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Meet the Expert

Expert
RON KNESS

Ron served 36 years in the military. His last assignment was the 34th Infantry (Red Bull) Division Command Sergeant Major/E-9. He was also Supervisor of Military Personnel Services, which included the Education Benefits Section, and now uses this vast knowledge as our resident military expert on GI Bills, scholarships, and other military-related financial aid for higher education.

Introduction

As a veteran preparing for graduate school, you’ve no doubt researched your best degree options and schools, what you will need for your admission applications, and how you plan to pay for school. For many military veterans, the GI Bill is the first option to help alleviate the cost of school. While it’s an excellent source of aid for veterans, it may be limited and not fully cover all education expenses such as books and fees.

In this guide, you’ll find funding tips you can use in addition to, or in place of, the GI Bill. Many of the sources listed below are tailored to veterans, their spouses or family members looking for alternative options to pay for school. You will also find a checklist for applying for scholarships and numerous resources for finding additional aid opportunities.

Grad School Without Debt

What many veterans (and spouses and dependents if benefits were transferred to them while serving) do not know is that their GI Bill education benefit can be used in conjunction with other forms of financial aid.

In addition to the GI Bill, there are three basic types of education funding veterans are not required to pay back:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Fellowships

There are hundreds of scholarship sources available to veterans and their families. From the federal and state governments, to private companies, to veteran organizations and even schools themselves, everyone wants to help veterans and their families succeed in their pursuit toward a better education.

When selecting scholarships, ensure the money can be used for graduate work. Many scholarships and grants are designated for undergraduate work only. It is usually stated in the scholarship information or on the application how and when the scholarship money must be used.

Scholarships for Military Veterans

There are two different types of scholarships in regard to the Post 9/11 GI Bill: those that are applied directly towards tuition and those that can be used for anything.

If using direct tuition scholarships, the award money is applied before the VA pays anything towards the difference. In some cases, all tuition could be paid through scholarships leaving nothing left for the VA to pay. This would leave veterans using the New GI Bill a monthly housing allowance and book stipend.

For scholarship awards that can be used for anything, the VA would pay toward tuition as prescribed by law, in addition to paying the housing allowance and book stipend. It is important to note entitlement use is the same in both cases — 30 days of entitlement use per full month of school — however, the second student is getting more “bang for their buck” from their GI Bill than the first.

Many private companies and veteran service organizations award scholarships annually that help veterans go back to school. One such scholarship is the AMVET Scholarship Program. Eligible veterans can get up to $1,000 annually up to four years.

Google SVA Scholarship

Candidate must be an Active Duty or veteran student currently enrolled in or accepted to a college degree program in computer science, computer engineering or closely-related subject.

Amount $10,000
Application Deadline November 2

Anne Gannett Award for Veterans

For veterans who are former music students who interrupted their education to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and wish to resume music study in pursuit of a music career.

Amount $2,000
Application Deadline May 1

Army Nurse Corps Association (ANCA) Scholarship

Offered to those currently serving or honorably discharged veterans of a U.S. Army component (Army, National Guard or Reserve) who is currently enrolled in a nursing or nurse anesthesia undergraduate or graduate program. Must not be currently receiving from a U.S. Army component (GI Bill benefits or ROTC scholarship.)

Amount $3,000
Application Deadline March 21

Friedl Richardson Scholarship for Veterans Pursuing a Career in Law

Candidate must be a U.S. citizen, show proof of military service and be enrolled in an accredited law degree program.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline August 1

VFW Auxiliary Continuing Education Scholarship

Applicant must be a VFW Auxiliary member for a period of at least one year immediately prior to application. Financial need is considered in making this award.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline February 1

Veterans United Foundation Scholarship

Candidate must be Active Duty member or veteran currently pursuing a postsecondary degree, or planning to in the upcoming year.

Amount $2,000
Application Deadline April 30; October 31

Sports Clips Help a Hero Scholarship

Candidate must be: retired, honorably discharged, or Active Duty military, or member of the National Guard or reserve; separated with or currently hold an E-5 or below rank; and demonstrate financial need.

