Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

How Will I Pay for Grad School? Part 2: Scholarships

The Grace Period Must End (246/365)As I mentioned last time, while I got some federal loans, I didn’t want to rely on them if I didn’t have to, so I had to look for alternatives. First, I started looking for scholarships. I found many different avenues to look for scholarships including directly from the university, from a page for military spouses and dependents, from scholarship search sites, and from the American Psychological Association. Today I’ll tell you a little about each of those.

Scholarships From The University

First I checked my university directly, and I recommend doing that if you are already in school are know which one you will be going to. UMUC has a number of scholarships. For most of them, if you’ve filled out your FASFA, they’ll automatically pre-screen you to see if you’re eligible. UMUC-Europe also has a few that you must actively apply for. One is the $700 UMUC-Europe New Student Scholarship which requires a short essay. I don’t know if it differs yearly, but when I applied the questions were about why I picked that school specifically and why I decided to further my education. I did receive that award.

They also have $150 book awards, one for active duty service members and one for family members of active duty service members. These are first-come first served. So far I have received one every semester. I had actually already paid by loan by the time the scholarship and book award came through for fall. Financial aid said the scholarships aren’t refundable or transferable, so what they do is apply the scholarship and then refund the loan money. Either way, I got back $850 after the end of the first fall session.

Day 124Scholarships for Military Spouses and Other Dependents

There are a lot of scholarships open to those who are connected to the military. I am not in the military so I won’t write about the ones only open to service members or veterans for the moment. But I discovered from a flyer at work that there are also some for military spouses and went looking online. I found this one that lists scholarships and grants for spouses and dependents. [Edit: I guess the previous list was moved, but searching for scholarships on that page still brings up links to some.]  MyCAA which I wrote about before wasn’t an option for me, but it is for some spouses, so if you’re a military spouse, check that out to see if you’re eligible.

Scholarships from Scholarship Search Sites

While I did some google searching for scholarship lists, most of the rest of the scholarships I applied to came from scholarship search sites. All the ones I use are free and match you with scholarships based on a profile you fill out. I’ll tell you about Fastweb, MoolahSpot, and Cappex.

Fastweb was the first search site I went to because I remembered using it in high school to look for undergraduate scholarships. They have scholarships for graduate students also. First you fill out a profile including personal and educational info (including your school year and what year you need funding for) and any student activities you’re involved in, as well as any relevant parent activities. The student activities section actually includes more than a student activities list. It also has lists for performing arts, fraternity/sorority, military experience, memberships, and current/previous employers. Make sure you give those a scroll through to see if anything fits. Under Military Experience, in addition to service member options, if you scroll down you’ll see Spouse of Active Air Force/Army/Navy/Marine Personnel.

Saving for CollegeWhen you check your scholarship matches, you can see the name of each scholarship (which links to more info), the amount, the deadline, the type (scholarship, essay contest, academic contest, or promotion), and a status box to answer whether you will/might/will not apply, already applied, or aren’t eligible. If you use the status option, Fastweb organizes your scholarships by tab so you can go back to the ones you want to consider later. Make sure you keep an eye out on the type of scholarship because there are a lot of promotions, which are fine if that’s what you’re looking for, but they can require filling out forms, accepting junk mail, and so on. I usually avoid those.

Overall, I really like Fastweb. It’s pretty easy to navigate, and I like that they clearly label if the scholarship opportunity is actually a promotion. There are a lot of ads when you log in and go to certain pages, mostly from schools. They’re easy to close out, but they are there. If you’re inclined to sign up for Fastweb, please use my referral link as I’ll get put in a drawing for $500. (Just so you all know, I was going to tell you about Fastweb even before I found that out).

Moolah Spot

Moolah Spot is another site I use which also starts off with a profile. On this one, make sure you pay attention to ethnic heritage, religious affiliation, and disabilities. Some things you may not ordinarily consider may be in there and there may be scholarships for people who identify as such. The next page asks questions about your school, future career and your interests, sports, and special circumstances. Pay attention to special circumstances because there are many things in there like disabilities, different parent employments, and so on that there might be scholarships for. Unfortunately you can only select four things for each question.

The next page is for educational scores, and then there are  a few more questions including military affiliation (again, being a spouse of a service member is an option here). The last question on this page asks if you want them to run your profile every month for new matches. I recommend doing this, but you can select no if you just want to do a one-time search. If it’s been awhile since you’ve logged in when you come back, they’ll recommend that you update your profile, which you can do or not do as you choose.

When you get your results, on each one you’ll see action (save or trash, marked by a plus sign and a trash can), the scholarship name with a link to more info, the deadline, the amount, and a spot to rate it. This is a decent site, but I dislike that they don’t tell you if a scholarship is a promotion up front. Sometimes the title will say “Giveaway” in it, but if it doesn’t, it’s annoying to click the scholarship, read the description, and click on the site only to find out at that point that it’s just a promotion. That said, there is some overlap between Fastweb and Moolah Spot, so if you check Fastweb first you’ll probably recognize the names of some of the promos and save yourself a little hassle if you’re just looking for scholarships.

College FundCappex

The profile required for Cappex isn’t as extensive as Fastweb’s or Moolah Spot’s, and doesn’t have as many options as the other ones in some of the categories. In the scholarship list, they put the rank first (based on dollar amount, how much effort it takes, and the amount of competition there will be as determined by Cappex editors), then the scholarship name with the link to more info, followed by the amount, the deadline, the amount of effort in might take, the amount of expected competition, and a status box similar to Fastweb’s where you can select an application status like whether you plan to apply or not, or if you already did.

What’s unique for Cappex is the rating of scholarships by effort and amount of expected competition. These are denoted by a range of pencils from one to four for difficulty (very quick to grueling) and head icons from one to a five (relatively little to heavy) for how much competition to expect. Although this are pretty intuitive to look at them at a glance, when you click on a scholarship for more info, whatever icons are there are explained in more detail. For example, I clicked a random one with three pencils and one head. Below the pencils it said, “This scholarship’s application process may have items such as essays that could take a couple hours” and under the head it said, “This scholarship has a relatively low number of applicants”. I also like that, so far as I have noticed, there aren’t those “promotions” hidden among the scholarships.

American Psychological Association Scholarships

If you are studying psychology, it’s also worth taking a look at the American Psychological Association’s scholarship search  where you can check applicable boxes under Award Topic Area (Clinical, Cognitive, Counseling & Community, etc.), Award Recipient Type (Students-Gradutate, Students-High School and Undergrad, Postdocs, Minorities, Women, etc.), Award Type (Scholarship, Grant, etc.) and Award Sponsor Type (APA, State, Other, etc.) and pick a range for the deadline date. Each of the box areas is optional, so you can subtract criteria as needed if you don’t get many results the first time (or add criteria if you get too many).

So far, the only scholarships that have come through were the ones from UMUC-Europe I told you about at the beginning of this post, but I keep trying. There was one more potential source of income for college I thought of while searching for scholarships: writing contests. I will tell you more about looking for those next time!

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2 Thoughts on “How Will I Pay for Grad School? Part 2: Scholarships

  1. Thanks for the Fastweb hint. I didn’t know about it but I’m glad you mentioned it, I was looking for an overall search engine for scholarships throughout the nation.
    Congratulations on receiving the book award and the $700 award, that’s great news!

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