Viewing entries in
Scholarship Tips

How to Avoid Student Debt in 2019

How to Avoid Student Debt in 2019

Happy New Year from Scholly! It’s 2019 which means new goals, new scholarships, and new opportunities. With college application season all but over, scholarship season is in full swing. It’s our mission to help as many students as possible reach their potential - and that means having access to education. With each year, we strive to propel even more students towards success than the last, so here are some Scholly tips on how to maximize those scholarship applications and avoid student debt in 2019.

File your FAFSA.

Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your first step towards determining your financial aid packages from your schools of choice. The sooner you file your FAFSA, the sooner you’ll know how much assistance you’ll receive from each of your prospective schools, and the sooner you can start planning for your future. Try to finish filing this month if you haven’t already. Filing early will to give you time to take advantage of rolling scholarship opportunities that could supplement your aid.

Check out Scholly.

Log onto Scholly ASAP and check out your new matches. We consistently update our database so that users have a range of scholarships to choose from. Save scholarships to which you would like to apply. Try to save a combination of scholarships with high Scholly Scores and large awards to prioritize your applications.

Now plan your attack. 

Take note of due dates for your saved scholarships and make an application timetable for yourself. Be sure to set realistic goals to give yourself enough time for each application. Some spring scholarship applications are due sooner than others, but a bulk of them tend to be due in March, with another in April. Start early so that you’re not scrambling to apply for scholarships by the time spring break rolls around.

When in doubt, ask!

We understand that scholarship essays can be tricky. Some topics are very broad while others are rather specific, and deciphering what and what not to include can be daunting. Many scholarship programs have a ‘Past Winners’ section where you can see profiles and sometimes essays of previous winners. These sections can help you get an idea of the kind of applications the scholarship program is looking for. Scholly also has an in-app ’Resources’ section with examples of scholarship essays for some extra help.

Edit.

Run your application essays through Scholly Editor! It’s our instant proofreader that scans your writing for both style and grammar mistakes so you can put your best foot forward. Content wise, ask teachers, friends, parents or anyone else in your life whose eyes you think would benefit your application to read your essays. You’d be surprised at how people can pick up on some of your strongest qualities that even you may miss. They can help you articulate those attributes for your applications and make them stronger.  

Lastly, keep going.

The scholarship application process is full of ups and downs. If you’re feeling disappointed about not having won a few scholarships to which you’ve applied, keep trying. There is always another opportunity out there and you are not going to win every scholarship you apply to, but a scholarships is always a better option than a student loan. Remember to stay positive and keep improving upon your applications. If you don’t win an award, you can always reach out to ask for feedback on your application!

2019 is already a big year for Scholly with the launch of our Student Loan Payoff Program in partnership with grownish - and that is just the beginning of exciting things to come for the Scholly community. So Happy New Year, happy applying, and all the best for 2019!

Meet the Student Who Won $142,000 in Scholarships

Meet the Student Who Won $142,000 in Scholarships

 
I’ll never forget that feeling of being on the stage and realizing I could go to my dream school.
— Chika
 

Meet Chika Adiele, a determined college-bound Scholly user from Vegas, NV who won $142,000 in scholarships. Scholly was founded on the ideal of providing an opportunity for all. We stay motivated because of success stories like Chika's. This is how she got that bread: 

Since I was little, I was always told to never worry about paying for college. Then one day during the summer before my senior year, my mom told me that I would have to pay tuition by myself because our financial situation. My dad, the financial breadwinner, had lost everything, and my single mom needed money for other expenses. I was shocked and devastated, but I'm not one to give up easily so I started exploring some options. That’s when I found my solution: scholarships.

In the beginning, the scholarship process was incredibly intimidating and overwhelming. Many websites were terribly organized and barely had any scholarships for me. Then I came across Scholly.

Chika-2-edit.jpg

The website was super user-friendly, matched me with amazing scholarships, and even told me which scholarships best suited me with the Scholly score. I treated applying to scholarships like a part-time job. It was not easy. I went to a dual credit high school which practically made me a full-time college student. On top of my classes, I was the student council president, conducting undergraduate research, doing theater, and volunteering among other things. I’d apply during any spare time I had on the app: rehearsal, between classes, while I was eating, or even during my workouts. The Scholly deadline tracker to kept me on track with applications amidst my crazy schedule.

Over time, applying became easier. I started reusing the same essays and the Scholly blog tips had great advice. What used to take me 2 hours started taking 30-45 minutes. It actually started becoming fun and was a major confidence booster. With the help of Scholly, I applied to over 100 scholarships during my senior year. To top it off, I even got accepted into my dream school: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I still remember the very first major scholarship I won. It was the end of April, and it was from the Rogers Foundation. At this point, the college decision day was a little over a week away. I still didn’t have the funds to go to UNC-Chapel Hill, but I kept a positive attitude. Next thing I knew, I won the grand scholarship of $100,000. I’ll never forget that feeling of being on the stage and realizing I could go to my dream school. My mom was screaming and I teared I was so happy. It got even better. During the next ten days, I won over $40,000 more in outside scholarships. Not only was I able to afford college but could now go practically for free.