Amount Up to $5,000
Application Deadline April 30; November 15

Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program

Open to females currently serving or who have served honorably in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard, and their children.

Amount Up to $2,500
Application Deadline January 15

Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program

For veterans who have served at least one year of Active Duty or served in a foreign country at the time of hostilities regardless of length of duty. Must be enrolled in an Illinois public educational institution. Pays eligible tuition and fee costs. Must be Illinois resident both at time of entering service and when applying for program.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline Ongoing

Woman Marines Association (WMA) Scholarships

The WMA sponsors several scholarships for candidates who are currently serving, or have served, in the United States Marine Corps. Requires an essay demonstrating the applicant’s community service and career goals. Must also be nominated by a WMA member.

Amount $1,500 to $3,000
Application Deadline February 28

Donaldson D. Frizzell Scholarship

Military candidates must be active, guard, reserve and retired members of the U.S. uniformed services. Selections are based on merit, strength of applicant’s recommendations and applicant’s essay.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline March 31

SVA-NBC Universal Scholarship

Open to veterans pursuing a degree at an accredited U.S. college or university. Applicants must submit an essay. Sponsored by Comcast/NBC Universal and the Student Veterans of America.

Amount $12,000
Application Deadline November 2

New Mexico Vietnam Veteran’s Scholarship

Candidate must be a Vietnam Veteran and a New Mexico resident both at the time of entering military service and currently for the previous ten years. Must attend a New Mexico postsecondary school.

Amount Tuition, fees and books
Application Deadline Varies by school

New York State Veterans Tuition Awards

Open to veterans who served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf or in other hostilities. Must be a New York State resident enrolled in a New York State institution.

Amount Varies by tuition amount up to $6,370
Application Deadline June 30

Col. Edwin L. Overholt, M.D. Family Scholarship for Wisconsin Veterans

Applicant must be a Wisconsin resident, an Armed Forces veteran, and enrolled full-time or accepted into a healthcare field. Financial need is a considering factor.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline March 1

Georgia’s HERO Scholarship Program

Open to active members of the Georgia National Guard who have deployed overseas. Must be a Georgia resident for 12 months immediately prior to first day of school and attend a Georgia postsecondary institution.

Amount Up to $2,000/year; $8,000 total
Application Deadline Ongoing

Captain Sean P. Grimes Physician Assistant Educational Scholarship Award

Graduate applicants must be Active Duty, veteran or retiree of the Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard or Reserve. Must be used toward education for physician’s assistant. Financial need is a consideration.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline February 1

Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Scholarships

Military member applicant must be current member of the AAAA. Graduate students must submit a short essay detailing life experiences, goals and work history. This is a merit-based award.

Amount $1,000 to $4,000 annually
Application Deadline May 1

PNC-SVA “Serving with Integrity” Scholarship

Sponsored by the Student Veterans of America and PNC Bank. Applicants must be honorably discharged from Active Duty military service or currently serving in Guard or Reserve.

Amount $10,000
Application Deadline November 2

AMVETS National Scholarship Program

For

Amount
Application Deadline

Donald P. Weber Veterans Memorial Scholarship

Open to veterans who are Wisconsin residents attending a University of Wisconsin school. Financial need is a considering factor in this award.

Amount $1,000/ year for a maximum of 4 years
Application Deadline April 15

506th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association Scholarships

Military applicant must have served with the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment. Awards made on the basis of the applicant’s overall academic excellence, quality of chosen postsecondary institution and financial need.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline April 30

Hope for Kansas Heroes Endowment Scholarship

Applicant must be a U.S. citizen and resident of Kansas. Open to Active Duty military and veterans, and members of their families. Financial need is considered for this award. Sponsored by the Epsilon Sigma Alpha Foundation.

Amount $500
Application Deadline February 1

Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Member Scholarships

The FRA offers a number of scholarships for association members. In addition to FRA membership, applicants must be affiliated with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps or U.S. Coast Guard. Some of these scholarships give preference to those applying for funding of a post-graduate program.

Amount $5,000
Application Deadline April 15

Honorably Discharged, Separated or Retired Veterans Who Move to Texas Tuition Waiver Program

Program provides waiver of difference between resident and non-resident tuition at a Texas public college or university for veterans moving to Texas.

