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Unclaimed Scholarships

If you are a college student, a high school student planning to attend college, or a parent of either one, odds are that you might be worried about how you will pay for school.

It’s a reasonable concern, especially given the current state of the economy and the fact that tuition is rising faster than inflation.

You can help assuage your concerns by saving as much and as long as possible for college and by availing yourself of federal financial aid. Another wonderful way to help pay for your higher education is with college scholarships. Many students and would-be students assume they will not qualify for scholarships because they don’t have a 4.0 GPA or varsity letters in major sports. But that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

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The reality is that there are hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarship monies available in the United States, and many — if not most — of these scholarships are attainable by regular students with regular accomplishments. There are even dozens of odd and unusual scholarships for all those odd and unusual students out there.

The bottom line is this: You don’t have to be a superstar to win scholarship awards — but you will probably feel like one when you pay for your tuition with free money!

So, Where Do You Find Unclaimed Scholarships?

One good place to look for scholarships is on the Financial Aid Finder Scholarship Announcement Blog. Every Friday, the site lists several scholarship opportunities with upcoming deadlines. Nearly all of the scholarships are nationwide opportunities, so you should be eligible for many, if not most, of them.

You can also try conducting a simple Google search. Just plug in the word scholarship, together with some of the qualities you think you might be able to get funding for, such as academic achievement, leadership experience, ethnic background or athletic ability. Or you could try a search for scholarships designated for your particular university, major or hometown.

Another efficient way to search for scholarships is via a free scholarship search engine. A word to the wise about scholarship searchers: Beware of any website charging a fee for their services — it’s more than likely a scam. Instead, stick to the reputable sites that have been around for years, all of which offer free access to tens of thousands of scholarships.

Also beware of scholarship services offering insider access to the “millions of dollars in unclaimed scholarships” — for a fee of course.

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While it is true that some scholarship opportunities go unallocated every year, far more common are the scholarships that have thousands of applicants for just one shot at $1,000.

Where does the myth of unclaimed scholarships come from?

According to Marvin Carmichael, past Chairman of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), this notion that billions of dollars of scholarships go unclaimed year year has been around for a long time, but it is most definitely a myth. If a university does not award all its scholarship money one year, Carmichael explains, it is because of weird timing issues or highly restrictive eligibility requirements.

Carmichael points out that scholarship scammers might also be misconstruing employer-paid benefits as scholarships, since employee benefits typically account for about 85% of the total amount of private aid spent on education every year. In reality, however, he insists that the number of unused scholarships is very small.

If you want to claim a scholarship for yourself, start by checking out these articles:

>> Scholarship Selection Criteria: What a Scholarship Committee Is Looking For
>> Scholarship Essay Writing Tips
>> The Top 10 Most Unusual Scholarship Program in America
>> Free College Scholarship Search Engines

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