How to get the best college scholarships

December 31, 2012

Single moms know that starting early means finishing early with everything from cleaning the house to studying for exams, but when it comes to college scholarships, not everyone gets the same jump on applications that they should. Of course, there's more to scoring the perfect scholarship than just sending in paperwork on time. While there's no way to guarantee a winning form, there are other things that can be done to ensure financial aid for moms comes through.

Don't be deterred
There's plenty of legwork that goes into applying for a scholarship, and the first step is finding the ones for which single moms qualify. Just because it's not a fund set up specifically for single parents doesn't mean that mothers shouldn't try to win these awards. Other factors like grade point average, intended career, current field of study or past work experience can help get into a certain college scholarship's pool of recipients.

Recycle, reuse, reduce
MSN spoke with college funding guru Ben Kaplan and asked how to cut down the application time involved. For single moms, time is everything, and it may be the one big deterrent in searching out more funding options.

Kaplan's recommendation was to reuse some, if not all of a scholarship essay previously submitted for another award. He warned moms and applicants to be careful about context, but since so many applications want the same kind of content, it's okay to recycle certain elements of the same essay for different awards.

Clean it up
First impressions are important, and since the only aspect of a single mom that a scholarship review board will see is her application, it's important that this look as professional as possible. Use fresh paper, full ink cartridges and legible fonts when printing out essays and other documentation. If there are forms that require filling in, see if these can also be completed online, and if not, be sure to have at least one other copy available in case penmanship seems sloppy or something is filled out wrong.

What's more, getting a proofreader to ensure that grammar, style and punctuation are on par will grant a better chance at success. School resources may include a writing center, and many professors and advisors may be willing to assist in this function.

Campus Grotto also recommended that, for larger application packages, sending FedEx and postal parcels removes the sloppy appearance of trying to fold and force too many pages into a business-size envelope. 

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