Amount Varies. Partial tuition waiver
Application Deadline Ongoing

Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Non-Member Scholarships

Offered to U.S. Navy, Marine and Coast Guard personnel, past and present. FRA membership is not required.

Amount $3,000 to $5,000
Application Deadline April 15

Col. Mike Randerson Scholarship

A successful applicant must be honorably discharged from military service and attending Columbia College of Missouri.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline February 28

Col. Charles E. McGee Scholarship

Candidate must be a degree-seeking student at Columbia College of Missouri who has is an honorably discharged veteran.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline February 28

Disney-SVA Scholarship

Candidate must be a student veteran pursuing a degree in a STEM subject program at an accredited college or university and maintaining a 3.0 GPA.

Amount $10,000
Application Deadline November 2

Darlene Hooley for Oregon Veterans Scholarship

Candidate must have served in the military during the Global War on Terrorism. Must be a current Oregon resident attending an Oregon educational program.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline March 1

Imagine America Foundation Military Award Program

To be eligible, candidate must be Active Duty, reservist, or honorably discharged or retired from the military and in financial need. Limited to those enrolled in a designated participating colleges.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline December 31

Tillman Military Scholars Program

Available to Active Duty military personnel and to veterans of all branches of the U.S. Military, including the Reserve and National Guard. Must pursue degree on a full-time basis.

Amount $1,500 to $23,000
Application Deadline March 3

eLearners.com Military Scholarship

Open to Active Duty military and veterans of all branches of the U.S. military.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline September 2

AFCEA STEM Majors Scholarships for Graduates

Available to Active Duty military and veterans, including Reservists and National Guard, of the Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom operations. Must major in STEM subject (including but not limited to) cybersecurity, intelligence and homeland security.

Amount $2,500
Application Deadline May 1

Carolyn Tolley, ASI Health Services HSE Scholarship

Sponsored by the American Society of Safety Engineers and the Texas Safety Foundation. Must be a resident of Texas, a student ASSE member, and attending a Texas college or university studying occupational safety and health. Open to everyone, but preference given to veterans.

Amount $2,000
Application Deadline June 30

AT&T Military Veterans’ Scholarships

Open to veterans of all branches of the U.S. military. Employment by AT&T is not a requirement.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline July 31

Special scholarships are available to Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom veterans who were disabled as a result of combat service so they can either go back to school or attain a new skill. One such scholarship is the AFCEA Education Foundation’s Disabled War Veterans Scholarship. With contributions from the Microsoft Corporation, they award $2,500 that can be used at any four-year accredited college including online or distance learning.

American Airlines Veteran’s Initiative Scholarship

Military veterans who are pursuing aviation or aeronautical education or training are eligible. Personal factors considered include achievements, teamwork, leadership skills, motivation, and community service involvement.

Amount $5,000
Application Deadline November 16

Colorado Technical University Wounded Warrior Scholarship

Open to U.S Armed Forces (including National Guard and Reserve) Active Duty members or veterans currently receiving medical treatment for injuries (over 30 percent) suffered in the line of duty.

Amount Full tuition, approx. $15,000 annually
Application Deadline September 15

New York State Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute – MERIT Scholarship

Available to members of the U.S. Armed Forces at any time on or after August 2, 1990 and who became severely and permanently disabled as a result of injury or illness suffered or incurred in combat or during training for combat. Must be New York State resident attending a postsecondary institution in New York State. Also open to spouses, children, and other financial dependents.

Amount Up to $22,487
Application Deadline June 30

Edward T. and Mary A. Conroy Memorial & Jean. B. Cryor Memorial Scholarship Program

Open to veterans who: were POW’s during the Vietnam Conflict or suffered a 25 percent or greater permanent disability as a result of military service and are no longer eligible for federal veterans’ educational benefits. Must be a Maryland resident at the time of application.

Amount Varies, no to exceed costs of tuition and mandatory fees
Application Deadline July 15

The United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Scholarship

Disabled veteran applicant must additionally be a current Japanese American Veterans Association member or a direct descendant of Nisei military service member of World War II.

