Although the application process for scholarships might seem tedious, the free financial aid that you could be awarded can help you pay for a portion, and occasionally even all, of your college expenses. Unlike government-issued grants, there are scholarship opportunities for nearly everyone, even those students whose grade-point averages are less than perfect. The key to finding and winning scholarships is to determine what you have to offer, whether it is creativity, perseverance, leadership or even just amazing writing skills, and search for the scholarships that best fit your situation.

Talent Scholarships

For students aiming to acquire a career in one of the more creative fields, such as photography, dance, writing or media, there is the option of applying for scholarships that are based on creative talents rather than conventional academics. Schedule a meeting with a counselor at your college’s local financial aid office to find out more information about scholarships that may be available directly through your school and nationwide. An online scholarship search site is also a valuable tool that will allow you to hunt for scholarships using the keywords that best describe your talents and interests. A few of the more renowned creative scholarships include the David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship, the J.D. Salinger Award and Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go College Scholarship Program.

Essay Scholarships

For those students who possess strong writing skills and opinionated personalities, applying for essay-centered scholarships might be the best opportunity to receive money for college. Although many essay contests offer smaller amounts of money, a great deal of these scholarships are awarded based purely on the quality of your essay, and you can apply to as many as you want to accumulate college funds. A simple search for the term essay scholarships using your preferred online search engine will lead you to a list of essay contests that are available. A few of the more profitable essay scholarship contests include the Ayn Rand Essay Contest, the College Prowler Essay Competition, the Voice of Democracy Essay Contest and the Americanism Essay Contest.

Community Scholarships

Students who have proved that they are an asset to their community, regardless of grades, have a number of scholarships available to them. If you are an active member and participant of your religion, it is worthwhile to ask your church, along with others in your community, whether or not they offer any college scholarships. An online search for scholarships based on religion will also yield a number of opportunities. If you have spent a substantial amount of time volunteering for a worthy cause and showcasing your commitment to improving your community, you will find a number of scholarships dedicated to helping you pay for college in the hopes that you will gain skills that will allow you to keep contributing to others. Although an online search for community service scholarships will lead you to a long list of prospects, a few of the more well-known scholarships include the Discover Scholarship Program, the Do Something Awards and the AXA Achievement Scholarship Program.

Adversity Scholarships

The ability to persevere through difficult situations and conditions and still maintain the desire to continue on in the educational world is a strong characteristic that trumps academics in a number of scholarships. If you have had to struggle with finances, overcome a physical or mental disability, live through a family tragedy or any other such hardship while also attending and committing yourself to school, you might be able to win an adversity scholarship, even with average grades. In addition to talking with a counselor at your local financial aid office and performing online searches, you should also visit your local library to browse through scholarship books, such as “The Ultimate Scholarship Book,” to find a list of adversity based scholarships, such as the Horatio Alger Association Scholarship, the Patricia M. McNamara Memorial Scholarship and the Life Lessons Scholarship Program.

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About the Author

Danielle Crandall has been a professional writer and editor for more than five years. Her work has appeared in various online publications and marketing materials for nonprofit organizations, covering topics ranging from beauty and fashion to home decor to education and society. Crandall holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Arizona.