Scholarship Tips and Information

There are basically two types of scholarships. The first type are scholarships that colleges and universities give to good students as inducements to choose to attend their school. These scholarships are strictly for students with high GPAs and good standardized test scores. You usually apply for these scholarships simply by applying to the school, although you should check with your school of choice to make sure. Also, specific colleges and departments within a large university may have additional scholarships available that you need to apply for separately.

The second type of scholarship is the private scholarship. A foundation, a company, a non-profit organization, or a church group may create a scholarship and set any criteria they like. They could ask for an essay, a speech, community service, leadership, or anything else they wish. They could decide that only left-handers qualify for the scholarship, or only students from particular schools, or of a particular ethnic origin. Each scholarship is unique, and the qualifying and submission criteria are too.

College and University Scholarships

For most college and university scholarships, all you have to do is apply to the school itself. The school’s computer will then sort you according to their pre-set criteria. If your GPA and ACT or SAT scores are high enough, you will automatically be considered for their scholarships. For the in-state universities, there are four levels of scholarships:

1. Deans Scholarship = partial tuition
2. University Scholarship = partial tuition
3. Provost Scholarship = partial tuition
4. Presidential Scholarship = partial to full tuition plus a little extra

The criteria for the above scholarships change from year to year. Some years it’s easier to get these scholarships, and other years it’s harder. Your best bet to getting them is to have a high GPA and high test scores.

Out-of-state schools will also have similar scholarships, but they may be called by different names. Always visit the scholarship and financial aid webpages of schools you are considering, whether in-state or out-of-state. There may be extra steps you have to take in order to qualify for certain scholarships.

Within the universities, each college and department will often have special scholarships. If you know you want to major in mechanical engineering at ASU, for example, check out the website for ASU’s Fulton College of Engineering. There might be a scholarship or two for which you can apply. This is true for many departments and colleges in schools across the country.

The community colleges also have scholarships. Below are listed a couple of specific ones, but be sure to visit the scholarship and financial aid websites of your specific school. You never know if you might find the scholarship just right for you!

The Maricopa County Community College District offers the Presidents’ Scholarship, which is equal to full tuition for four semesters, up to 15 credits a semester. Students who are in the top 20% of their graduating class from a Maricopa county high school (or are in the top 20% at any point in their last three semesters of high school) qualify for this scholarship. Alternately, students can score well on the college placement exams and also receive this scholarship. Please see Mesa Community College’s page about the scholarship for more information.

In addition, check out Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation scholarship application page and Maricopa Community Colleges publicly funded scholarships site.

Northland Pioneer College also has a President’s Scholars Program. This scholarship funds two full years of college at NPC, including books and some expenses. To be eligible, students must graduate in the top 20% of their class, have at least a 3.5 GPA, and reside in Navajo or Apache county. Applications should be submitted before the first week of April each year. You can find information and the application at the official website: President’s Scholars.

Scholarship Tips

The following are some tips for looking and qualifying for scholarships. If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Newsom.

1. Get good grades! No matter what anyone says, grades do matter. If you have a good or great GPA, getting scholarships will be a lot easier than if you only have a fair GPA. You can improve your GPA by retaking classes you may have failed or passed with a poor grade.

2. You do not have to be an exceptional student to get a scholarship. This may seem like a contradiction of number one above, but it’s really not. Yes, GPA matters, but so do extracurricular activities, community service, hobbies, interests, essay-writing, and so forth. No matter who you are, there is a scholarship for which you could qualify. Good grades just make it easier, but there are some scholarships that do not ask about grades at all.

3. Start early. Apply for scholarships in your freshman year of high school. There are plenty of scholarships available to high school students of all grade levels. Also keep in mind that your freshman year counts more than your senior year because your senior year is usually not on your transcript when you apply for scholarships and to colleges.

4. Apply at the right time. In other words, don’t procrastinate! Scholarship deadlines usually fall from October to March. Look for scholarships year-round, but be prepared to apply for many more during the fall and winter. Private organizations do not arbitrarily assign deadlines for their scholarships. They want enough time to evaluate all the candidates for their scholarship, and they want to notify winners before their high school graduations. Also, submit your applications early rather than just barely on time. It looks much better.

5. Pay attention to details! Read all the instructions. Do not allow your hard work to be thrown away simply because you did not follow the directions. If you do not follow the application’s directions precisely, your application will be discarded.

6. You do not have to go to a four-year university to receive a scholarship. Are you planning on going to community college or a trade or technical school? How about cosmetology school? Whatever your dreams, if you plan to pursue any sort of formal education after graduation, there’s a scholarship for you. Many scholarships are not just for students going to big universities.

7. Avoid Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams. You never have to pay money to receive a scholarship, aside from possibly postage to mail in your application. Also beware if you are told you won a scholarship for which you did not apply. It’s most likely a scam. For more information on avoiding scams, visit this site: Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams.

8. Take rigorous courses. Colleges and scholarship committees look at GPA, but they also look at the courses you take. A “B” in an AP or honors course means more than an “A” in a keyboarding course. Yes, go ahead and take the keyboarding course, but also take some tougher courses, too.

9. Don’t be afraid to search for scholarships yourself. The counselor is here to help you. Feel free to contact her for assistance. However, there is much you can do on your own, too. You know better than anyone else what your talents and interests are. Seek out scholarships for which you may be uniquely qualified.

10. Take the PSAT in October of your junior year. Every college-bound sophomore and junior should take the PSAT, which is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. While only juniors can enter the National Merit Scholarship competition, it is good practice for sophomores to take it as well. Both UofA and ASU offer very generous scholarships of between $12,000 to $18,000 a year to National Merit Semi-Finalists and Finalists. That is more than the Presidental Scholarship at both schools! The only way to enter the scholarship competition is to take the test.


There are many legitimate scholarship databases, according to the Federal Trade Commission, but there are also scores of fraudulent ones. Each year, thousands of families get bilked out of the fees they pay these official-looking websites and offline services. The FTC says to watch out for:

1. A company that guarantees a scholarship or your money back, or that says it will do all the work;

2. Scholarship services that charge fees for their listings or claim to have exclusive information; and

3. Services that ask for a credit card number or say you are a “finalist” in a contest you didn’t enter.