Amount $5,000
Application Deadline May 15

URS Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund for Graduate Students

For use at the University of Maryland-University College. Preference is given to veterans pursuing degrees in cybersecurity, information technology and information management. Financial need is a factor.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline July 15

Colorado Technical University Wounded Warrior Scholarship

Available to spouses of Active Duty or veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserve, who are currently receiving medical treatment for injuries (over 30 percent) suffered in the line of duty. Scholarship for Colorado Technical University campus or online program only.

Amount Full tuition, approx. $15,000 annually
Application Deadline September 15

Kenneth L. Varns and Harvey D. Varns Memorial Endowment

Sponsored by the Epsilon Sigma Alpha Foundation. Eligible candidates must have a family member who was a fallen or wounded member of the military.

Amount $500
Application Deadline September 15

Tillman Military Scholars Program

Open to current (and surviving) spouses of Active Duty military and veterans from all branches of the U.S. Military, including the Reserve and National Guard. Must be pursuing his or her degree full-time.

Amount $1,500 to $23,000
Application Deadline March 3

Virginia Military Survivors & Dependents Education Program

Open to spouses and children of military veteran killed or disabled, missing in action (MIA), or taken prisoner during time of service. Service member must currently be a resident of Virginia, or in the case of deceased military member, surviving spouse must meet Virginia residency requirement. Student must be enrolled in Virginia educational program.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline Ongoing

Katherine F. Gruber Scholarship

Open to dependent children, grandchildren and spouses of a blinded veteran or an Active Duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Sponsored by the Blind Veterans Association.

Amount $2,000
Application Deadline April 17

Georgia’s HERO Scholarship Program

Open to children of Georgia National Guard member killed or disabled during combat, and spouses of member killed during combat. Must be a resident of Georgia and attending a Georgia postsecondary institution.

Amount Up to $2,000 per year; $8,000 total
Application Deadline Ongoing

Folds of Honor Immediate Use Scholarship

Open to spouses and dependent children currently attending or recently accepted to an accredited post-secondary degree program. Amount of award based on the student’s reported unmet need for educational expenses for the academic year.

Amount $500 to $5,000
Application Deadline March 31

Folds of Honor Future Use Scholarship

Available to children, birth through 11th grade, pending standard eligibility requirements have been met and required documentation provided.

Amount $500 to $5,000
Application Deadline March 31

AT&T Fallen Heroes Scholarship

Offered to the children, stepchildren and spouses of U.S. military service members who were killed in action. Applicants must provide form DD-1300 for the fallen service member.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline July 31

When the veterans served, so did the spouse in so many ways. And in respect for their support of their veteran, there are scholarship available to them. One such scholarship is Leadership Through Action – Tillman Military Scholars program. This scholarship from the Pat Tillman Foundation enables spouses to start, finish or further their education.

If either parent is a veteran, dependent children have some scholarships to them that non-veteran dependents can’t use. AMVETS National Scholarship Program can be used by dependent children to attend grad school. This is somewhat unique as many dependent scholarships are designated for undergraduate work.

Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Non-Member Scholarships

These scholarships are open to U.S. Navy, Marine and Coast Guard personnel and veterans, as well as their spouses, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Does not require FRA membership.

Amount $3,000 and $5,000
Application Deadline April 15

Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Member Scholarships

These FRA-sponsored scholarships are open to spouses, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of current FRA members in good standing. FRA membership requires an affiliation with the U.S. Navy, Marines or Coast Guard. A number of these awards give preference to post-graduate students.

Amount $5,000
Application Deadline April 15

506th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association Scholarships

Family member applicants must be a child, grandchild, sibling or spouse of a veteran who served with the 506th Airborne. Factors considered include the applicant’s overall academic excellence, financial need and quality of the chosen postsecondary institution.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline April 30

70th Infantry Division Association Scholarships

Available to spouses and children of those who are current Active Duty or veterans of the 70th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. Applicants must be under 25 years of age.

Amount $500
Application Deadline August 30

Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Scholarships

Must be a current member of the AAAA or the spouse, child, grandchild or unmarried sibling of a current or deceased AAAA member. Must be accepted at an accredited postsecondary institution at the time of application.

