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America Saves...Day 5!

I for one have applied for a majority of the scholarships available to me on FastWeb. And after I exhausted that resource, I realized that the majority of those were scholarships that almost anyone could qualify for. I needed to find scholarships that were more pertinent to my degree plan, my region and my academic standing.

I didn't graduate in the top ten and my parents don't make alot of money, but still enough that the government says they should pay for school even when I know they can't afford it. Whats left to me then? Scholarships and Student Loans... My ambition is to not have dug myself into a giant pit of debt upon graduation. So scholarships it is.

So how do I get the opportunity to apply for more?

A few simple steps I utilize and hope to have work in my favor.

1. Don't sit there and wait for scholarships to come to you. No one is going to walk up to you on the street and hand you a wad of cash, so don't expect scholarships to work that way either. Even top academic and athletic students had to earn their scholarships, its only right that you do legwork too.

2. Write you essays! I know that its exhausting and you may not be pleased with the end result but getting your essays written long before the deadline approaches will allow you to make any edits you deem necessary. Have a teacher or professor proofread and edit your paper for you to ensure that you come off as professional.

3. You will never run out of scholarship opportunities. GUARANTEED. I can say this with confidence because when I thought I was done, I learned to open more doors for myself. When FastWeb wasn't producing the results I needed, I contacted my school to find out if they had any leads. When that was exhausted I contacted the chamber of commerce in my area to see if they had any funding or monies designated for scholarships. When that was exhausted I turned to my degree plan and began searching for organizations and affiliations within my city that might have a scholarship fund for engineers. When that was exhausted I turned to my church to see if they had any information on scholarships for active christian students. The only thing I had to lose was time, but while it was time-consuming it was well worth the effort. As the saying goes, Rinse and Repeat. Start over again, scholarships become available all year round. And don't forget to check with your state's education page. They may have more scholarship lists available to you.

4. When all else fails... Google. This is the most time-consuming venture of all as you have to actually sift through scholarship opportunities and figure out if you're eligible. With the right search parameters, Google can pull up anything. "Nursing Scholarships" or "Nursing Scholarships in California" or "Pediatric Nursing Scholarships" all produce results. But don't give up. Draft up a letter to send to any scholarships that you have missed the deadline for and request information about applying for the scholarship next year. Requesting this information will give you time to prepare as well to make sure they are having the scholarship once more. Nothing I dislike more than putting together a scholarship only to release: I'm ineligible, I missed the deadline or it's inactive. While search engines can produce a wealth of information, its quality over quantity.

5. Never mislead others about yourself on a scholarship application, this could come back to haunt you. Always have backup copies of your resume, letters of recommendation, biography and general essays in the event your computer crashes. Store them online with your email provider for fast submission and for added security