By Diana Smith

One of the largest factors in considering a college is the cost. The cost was most definitely a critical factor in where I chose to attend college. Looking back, senior year in high school was tough with continuous assignments and tests, applying for college, and juggling high school and college activities. With all of that going on, money for college was still in the forefront of my mind all throughout senior year.

My biggest advice is to apply for as many scholarships as humanly possible! Scholarships are similar to grants in the way that you don’t have to pay them back. The more time you spend on your scholarship search and application process, the more money you’ll potentially get, and the less money you’ll have to scramble to find or borrow in loans later on.

There are two different types of scholarships you should be aware of:

  1. The first is private scholarships. Private scholarships can be awarded to you for anything from academic merit, volunteering and community service, leadership, special talents and abilities, to family heritage and background. They’re usually provided by a third party; like local community organizations, religious organizations, local businesses, parents’ employers, and more. Search far and wide in your community.
  2. The second is institutional scholarships – or scholarships from your college. Most colleges  in Utah will provide you with an academic scholarship based on your cumulative grade point average and ACT score. They also offer scholarships for things like campus activities and involvement, athletics, school clubs, and more. Check with your college’s financial aid or scholarship office to see what they can offer you.

Some pro scholarship tips (added bonus!):

First and foremost, check with your high school to see if they have any scholarships specific to your situation either academically, financially, athletically, etc. Try searching for local scholarships offered by local companies and/or companies specific to Utah.

A tip from my experience: I applied for the Utah PTA (Parent Teacher Association) Scholarship because I had a better chance of being awarded it over scholarships that thousands of students had also applied for. A helpful tip for many students is to seek out scholarships posted on your college’s website (usually in the Financial Aid or Scholarships section of their site). You’ll have a better chance of winning a scholarship if it has a smaller applicant pool (like only students at your college can apply) than the giant national/private scholarships.

Lastly – Before you apply for any scholarships, get organized. Keep a log of scholarship deadlines and requirements for each scholarship; this will help you so that you don’t miss any. Use a spreadsheet, an app on your phone, or a binder of some sort to keep track of all of these things in a location that is convenient and easy to access – like cloud paying for college, scholarshipsstorage for example (Dropbox, Google Sheets or Google Docs, One Note, etc.).

Diana is an intern with UHEAA outreach. She graduated Wasatch High School last May and received her associate degree from Dixie State University. She remained undecided in her major for a while until she realized she wanted to major in international studies and transferred to the University of Utah where she is working on two bachelor degrees. If you have questions about her blog or about anything related to preparing and paying for college, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat @dianamsmith77