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Community-Based Scholarships and Financial Aid

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

When you hear the term, “community-based scholarship,” two different meanings come to mind. You may have heard community-based scholarships be defined as awards from local organizations, or scholarships awarded for a service to one’s community. Either one can be used to your advantage when seeking outside scholarships to supplement your financial aid package at college.

Finding Local Scholarships

With so many local organizations offering scholarships, it’s no wonder how important it is to know how to locate these ‘free money’ opportunities. And, with less competition in local communities, your chances are greater for receiving a scholarship. Here are tips on making the most of your search throughout your community.

Start early. If you are a college-bound high school student, it’s never too early to seek scholarships from local organizations. Talk to other students, parents, and your guidance counselors to find out which local businesses and organizations offer scholarships in your community.

Call local community organizations and large businesses. Every community has an abundance of organizations and businesses that offer scholarships. Start making those calls. Call businesses like local banking institutions, community foundations, department stores, and grocery stores. Then call local chapters of organizations like Tri Kappa sorority, Knights of Columbus, and the Kiwanis Club.

Check the local newspapers. Often times the newspaper lists local scholarships and provides application information for each. It’s also a good idea to note when scholarship information is published in the newspaper. For instance, a local newspaper might print a story on financial aid and attending college every spring, emphasizing local scholarship availability.

Have a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) handy. It would be wise to have a copy of your SAR available in case an organization asks for it. Since many local scholarships are need-based, your SAR helps determine your financial need level. The Knights of Columbus are an example of an organization who requests a SAR.

Use the Internet for research. Use the Internet to find local scholarship opportunities. If you search the main organization, it may tell you what scholarships are awarded from the chapter in your community.

Some examples of local scholarships include:

The Community Foundation of Wabash County, in Wabash, Indiana, offers many endowed scholarships for local students. The Vanessa Anne Baer Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a Northfield High School student who plans to attend a four-year college. This is a non-renewable scholarship. DePauw University applicants will receive special consideration.

Another scholarship offered is the Wabash County Solid Waste Management District Environmental Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to a Wabash resident pursuing a degree in environmental studies at an Indiana college or Indiana university.

The Knights of Columbus offer several scholarships including the John W. McDevitt Scholarships. This scholarship is awarded to nearly 35 freshmen each year who are planning to attend a Catholic college or a Catholic university. Applicants must be members in good standing or be related to a member in good standing. Award amount is $1,500 each.

Finding Community-based Scholarships

Doing good for others can earn you a scholarship. That’s right. If you are involved in philanthropic or community service projects, you may qualify for a community-based scholarship. These scholarships are awarded to students, like yourself, for helping others.

Some tips for obtaining community-based scholarships:

Get involved early. If you are a college-bound high school student and know you will need financial assistance, why not spend your time wisely by helping others. Your gift of giving may earn you a worthwhile scholarship later.

Ask the location where you volunteer. As the time nears for you to apply for college, ask the local hospital you’ve been volunteering at for two years if there are scholarship opportunities for volunteer services. You may be surprised at the answer.

Continue volunteering. If you truly have a passion for community service, continue giving your time and talent to causes that need you. These experiences are rewarding and may offer more rewards as you continue through your college career.

Some examples of community-based scholarships are:

Bonner Scholarship —awarded to entering students who have a financial need and a passion for social justice and service. Award amount is $12,000 per year. Applicant must be planning to attend Rhodes College.

AXA Achievement Scholarship —sponsored by AXA Foundation, this scholarship is awarded to high school seniors planning to attend college full-time. Applicant must have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the community, their school, or workplace.

The Heart of America Christopher Reeve Award —awarded to a high school senior or younger, who has demonstrated extraordinary community service. Award amount is $1,000.

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