Amount $1,000 to $4,000 annually
Application Deadline May 1

Donaldson D. Frizzell Scholarship

Open to members of the U.S. uniformed services (current, retired, guard or reserve) and their spouses and children. Factors considered are applicant’s merit, quality of essay and strength of recommendations.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline March 31

Woman Marines Association (WMA) Scholarships

Candidate must be a direct descendant, sibling or descendant of a sibling (by blood or legal adoption), of a Marine currently on Active Duty or has served honorably in the Marine Corps, Regular or Reserve.

Amount $1,500 to $3,000
Application Deadline February 28

Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship

This program provides Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to the children and surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty while on active duty after September 10, 2001. Eligible applicants may receive up to 36 months of benefits at the 100 percent level.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline Ongoing

Veterans United Foundation Scholarship

Open to spouses and children of Active Duty member, veteran or fallen soldier.

Amount $2,000
Application Deadline April 30 and October 31

Indiana Child of Purple Heart Recipient or Wounded Veteran or Deceased or Disabled Veteran

Applicant must be child of Indiana veteran, must be resident of Indiana and studying at an Indiana college or university.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline Ongoing

American Legion Auxiliary Department of Wisconsin Child Welfare Scholarships

Applicant must be spouse or widow, child, grandchild, great-grandchild, step-child, step grandchild or step great-grandchild of a Wisconsin veteran. Student need not attend school in Wisconsin to be eligible.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline March 15

American Legion Auxiliary Department of Colorado Past Presidents’ Parley Nurses Scholarship

Restricted to Colorado residents who are spouses, daughters, sons, granddaughters, great-granddaughters, grandsons, or great-grandsons of a veteran who served during a stated eligibility period for membership in the American Legion.

Amount $500 to $1,500
Application Deadline April 15

Navy Wives Club of America (NWCA) Pauline Langkamp Memorial Scholarship

Applicant must be the child of a NWCA member not carrying a military ID at the time of application. Must be able to show financial need.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline May 30

Navy Wives Club of America (NWCA) Judith Haupt Member’s Child Scholarship

Available to unmarried children of NWCA members who can demonstrate financial need and approved for admittance into an accredited postsecondary school.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline May 30

American Legion Auxiliary Department of Wisconsin H.S. and Angeline Lewis Scholarships

Applicant must be a daughter, son, wife, or widow of a veteran. Must additionally be a Wisconsin resident and demonstrate financial need. Student need not attend school in Wisconsin for this award.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline March 15

Maine Veterans Dependents Educational Benefits Program

This is a tuition waiver program for spouses and children of a veteran who died or was permanently and totally disabled as a result of their military service. Must be a Maine resident.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline Continuous

MARC Purple Heart Endowment Scholarship

An eligible candidate must be the child, adopted child, stepchild, grandchild or servicing spouse of a recipient of the U.S. Armed Forces Purple Heart medal.

Amount $500
Application Deadline February 1

eLearners.com Military Scholarship

Available to spouses of Active Duty or veterans of any branch of the U.S. military.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline September 2

American Legion Michigan William D. and Jewell Brewer Scholarship

Open to Michigan residents who are the son, daughter, grandchild or great-grandchild of a veteran, and planning to attend any nationally accredited college or university.

Amount $500
Application Deadline January 11

American Legion Michigan Guy M. Wilson Scholarship

Open to Michigan residents who are the son, daughter, grandchild or great-grandchild of a veteran, and planning to attend a Michigan college. Financial need is a factor.

Amount $500
Application Deadline January 11

Army Nurse Corps Association (ANCA) Scholarship

Current nursing or nurse anesthesia students whose spouse, parent or child is currently serving or has served in the Army, Army National Guard or Army Reserve.

Amount $3,000
Application Deadline March 21

North Carolina Veterans Scholarships

Applicant must be a child of a veteran who was a resident of North Carolina at the time the veteran’s entrance into military service or the child must have been born in and a continuous resident of North Carolina. Applicant must attend a college or university in North Carolina. Specific requirements vary by scholarship.

