The Four Do’s and Do Not’s of Online Degree Scholarships

Scholarships are a fantastic way to help pay for, or at least supplement, your college education; there really are no inexpensive online degree programs. With free online degree scholarships you can get anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to tens of thousands, all money dedicated to helping you completed your degree. While scholarships are plentiful and incredible, they can also be difficult to find, hard to earn and a challenge to keep. As you look for online degree scholarships, remember the following four do's and do not's of finding, getting and keeping your scholarship.

1.       DO NOT be sucked into a scam.

Never pay anybody to find you a scholarship. Any legitimate educational service that wants to see you succeed will not ask for money to locate scholarships. Those who do are untrustworthy and more likely are better at parting people with their money than uniting them with a scholarship. However, do use online scholarship search tools that are free; these can help you sort through the thousands of scholarship opportunities that are out there.

Also, do not be sucked into promises of fake scholarships. Never give out information any more private than your name, address and GPA , and never pay an application fee, finding fee, service fee or anything else. One last note on this one, I have searched the Internet high and low, and have asked many people that I work with in online education - to my knowledge there is no such thing as online degree scholarships, that is scholarships that are only for people pursuing online degrees. The exception to this is that some online universities have their own scholarships; always check with the financial aid department of every school you are considering and ask what type of school specific scholarships they may have.  This could even help you choose the right school.

2.       DO apply only for scholarships that you qualify for.

In many areas of life it is good to cast a wide net, applying for everything in the hope that you get one of them. However, with scholarships this can actually reduce your chances of getting money if you are not careful. It also causes unnecessary extra work for you and the scholarship committees or organizations.

Only apply for scholarships where you meet all of the requirements. For example, if a scholarship is only for women seeking degrees in journalism, do not apply if you are a man, or if you are seeking a degree in poetry. The committee will reject you and you will have wasted everyone's time. Furthermore, every application is very different and you will need to write your essay to focus on that particular scholarship. If you are applying to many scholarships you will be tempted to reuse the same essay, which will not be effective.

3.       DO get meaningful references.

Include references with your scholarship applications, as directed. When you choose references, try to get ones that are meaningful, not simple brief statements that say "I recommend this person." Ask the person writing the references to be specific, pointing out things in your personality or experience that make you a particularly good candidate for this scholarship.

4.       DO NOT drop or fail your courses.

Many online degree scholarships will include a clause that requires you to earn certain grades in order to keep the scholarship for the following semester or year. Some can even require that you pay the scholarship money back if you do not pass all of your courses. Be sure that you read the fine print and know what you are agreeing to before you take a penny.

Have you earned a scholarship for your online degree program?

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