There are so many different types of scholarships available these days and, of course, many scholarship myths that hinder the process. Most students have a much better chance than they think of qualifying for scholarships.

MYTH #1: You should begin searching for scholarships during your senior year.
You can wait until your senior year, but it is really not advisable. Ideally, students should begin searching for scholarships to become aware of deadlines and opportunities before it’s time to apply. You can create a calendar for scholarships of interest and their range of due dates. Most scholarship deadlines fall between October and January so plan ahead!

MYTH #2: Scholarships are only for top scholars and athletes.
There are so many scholarships that do not take grades or athletic ability/participation into consideration whatsoever and some, while they do consider your GPA, the minimum may be 2.5, rather than 4.0.

MYTH #3: You have to be a great essay writer to get one.
Often, it is more about what you write than how well it is written. Whether you follow the instructions and address the essay question is often more crucial to your success than how eloquently you write.

MYTH #4: Most scholarship awards are small and not worth the effort of applying.
If you win 7 or 8 scholarships that range from $1,000 to $5,000, you could pay for a good portion of your first year in college. Every dollar awarded is one less dollar in student loan debt you have to pay when you graduate.

MYTH #5: Scholarships are all heavily weighted towards minorities and those with documented financial need.
This is true but there are a lot of scholarships that don’t take either of those into consideration. Seek opportunities based on your interests, talents and academic credentials. Be sure to read the qualifications thoroughly and follow the instructions.

MYTH #6: Scholarship competition is too intense. It’s not worth bothering.
Sure there is competition. But so many of those applying don’t take the time to properly read or follow the rules and answer the questions thoughtfully, or even correctly. Do everything correctly and you could be one of a small percentage of applicants who even gets considered. Here’s another way to look at it. What if you spent a total of 50 hours searching and applying for scholarships? And, after all that time and effort, you win two or three scholarships, totaling about $2,000. That’s $40 per hour, which much greater than any other activity or “job” you may have.

MYTH #7: The scholarship application process is a one-time thing.
Not so. Each year, you need to look for money for the next and there is money out there for high school seniors, returning college students and graduate students. It’s worth searching each year to see what is out there.

MYTH #8: Billions of dollars in scholarship funds go unawarded each year.
Not true. However, there are some scholarships that have few applicants because students to do not apply as much as you think or because they are difficult to find. Never pay to find financial aid for college! Consult your guidance counselor, your community organizations, and even your place of worship. Many community-based organizations offer scholarships and your friends and family can give you great leads about opportunities right in your area.

The scholarship process can be daunting but if you are prepared and organized, you can gain so much more from your time and effort.

(adapted from