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Strategies for Scoring College Scholarship Money

Ready to score some scholarship money to help off-set the cost of your education? With all of the opportunities available, university scholarships are not out of reach if you know where to find them and how to qualify for them. Of course, you'll also have to meet the application deadlines!

College scholarships can be awarded to you by your college or university, through a private organization, from a corporate sponsor, or even from a generous benefactor. And, awards can be based on anything from your grades and essay-writing skills, to your special talents, ethnicity, and parents' affiliations. In other words, it's your job to ask around and be on the lookout for any college scholarships for which you may qualify.

Your search should begin by sitting down with your school's counselor since he or she may have knowledge of awards for which you'd be eligible. You should also ask your parents to inquire about scholarships at work, since many corporations provide scholarship money for the children of their employees. In addition, if you know which schools you'll be applying to, surfing their Web sites for institutional awards available is a smart move. These scholarships are often based on your high school GPA and how you perform on a scholarship test or interview. Lastly, there are many free online scholarship databases and guidebooks that help you match your strengths with awards. Take advantage of all of these resources to find the scholarship money you need.

Once you find potential university scholarships, you should find a way to organize what needs to be done for each -- write down deadlines and see if any additional materials, like recommendations or transcripts, are required. Next up? Set yourself apart from the college scholarship pack.

For starters, it's important to be honest about your grades, and follow basic instructions (like what needs to be submitted and when) carefully. Not doing so will disqualify you quickly. It's also a good idea from the get-go to apply for awards in which you meet the basic requirements. If you have a 2.7 GPA and the minimum is 3.0, focus your time and effort on an opportunity that suits you.

Once you've covered the basics of college scholarships, you'll need to do something to help you stand out from your competition. Use creativity, spell everything correctly, submit a clean, neat application, and follow-up with a thank-you note. Little touches like these can make a huge difference.