If you search online for ideas on how to pay for college, you’ll find plenty of articles telling you to apply for scholarships.

This is absolutely great advice– and WSU offers tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships each year– but it can be overwhelming to know where to begin.

So here are a few tips on applying for scholarships from someone who’s been there.

You Don’t Know Until You Try

There are so many scholarships out there, and they aren’t just for the super talented, high-achieving students either. Are you a B-average student? Do you love cats? There’s a scholarship for that!

Sometimes the weirdest scholarships are the least competitive because so few people qualify. Sometimes seemingly high-competition scholarships are within your reach because people think they won’t have a chance and don’t apply.

Either way you’ll up your chances by simply applying. You miss 100% of the scholarships you don’t apply for.

I’m not going to lie—applying for scholarships will take some work, and you may not win most of the awards. I applied for dozens, but only received 5 scholarships throughout my college career.

But your effort can really pay off when you graduate with fewer loans and less out-of-pocket costs because you took the time to apply for scholarships.

Watch Out for Scams

As you search for outside scholarships, be wary of any offer that:

  • charges fees
  • asks for credit cards or checking account information
  • guarantees scholarships

These are signs of scams targeted toward college students. You should not have to pay to apply or receive information about financial aid and scholarships.

Get Your Money

When you are awarded a scholarship, the money is usually applied to your student account in two even installments– half for fall semester and half for spring.

This is nice because it gives you an even tuition bill throughout the year, rather than trying to come up with a larger lump sum in second semester.

If the donor has specific disbursement instructions, the Financial Aid office will honor those directions.

With a little persistence and some savvy around scams, you can get the scholarships you need to help pay for your college education.