Be careful when reading college scholarship applications

December 12, 2012

There are dozens upon dozens of different organizations offering financial aid for moms, minorities, underprivileged youth and a variety of specific job paths and fields of study. Reading through these requires thoroughness and an eye for detail, as some have exceptional caveats and liabilities. Others may simply not apply to an applicant's situation. For single moms, making sure their funding efforts are all put toward potentially successful endeavors is key, since they don't have a lot of time to waste.

Other liabilities
The extent to which a scholarship program will ask something of the recipient varies by institution, but some have requirements of all candidates as well. It's common practice for need-based awards to ask a lot of prying questions regarding income, housing and family size, so if a single mom isn't comfortable giving all that data away, it could be the scholarship isn't a good fit.

There's also a common thread among many scholarship groups to ask winners to promote the awarding establishment or perform other volunteer work. This may be trivial for young people with no obligations outside of the classroom, but oftentimes single moms are working on top of caring for children and attending college. If time budgeting is already at crisis levels, a single mom shouldn't apply for an award that requires even more of her attention. As the Magnolia Reporter wrote, even some scholarships for mothers will ask for this kind of donation, so always read the fine print.

Specific qualifications
There are a number of awards that may look very appealing to a single mom at first glance, but digging deeper is always encouraged. That scholarship that was so appealing, with its $10,000 award and no time constraints, may only be open to mechanical engineers or business management students, so spending hours writing an essay or filling out a questionnaire would be worthless if a mom's academic goals didn't match the qualifications.

On the other hand, single moms looking for college scholarships may be able to use these restrictions to their benefit. Seeking out grants and aid that specifically target a certain major or career path can reduce the overall number of applicants, making these awards easier to win. Many online tools are set up to help search for scholarships in this manner, but when conducting a physical search at a financial aid or other public office, checking for these kinds of restrictions first is key.

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