Amount Up to $4,500
Application Deadline February 14; June 1

Daniel E. Lambert Memorial Scholarship

Candidate must be a resident of Maine and the child or grandchild of a veteran. Must demonstrate financial need.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline May 1

VFW Auxiliary Continuing Education Scholarship

Sons, daughters and spouses of VFW Auxiliary members (for at least one year prior to application) are eligible. Financial need is a considered factor.

Amount $1,000
Application Deadline February 15

James V. Day Scholarship

Applicant must be a resident of Maine and the child or grandchild of a member of the Maine American Legion. Must also demonstrate financial need.

Amount $500
Application Deadline May 1

Navy Wives Clubs of America(NWCA) Dependent Child Scholarship

Sons and daughters of enlisted members of the Navy, Marines or Coast Guard (Active Duty, retired with pay or deceased). Applicants must show financial need.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline May 30

Navy Wives Club of America (NWCA) Mary Paolozzi Member’s Scholarship

Graduate school applicants must be NWCA members who are college graduates or undergraduate seniors who expect to enter graduate school to upcoming year.

Amount Varies
Application Deadline May 30

GI Bill Coverage Breakdown

Many of today’s veterans have two GI Bill options – the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and the Post 9/11. And the two are as different as night and day.

MONTGOMERY GI BILL

The MGIB-AD pays veterans up to $1,789 per month to go to school. Out of that money, students are responsible to pay their own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. Any additional financial aid does not affect their monthly MGIB amount, whether the money is directly applied to tuition or not.

POST 9/11 GI BILL

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is one of the most generous in the history of veteran education benefits; however, it differs from other GI Bills in the way it pays. With this GI Bill, the VA pays tuition directly to the school – the difference at public schools or up to the cap at private schools after other forms of financial aid are applied; the student gets a monthly housing allowance and up to $1,000 per academic year in a book stipend.

Forty-one percent of veterans pursuing graduate degrees are enrolled in a private school.

If attending a private school using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) will only pay tuition costs up to $21,084.89 per year.

Depending on the type of GI Bill used, and whether the school is public or private, it may not cover all of the tuition and fees charged by the school. In such cases, additional funding support can come from additional sources such as scholarships, fellowships and grants, and limit the amount of out-of-pocket expenses.

Since many advanced degree programs usually cost more than what the VA will pay, additional funding sources such as scholarships, grants and fellowships can help make up the difference, or a portion of it.

The Yellow Ribbon Program, a feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, may also be used if the school has a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA and you are selected by the school as a participant.

Checklist: Preparing & Applying for Aid

After identifying scholarships, grants and fellowships, the application process begins. One of the most important steps is to create an organized system. As you begin applying, you will have multiple applications at various stages of completion. Ensuring all required documents and materials are created, and submitted far enough in advance of the deadline, is of the utmost importance.

Below is a suggested list of tasks to use when starting the scholarship search and application process:

  • Create a list of eligible scholarships and grants

    Many scholarships only apply to certain groups of people or people having certain interests. First prepare a personal inventory based on race, gender, religion, interests, program major, hobbies, disabilities (both of you and your parents), ethnic background and any other category group that may apply to you.

    Next as you search financial aid opportunities, search out ones that apply to your personal inventory and tag them as potential candidates for submission. Start your search locally in your community; many service-based and private organizations offer scholarships to local students first.

    Now broaden your search by going online. Scour websites like Scholarship Search, Scholarships.com, StudentScholarships, Finaid or Fastweb, to name a few. Using your personal inventory, search based on those characteristics. For example, if you are a minority, there are scholarships open to you, but not for students that are not part of a recognized minority. Look for those unique groupings that apply to you.

  • Organize information

    As part of your organization process, create an email address just for college scholarship correspondence. Use that email address in your applications. You don’t want to chance that something gets lost or misplaced in your personal email and you end up missing a deadline.

    Electronically, or printed and kept in a binder, keep copies of all pertinent data such as SAT or ACT test scores, FAFSA® information, letters of recommendations, contact information for references, unofficial transcripts, scholarship essays you have written, and letters of awards.

