Five Tips for Funding: Make the Most of Scholarship Applications text in front of graduating student

Many students or up-and-coming students have heard of FAFSA®, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s important to fill out the FAFSA® form for every year you plan to attend school, as the results not only determine your federal aid eligibility but are also often referenced by states and schools as well. However, did you know that there are additional resources available to help cut down the cost of school if you know where to look?


Think Outside the Box

While grades and test scores often play important roles in applying for financial aid, they are not your only resources. Ask yourself what you’re good at, what clubs you’re involved in, and what career field you’re interested in, because all of these things can lead to more funding! Nonprofits are a great resource, so look for ones that support concepts you’re interested in. Did you spend all four years of high school in drama club or a choir? Check out performing art centers. Do you have your heart set on a particular career field? Look for big players in that industry and see if they have outreach or student programs.


Check In Regularly

A lot of scholarships are annual, so start your search early and revisit pages often. If you miss a deadline for one year, set a calendar reminder to check back frequently for the announcement of the next year’s application opening. Some organizations, like The Classic Center, will also announce their scholarship season on social media, so consider following sources you want to keep an eye on to guarantee you stay in the know.

 girl receiving check and another girl playing saxophone

Be Thorough

After you’ve put in all the effort to find a scholarship opportunity that fits your needs and resume, make sure you don’t miss out on the award by skipping details. Pay extra close attention to deadlines and requirements. If it requires an essay, give yourself time to write and edit, as well as to have a parent or peer review it. If you need references, give the people you ask ample time to complete them. Before you submit an application, always do a final readthrough of the requirements to make sure you haven’t skipped any crucial information.


Verify Sources

Unfortunately, scammers are out there. Always verify online sources and applications before inputting any personal information. Ask your school’s guidance counselor to look through what you’ve found. Is the nonprofit offering resources well-known or do they have a brick and mortar building you could call independently from the scholarship site to verify they are really the ones offering it? A scholarship should not require any money to submit an application.


Look for Local Funding

Federal scholarships can be extremely helpful, but don’t forget to look at local funding sources, too. Schools themselves often offer funding opportunities to current students, so talk to your guidance counselor or advisor about what’s available.

Nonprofits like The Classic Center Cultural Foundation offer a variety of scholarships to both high school students and currently enrolled college or trade school students. With over $60,000 awarded in grants and annual hospitality education, performing arts, and visual arts scholarships, this is a resource you don’t want to miss out on!

The performing arts and visual arts scholarships are open to 9th through 12th grade students living in the Northeast Georgia region.  The deadline for this year’s application for both categories is March 1, 2024, at 5:00 p.m.

Students currently enrolled in a hospitality, event, music, or sports management program at the University of Georgia or Athens Technical College, as well as graduating seniors of the Athens Community Career Academy, should consider applying for the Paul T. Martin Hospitality Education Fund. The deadline for this year is February 16, 2024.