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Scholarship Thursday 17: 3 Scholarship Sources You Need to Know About

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August 21, 2008 by Mara Strom

I’m changing things up this Scholarship Thursday. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been mentioning the August slow-down in scholarships with immediate deadlines. That’s because

everyone is getting ready to go back to school — including scholarship committees.

Now the truth is that if you are looking for local niche scholarships, you may still be in luck. But since I try to bring you national (or at least regional) opportunities, there are definitely fewer choices this time of year.

So, instead of my regular format, today I’m bringing you three major scholarship sources you NEED to know about. All of these are big foundations associated with big businesses — and all of them have extremely generous college scholarship programs available for regular Americans like you. (In other words, you don’t have to be the child of an employee. You do, however, have to have smarts, leadership and some mad essay skills working in your favor.)

#1 Coca-Cola
Since 1986, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has been supporting over 1,400 college students each year. The Foundation provides $3.4 million in annual scholarships through its two nationally recognized programs: the four-year award and the two-year award.

The four-year award program provides 50 high school seniors with a four-year $20,000 scholarship, and it gives another 200 high school seniors a four-year $10,000 scholarship. Scholarships are intended to reward leadership and excellence, with a focus on academic achievement, extracurricular activities and community service. The application is available online beginning in August and is due no later than October 31. If you’re planning on attending a four-year institution, why not take advantage in the lull in scholarship opps to get a jump on your Coke Scholars application?

If you are planning to work toward your AA at a junior college, then you’ll want to make a note about Coca-Cola’s two-year program. It awards 350 one-time scholarships in the amount of $1,000 to students attending any accredited two-year institution. Winners must demonstrate significant volunteer contributions and/or work experience. Applications are accepted from March 1st – May 31st. For more information, visit www.ptk.org.

#2 Wal-Mart
Each year, more than 8,000 students get help paying for college from Wal-Mart Foundation scholarships. The Foundation has three different programs: the Wal-Mart ASSOCIATE, Higher REACH, and Sam Walton COMMUNITY scholarships. If you’re interested in learning more, mark your calendar for November — That’s when the Wal-Mart site will make applications and program guidelines available online.

#3 Gates Millennium Scholarship
Funded by a $1 billion gift from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Linda, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program aims to provide educational opportunities to outstanding minority students with significant financial need. Since its founding in 1999, the Scholars Program has supported more than 12,000 students enrolled at over 1,500 colleges and universities across the United States.

Awards from the Gates Millennium Scholars Program support the cost of education not covered by self-help and financial aid. In other words, the award amount will vary, depending on how much your school costs, how much aid you receive, and how much you and your parents can contribute. Scholars with satisfactory academic progress may have their scholarships renewed. In addition to scholarship money, the program also offers leadership development, mentoring services, and an online resource center.

Check the website for application availability: here.

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