Scholarships: How to get free money

Chelsea L. McDowell
Marketing Manager

For broke college students the prospect of having to apply for a scholarship may seem intimidating.

Students may not believe that they will qualify for a scholarship or know where to go to apply for one. Fortunately for me, I’m able to see how simple getting a scholarship is through my work as a student assistant for the Annual Giving and Stewardship department in the University Advancement office.

Finding where to go to apply online can be challenging with how the school website is formatted. There’s no “apply for scholarships here” button, but those interested can go to, where they’ll have to sign in with their Net ID and password.

A list of the different scholarships available is given, but students don’t have to scour that list to find the right one to apply.

The general application is one page of providing information such as your name and if you’ll be participating in the University Jazz Ensemble next year; providing lists of your high school and college activities—the key word here is list, essays are another portion; and finally writing an essay about a barrier you’ve overcome. The essay must be in paragraph format, but there is no length requirement.

The general application also asks for two letters of recommendation, which can be uploaded or a request can be sent to a reference.

The letter of recommendation is a bonus, but ultimately optional. While this may help your chance of a scholarship committee approving your application, not having a letter of recommendation does not mean that you shouldn’t still submit your application.

A concern students may have is that their academic standing won’t be good enough for a scholarship; however, you don’t need a 4.5 GPA to get a scholarship.

I believe my GPA was a 2.6 when I received The John and Angelina Bertano Memorial Scholarship. So no, you don’t have to be a perfect student to get a scholarship, but you do have to apply.

Something that is helpful for more reasons than just applying for scholarships is getting involved with your community.

You can volunteer at church, a hospital or any organization that serves the public.

Scholarships are created by people who want to make a difference and give back to their community; you don’t have to pay them back in cash, but you can pay it forward through volunteer work.

Kelsey Greaves is the Annual Giving and Stewardship Coordinator and my boss.

In an email she wrote, “If you are afraid of the application or your ability, we have scholarship workshops (hosted by the office of Financial Aid) that can help you through it. The next one is Jan. 30 from 9am to 10:30am in the Walter Stiern Library #16.”