PHEAA Encourages Students to Search for Scholarships

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National Scholarship Month Highlights Benefits of Free Money to Pay for College

Harrisburg, PA (November 23, 2015)—The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is encouraging students to research and apply for scholarships to help them pay for postsecondary education. Scholarships, along with grants, are free money awards that do not need to be repaid.

"November is recognized as National Scholarship Month because it is a perfect time to search for scholarships that can be used during the following academic year," said Representative William Adolph, PHEAA Board Chairman. "Scholarships are an important part of a student's higher education plan because they can lessen the need to borrow money through expensive student loans."

Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate high achievement in areas such as academics, athletics, music, art and many other fields. They are also awarded to students who meet a variety of unique criteria as defined by the organization or individual offering the scholarship. Scholarships can be offered by federal or state governments, schools, civic organizations, anonymous citizens, religious institutions, businesses, or trade associations, and private foundations.

Students should ask their school counselor if they are aware of any scholarships that may be available, in addition to exploring free scholarship search engines and databases on the Internet.

"Taking the initiative to thoroughly search for scholarships is well worth a student's time," said Senator Wayne D. Fontana, PHEAA Board Vice Chairman. "There are tens of thousands of scholarships out there. The trick is knowing where to search and then investing the sufficient time to discover what may be available. Scholarships are often as unique as the individual searching for them."

PHEAA offers these tips:

  • Begin searching for scholarships early.
  • Use FREE scholarship search websites.
  • Don't ignore scholarships with smaller award amounts.
  • Search for scholarships every year.
  • Check corporate and trade association websites, which may offer awards without an employment requirement.
  • Avoid application fees.
  • Don't miss application deadlines.

PHEAA's career and college-planning website, EducationPlanner.org, is an excellent resource for learning about how to pay for college, including scholarships and other gift aid opportunities.

EducationPlanner.org also links to FastWeb, a free national scholarship search engine. Simply fill out a brief student profile and FastWeb will search for awards for which you may qualify. Students' profile information is not shared with any third parties. Keep in mind, you don't need to have a 4.0 GPA or be a star running back or a concert-level violinist to find scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships for a wide range of students, such as awards for students with environmental interests. Once students complete their profile, the FastWeb search engine provides links to the awards that match their profile. Each award links to the application for the scholarship.

PHEAA encourages students and families to be cautious if contacted by organizations offering to provide scholarship searches for a fee. Some companies are legitimate and others are not. If students are promised a scholarship, are told they have already won a scholarship and must submit a fee to get the award, or are told they can't find this information anywhere else, they should be wary of participating. Students should never provide their Social Security number or bank account information, if requested. Several hundred thousand students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams every year, costing those victims more than $100 million annually.

For the latest financial aid information and helpful tips, upcoming deadlines and free financial aid workshops, join PHEAA on Facebook at facebook.com/pheaa.aid.