Search for scholarships-  You can start applying for certain scholarships as early as 9th grade. These scholarships are typically one-time awards that are non-renewable and can be used at the college of your choice. The funds are sent directly to the winner and are usually non-taxable. You can apply for this type of scholarship directly, without needing a nomination by your school.

Choose one or two good scholarship database sites, fill out their student profile and review the resulting list of scholarship suggestions. (Never give a site your social security number or banking information.) To apply for a scholarship, you will typically need to submit a written application, often an essay on a specified topic or some other creative submission. Awards range from $250 to $25,000+. There are many good sites, each with their own attributes, but some popular sites are schoolsoup.com, scholarships.com and fastweb.com.

The internet is rife with helpful resources for finding scholarships but there is also an abundance of sites that will use the lure of scholarships to scam people out of money or their personal identity information. Be sure read our free article, Avoid Scholarship Scams, below.

Volunteer- Volunteering is essential to the success of many great causes and also adds to the personal growth of those who volunteer. However, there are added benefits to being an active volunteer while in high school because it can open up a variety of scholarship opportunities. There is a growing and generous category of scholarships available to students who have demonstrated a passion for serving their community.

Whenever possible, look for ways to discern an unmet need and take the initiative to meet it. Such an effort shows leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit in addition to your desire to serve others. (For example, rather than volunteering to deliver Meals on Wheels, which is admirable, how much more would it say about you if you negotiated a program with local grocery stores to donate certain items on a regular basis that could be used for Meals on Wheels to expand their services.)

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