Finding scholarships when parents make too much $$$ and your GPA is not so great

Posted Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 12:00am

Some college students think they are not eligible to receive scholarships and grants; their parents earn too much money, they don't belong to a minority group or they lack a stellar grade point average (G.P.A.). However, these are widely held misconceptions, according to University of Utah Assistant Librarian Peter Kraus, who teaches a class on finding scholarships. In fact, he says, every year there is money that goes unclaimed.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, annually there are 750,000 scholarships worth a total of $1.2 billion for qualified students. Pell Grants from the U.S. Government are awarded to almost 40 percent of college students.

The class, "Searching for Scholarships," is an ongoing effort to make outreach beyond the campus borders and provide educational benefits to the people of Utah.

"If students can find scholarship money, they will defer their loan loads. The more scholarship money they can get, the better off they will be after graduation," notes Kraus. "The class really empowers students to do accurate and efficient research on scholarships that meet their individual needs."

Kraus, who works in the Marriott Library's Technology Assisted Curriculum Center and the Government Documents department, says, "There's a lot more scholarship money out there than people realize." He says numerous types of scholarships and grant monies exist, including the unusual endowed David Letterman scholarship at Ball State University in Indiana. Established at his alma mater by the late-night talk-show host, the annual award, of up to $10,000, is given to a telecommunications major based solely on his or her creativity, not grades. Kraus points to other unique scholarships-the local Zions Bank Founders Scholarship Program and the Talbots Women's Scholarship Fund, a national scholarship program established by the women's clothing company that helps highly motivated women to complete their undergraduate degrees.

Because there are numerous types of scholarships, Kraus suggests students look for them in a variety of places, including student newspapers where scholarship announcements are placed by various campus organizations. Ethnic and religious organizations, private corporations, honor societies, employers and local civic and business groups offer scholarships. Students should be aware that most schools offer university-, college- and department-wide scholarships as well as grants to study abroad.

The key to landing scholarships, Kraus says, is to be proactive and begin researching the opportunities early. Most scholarships are awarded for the following academic year. He also gives these tips: complete Financial Aid Forms (FAFs) annually, read all forms and applications thoroughly, meet eligibility requirements, submit good essays, turn applications in on time and check spelling and grammar.

"Students don't need to pay for scholarship services. You can find everything you need through the University's Marriott Library for free," Kraus notes, adding that the library has a rich collection of books and directories on the subject and can refer students to scholarship resources on the Web. When it comes to financing their education Kraus recommends students also look into applying for financial aid and work-study programs.

"Students shouldn't be discouraged if they are turned down the first time. They should keep applying for scholarships. Persistence pays off," Kraus says.

Information on the class may be obtained by calling the Marriott Library at 1-800-405-8536.

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