All the questions you have – and a few you didn’t even know you needed to ask!
Education costs are higher than ever – and as a money-savvy teen, you’ve probably given some thought to how you’ll pay for school. Whether that means college, another year of high school expenses, or any other specialized post-grad pursuits, you’ll want to keep an eye out for scholarships eligible to Ohio students to ease financial burden.
Ahead are some tips, tricks, and guidelines for finding Ohio scholarships and submitting a stellar application!
SEARCHING FOR AN OHIO SCHOLARSHIP
Where to start looking is usually the hardest part – but when it comes to scholarships, there are more out there than you might think. Many colleges, universities, and other educational institutions will offer scholarships themselves. Work your way down the list of schools you are interested in attending and see what scholarships they offer. Usually, their official website will have a section dedicated to financial support options.
Outside of schools themselves, community organizations, publications, and even some companies might offer scholarships. If you participate in any clubs, have a parent who is a member of a union, or live in a community with an active chamber of commerce, see if any of these organizations offer scholarships.
For example, you might not have considered that your credit union offers an annual scholarship! At FFCCU, we offer the IGNITE MY FUTURE SCHOLARSHIP to members of Club Ignite who are involved in community service and volunteering. The best part: even if you are not a current FFCCU member, you can apply. You’ll just need to become a member (which is SUPER easy – just a few clicks). Plus, Club Ignite offers many great perks like the Club Ignite debit card that’s just for teens, free access to the FFCCU digital banking app, 2.00% APY* on your checking account balance, and more, (full details available on our Club Ignite page).
Before you dig in and start writing your essay, check on the eligibility requirements for a particular scholarship. If there are stipulations like a specific grade point average (GPA), you’ll probably need to provide documentation that proves you meet the minimum grade score alongside any writing, work samples, or other submission materials.
Scholarships hosted by schools may cover a range of submission criteria. Some may be solely focused on grades and achievements. Others are earmarked for students pursuing a particular field of study (maybe a STEM field or a specific foreign language, as a few examples). Some may take multiple factors into account.
Eligibility constraints might feel restrictive, but they actually improve your chances of being awarded the funds because they limit the pool of applicants. Look for scholarships with narrow eligibility criteria that you fit to have a better chance of being selected.
Here’s an example of what eligibility guidelines look like for our Ignite My Future Scholarship:
- Currently enrolled in grades 9-12
- Plan to attend a high school, college, trade school, or vocational program in the fall of 2024, where you will incur at least $1,000 in tuition expenses.
- Be a member of FFCCU’s Club Ignite Program. Not yet a member? Just join FFCCU before the scholarship application deadline (which is January 31, 2024). Members between the ages of 13-18 are automatically enrolled in Club Ignite. (Full membership details are here).
ESSAY ESSENTIALS: THE WRITE STUFF
Be prepared to write an evocative essay! While there are some financial awards for students that don’t require essays or have creative submission guidelines, in most cases, Ohio scholarships require that you submit a piece of writing. Here are a few things to keep in mind when crafting your essay:
- Remember your English class basics: a 5 paragraph essay structure with introductory and closing paragraphs and a clear, supported thesis will start you off with a solid foundation.
- To write a powerful essay, it’s a great idea to start with something that will “hook” your audience and then finish with a strong conclusion. If you need more help with writing introductions, just look at some of these great examples.
- Tell a story! Even analytical essay topics are easier to read and will resonate better with an audience if they have a story to tell. Find the excitement, tension, and drama in your answer to the topic question.
- Feel free to brag! Many essay topics are specifically asking about your achievements. Don’t undersell them. Talk about difficulties you overcame, and give examples of your successes and accolades or awards you have received from others.
- Remember to stay on topic! It’s easy to get lost in structure and details, but remember the focus of the essay. Often, scholarship essays pose a question for you to answer. Be certain that every part of your essay supports the answer. If a sentence doesn’t move the reader towards an answer or fill in necessary details, cut it!
- Of course, the most important part is to make it your own with your unique voice. This helps the judges to get to know the real you!
- Proof and proof again! Be sure to proofread your completed essay twice; if you make any significant changes, proofread it again. Have at least one other person, and preferably two, look over your essay for grammar and spelling errors to be sure it all makes sense. While it’s good to proofread your own work, having an outside eye on the page is essential!
To give you an idea of typical essay instructions, here’s what you need for the Ignite My Future Scholarship: Applicants must submit a 400 to 600 word essay describing how you give back to the community.
MAKING THE GRADES
Do you need to have perfect grades to be awarded an Ohio scholarship? Not necessarily! If you’ve flipped through a list of scholarships you’ll notice a range of GPA and other grading requirements. Some scholarships put more focus on the essay, community service hours, or other factors.
Our Ignite My Future Scholarship has a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0. It’s important to remember this number isn’t the most crucial factor! FFCCU is committed to the credit union motto of “people helping people.” We place primary importance on the applicant’s consistent commitment to their community through volunteer activity, as well as the essay response about why the applicant chooses to support the community.
DOES A SCHOLARSHIP MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
When you look at the overall cost of 4 years of college, some scholarships might seem like a drop in the bucket. But remember – every little bit adds up, so earning several smaller scholarships could make a bigger dent than you think. Some smaller award scholarships are also easier to apply for. On top of that, big scholarships will attract much more competition, making them harder to earn.
Don’t just take our word for it: here’s what past Ignite My Future recipient Kristina Telban has to say about the benefits of the scholarship:
“The Ignite My Future scholarship helped me to further my education in art and has allowed me to meet many new people while attending college. I am very grateful for the opportunities that it has provided me.” -Kristina Telban
BE ON TIME WITH DEADLINES
There’s no harm in applying early! It’s easy to get overwhelmed with life, school work, and other responsibilities. You don’t want to put in the research, writing, and proofing only to lose a scholarship due to a late submission! Make a schedule for all of your Ohio scholarships and plan out time to do your writing and editing so that you can submit with days to spare, in case some unforeseen circumstance pushes your plans back.
If you’ve set your sights on applying for the Ignite My Future Scholarship, you still have a few weeks, but hurry; applications are due no later than January 31! Remember to submit before the deadline.
APPLYING TO IGNITE MY FUTURE? GET STARTED NOW!
By now, you know the deal with our Ignite My Future Scholarship – and you have all the advice you need to submit a slam-dunk essay. Now, you just need to get started!
Have further questions? Visit the Ignite My Future Scholarship page for details.
Best of luck with your application!
*APY=Annual Percentage Yield. Visit https://www.ffcommunity.com/checking-accounts/advantage-checking for full terms and conditions.