’t typically see that as much for an external scholarship, but you do see it for institutional scholarships. MBA. Yes. Okay, our next question, Reese, do scholarships expire. How long does it last? How will they give it to you? So, um, each scholarship will say what their deadline is. And so when the deadline passes, if you haven’t applied, you can consider that at least for you an expired scholarship, right?

Um, some of these providers offer these same scholarships multiple times per year, or maybe once a year. Sometimes it might be a scholarship that comes up only once and then they don’t offer it again. So, um, you know, if you’ve missed a scholarship that already expired and you’re interested, you can check to see if they have offered it before.

Um, you might be able to get on an email list to where you can be notified the next time it opens, or you can at least look at when the, the current one that expired when it opened and, you know, make a note to yourself and then check for the following year at around that same time. Awesome. Okay. Well that is.

actually going to conclude our webinar for this evening. Thank you, Jennifer. And Ashly, is there any last point of advice you wanna, um, provide for our attendees before we close out? Um, I just wanna say the most important thing that you can do for yourself is to apply for scholarships. Don’t give up and, uh, and I’m surprised this didn’t come up today, but make sure you understand the student loan forgiveness.

Uh, that was just announced yesterday. Yeah. Um, and kind of going off that the best thing that you can do for yourself in college is to make sure that you’re not being ruled by your financial circumstances and scholarships are a great way to help you operate from a place of choice so that you can experience everything that college has to offer.

Um, so know that not only do scholarships give you that financial freedom, they really are gonna give you that freedom to explore all of your interests and do everything and not be cornered in by financial decisions. great. Great advice. This was an amazing webinar. I learned a lot this evening. Um, thank you all to everyone who participated and thank you for asking your questions.

Just a heads up that every week we are actually multiple of the times during the week we are offering webinars. Um, so we do have a few more webinars that are coming up for this month. So definitely check us out on and everyone have a great evening. Thank you again, Ashly and Jennifer.

Thank you. Bye.