  • Prioritize completion and submission according to filing deadline

    Set up a calendar of deadlines as to when selected financial aid applications must be submitted. Based on your submission calendar, start working on the applications with the nearest submission date first.

    To minimize wasted time, review the whole application document and instructions first to be clear of all that is required to be submitted, i.e. essays, content, format, etc.

    If the application requires letters of recommendation, ensure the writers understand the letter format and purpose behind the scholarship. That way letters can be tailored to demonstrate why you should be awarded that scholarship. Also allow the writers enough time before the deadline to write your letters of recommendation.

  • Ensure all application requirements have been met

    Once finished with one application, compare your application against the instructions. Have all requirements been met? Assemble all documents in the order specified (if submitting hard copy) or in the proper format (if submitting electronically). DO NOT mail or submit yet.

    Review all documents. Can you strengthen or clarify anything in your application to better represent you?

  • Have a friend or family member review application for completeness

    It always helps to have a second (or even third) set of eyes not only review your application for completeness, but also for spelling and grammatical errors. You are applying for money to go to college; show the receiver of your application that you are worthy of getting that money by being able to follow directions and use the English language properly.

  • Schedule submissions

    Once applications are complete, be sure to keep a copy (electronic or printed) of everything submitted. Submit the packet at least 24 hours before the deadline if submitting electronically, or one week if sending by snail mail.

  • Follow up scholarship and grant awards

    When notified of a scholarship award, file the required notification accepting the award. Acceptance can be as simple as sending an email back to the person who notified you or it can require a formal letter of acceptance. The award will state the type of acceptance required.

    Separately, also send a thank-you letter or card expressing your gratitude and how important the award is to your education. Many awards are renewable each year and an expression of gratitude can go along way at getting the award again in future years.

Additional Veteran Aid Resources

Veteran scholarship opportunities abound. Some sites are specific to a certain veteran group, such as women veterans, while other sites are more general in nature. Degree levels in which the scholarship must be used may be mixed, so research the award carefully to be sure it can be used for graduate work.

Below are some popular online scholarship search sites. Within each site are three sample listings. In most cases, there are many more in each search site.

quest
Quest Bridge

QB provides free online search engines of reputable scholarship services listed with them. Their mission is to bring bright, but under-served students and institutions of higher learning together.

University
University of Utah

The University of Utah does not endorse any of the private scholarships listed on their site. Their site includes a section of education financial aid resources for veterans, another one for women and a third for diverse students, along with a listing of 12 of the top scholarship search engines.

Northern
Northern Illinois University

Besides providing a listing of search sites and their own scholarships, it is also a great resource for scholarship tips – what to do (and not do) when searching for scholarship information.

Fastweb
Fastweb!

This free search site has a stellar reputation as the best search website in the education community. The site has won several national level awards as the best how-to guidance to sourcing education financial aid.

Nursing
Nursing Scholarships.us

If your goal is to pursue an advanced degree in nursing, this is the search tool to use for scholarships to help support your education funding as all scholarship sources focus on just nursing.

UCLA
UCLA Scholarship Resource Center

Established in 1996, the Resource Center not only exists to support UCLA undergraduate students but also graduate students, with financial aid information and sources. Their scholarship database also includes a search for graduate students not attending UCLA or UC, so basically any graduate student can access the sources in this listing.

School
School Soup

School Soup boasts as having the largest scholarship database in the world. While their information has been licensed to Fortune 500 companies in the past and students had to pay to access it, they now offer free scholarship search to the general public.

Federal
Federal Student Aid

As part of the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of education funding in the nation. They also provide program oversight to ensure compliance with regulations, laws and policies governing federal student aid programs.

Scholarship
Free Scholarship Online

Scholarships and grants are grouped by categories on this site. For example, Scholarships for Military Spouse, Graduate Study, College Grants, etc. They also have a large financial aid listing by individual source.

Junkies
Scholarship Junkies.com

In addition to several scholarship search sites, the secondary mission of this website is to connect scholarship winners with students seeking scholarships. The lessons learned help scholarship seekers successfully compete and win awards to help them fund their education.