Chapter 12 Financial Aid and Funding Options

12.3 Applying for Student Awards

In Chapter 12.2 Personal Budget you learned about the numerous options for funding your education. In this section you will research some awards and apply for some that you are eligible for.

There are generally three kinds of awards: internal, external, and outgoing awards.

  • Outgoing awards. If you are currently attending high school, there are likely outgoing awards from your current school. These are scholarships and bursaries awarded by the school you are leaving. These are often given out at the graduation ceremony and are given for a number of things such as academic merit, sports awards, club involvement, leadership awards, and many more. Once you have graduated and are no longer a student there, you are ineligible for these awards.
  • Internal awards. These are awards that a post-secondary institution gives to its own students. They can be entrance awards for students who have applied to come to the college or university. Generally entrance awards are meant to entice students to come to that school. They are often to attract high-achieving students or high-achieving athletes. Internal awards are also given to current students for a variety of criteria including academic merit, leadership, community involvement, and a variety of other things. Often donors who set up awards in memory of a loved one will set the criteria to reflect something about the one the award is named after. For example, if the person the award is named after had to overcome many challenges in order to graduate from their program, the award criteria may be that the award goes to someone who has courageously overcome many obstacles to be there. As a result there are often numerous ways to be eligible for different awards, because there are so many different awards available. Apply for internal awards. Students are often surprised when they receive them, expecting that some other student was likely a better candidate. You will not get an award if you do not apply! You can usually find internal awards on the specific college or university website in the financial aid and awards section. Check to see when the application deadlines are and apply early.
  • External awards. External awards are awards that are not issued by specific schools but are available to the broader community. The awards are generally given by organizations, clubs, churches, and businesses. They will have specific criteria for eligibility and recipients will be chosen by awards committees that evaluate who meets the criteria the best. There are incredibly unusual criteria for awards. Even if you aren’t a strong student, you will likely be eligible to apply for numerous awards. There are pet-lovers’ awards, Instagrammer awards, movie-buff awards, and everything you can imagine. To access these awards go to the websites listed below. You will need to start a profile and give them your email address. You will be asked a number of questions, some ordinary and some very unusual. These are the questions that help determine your eligibility for numerous awards. Once you have completed the questionnaire, the site will send you a list of the awards you are eligible to apply for. You can then go through the list to decide which ones you will actually apply for. You can have the site order them in order of financial awards highest to lowest. Or you can order them by date of the application deadlines so that you always have the ones whose deadlines are approaching at the top of your list. Some applications require a simple fill in the application form, while others will ask you for short answers about relevant topics, while others will require you to write a short essay. These are great ones to apply for, as they are often the ones that students don’t bother applying for, so your chances to receive them are greater. and are excellent sites to search for external awards.


Exercise: Identify Personal Accomplishments and Attributes

In preparation for applying for student awards, it is important to identify your personal accomplishments and attributes. Often people forget about the many things they have done, or they underestimate their value. Start by making a list of the following.

  1. Academic achievements. If you are an excellent student, note your grade point average or your marks from your last year in school. It could also include any specific awards you received. Were there specific subjects you were recognized for at school awards ceremonies? You may have some of these certificates filed away somewhere (or your mother might!) You may have been recognized for a specific project you worked on. Make note of your academic highlights.
  2. Awards. Think about some of the awards you may have received over the years. These could be awards for athletics, at your job, from your teachers, from your dance class, anything. Maybe you were employee of the month, or maybe you received an award for being the most sportsmanlike on your team, or maybe you received an award for thinking creatively at work. Take the time to think about the things you have been recognized for. These may be important to mention on an award application.
  3. Community service. Think of ways you have contributed to your community. Have you coached a team? Have you refereed for a tournament? Do you volunteer at your church? Do you volunteer at community events? Sometimes people don’t think they do much until they brainstorm and write it all down.
  4. Volunteer work. This is similar to community service, and you may have already listed this in the last section. But sometimes you volunteer your time for things that aren’t part of an organization. Maybe you help the kid next door with his homework, or watch the kids for a single mom while she goes to the gym once a week. Think about the ways you help others and list them.
  5. Affiliations. List the clubs and organizations you are a part of. Then list the clubs and organizations your parents have been a part of.
  6. Attributes. Think of some of your attributes – the qualities and characteristics that you have that make you special. This can be hard to identify, but think about it. Are you good at public speaking? Are you a gifted listener who empathizes with people? Often by identifying these traits, it will help you think of ways to answer specific questions on the awards application forms.

Listing these out might feel strange, as though you are bragging. But you will need to brag a bit when you apply for student awards. Remember the people reading these applications don’t know you. The only information they will have to help them make their decisions is the information you give them. So the more you can tell them, the better informed they will be in knowing who you are. Don’t be afraid to list your accomplishments and attributes.

Exercise: Apply for Funding

Choose one or more of the following options for funding and submit an application.

  1. Student loan
  2. Internal awards
  3. External awards

In this exercise you will apply for at least one thing. If you want to apply for an internal award, you will need to check if award applications at your institution are open at this time. If you apply for an external award, you can apply for one of the many awards open to you. Report back on the award you applied to and the process. How hard or easy was it to apply for the award?


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Student Success Copyright © 2020 by Mary Shier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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