I plan on majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish so that I can go to medical school and become a doctor. With the help of scholarships and Scholly, I’m one step closer to my dream.

Congratulations, Chika! The Scholly team is proud of you. 

Have your own Scholly Story to share? Let us know! Still need to make your dreams come true? Join Scholly today! 

How Small Scholarships Can Help You Avoid Student Debt

How Small Scholarships Can Help You Avoid Student Debt

Every spring there are floods of media reports about students winning millions of dollars in scholarships for college. Scholly founder and CEO, Chris Gray, was one of those stories. Chris won over one million dollars to go to college, some of it from big name scholarship programs like the Gate's Foundation and Coca Cola Scholars Foundation. While these large scholarships helped propel Chris to success, it was the smaller scholarship awards that made more of a difference than he expected.

Two hundred and fifty dollars, five hundred dollars, a thousand dollars... every scholarship adds up, and is money you don't have yet. You know what else adds up? Miscellaneous expenses that come with student life. Books, a broken laptop, clothes for an internship interview, emergency travel, tuition for a summer course, storage fees and more will be part of your financial considerations. Financial aid does not cover these expenses. You must pay for them on top of normal tuition, fees, and housings costs that rise each year. Smaller scholarship awards help you pay for the extra expenses.

When you log into Scholly to see new matches, take the time to look into the smaller scholarships. Use the Scholly Score to prioritize your applications. If you're well-matched to a smaller scholarship, go for it! Extra free money hurt no student - trust us. Edit your application essay with Scholly Editor, then apply! You might end up a few hundred dollars richer.

And remember, scholarships are offered all year round! Log into Scholly now and avoid student debt.

How to keep your scholarship money!

How to keep your scholarship money!

Congratulations to all Scholly winners, and any scholarship winners in general! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your hard work paying off and having some of that financial strain eased. However, as a scholarship winner there are some things you REALLY need to know. 

Money from scholarships, grants, and fellowships can count as income, which means these funds can be taxable. And if they are taxable, you need to tell Uncle Sam. Keep reading for a 101 on taxes and scholarships. 

A scholarship/grant/fellowship is tax free if:

  • You are a full-time or part-time student working towards a degree at a primary, secondary, or accredited post-secondary institution

  • The award goes toward tuition and fees to enroll or attend an educational institution

  • The award goes toward fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for your courses

  • Your award will be tax free only if you use it to cover expenses just summarized

A scholarship is taxed if it is used to cover:

  • room and board

  • travel

  • research

  • clerical help

  • fees, books, supplies, and equipment that are not required for the course or attendance

If your scholarship/grant/fellowship goes towards both tuition and room and board, the amount that covers tuition is tax-free and the amount that covers room and board is taxable. Making this adjustment will require you to adjust other parts of your tax return as well.

Say you are filing a deduction for educational expenses, you must subtract the tax-free amount of award money from your deduction. Generally speaking, items required for your course, or course attendance, are not taxable. 

When in Doubt, Ask!

And ask asap. If you don’t know if your award is taxable, ask the scholarship program sponsoring the award. They will likely have information from the IRS about the tax status of your award money.

You can also be your own detective by going over the IRS’s benefits for education: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-benefits-for-education-information-center

Congrats to the winners and happy applying to our scholarship seekers, and if you haven't won yet remember to use Scholly to go make it happen!

Some more scholarship winning tips ...

Some more scholarship winning tips ...

Fall is a great time to apply for scholarships. So in addition to becoming a Scholly member (obvi the best way to find them!) we wanted to share some other tips to help you find scholarship money.

Look in your backyard.

Your local community likely has college scholarships looking for you. Businesses and organizations in your hood want to support your success as a student, so look for them, and put in the work to apply.

Think out of your backyard.

Colleges often want to build geographic diversity. So consider applying to college scholarships to schools in another state.

Manage your online persona.

Your online presence is important to clean up, as it will most def be looked at. Schools consider their scholarship winners a reflection of themselves, so make sure you look buttoned up, ok, ok, at least reasonably presentable! ;)

 

4 Tips to a better Scholarship Essay

4 Tips to a better Scholarship Essay

Sure, everyone know that Scholly helps you find the scholarships looking for you, but that doesn't mean you can just phone in the essay. Here are 4 tips for writing a better scholarship essay:

1. Understand who you're writing it for.

Take some time to know the organization that's offering each scholarship. Review their website, and the company/organization’s vision and positioning — It could make a meaningful difference in what you choose to write about, and how you angle it. Write from your mind and heart, of course, but make sure it's done in a way that will resonate with your audience!

2. Don't start from scratch every time.

You probably already have essays you wrote to get into college. You can find some great starters in them, and can repurpose them into some substantial head starts for your scholarship essays.

3. Edit.

Most essays are short, but you will likely have a lot to say once you get going!  We suggest writing it out long form, and then go through again, highlighting the most critical pieces. Figure out how to make them fit together, and leave the rest on the cutting room floor. You'll be left with all killer and no filler.

4. Proof it, and proof it again!

But don't just take your word for it... send your scholarship essay to your parents and friends. A fresh set of eyes can catch grammar mistakes, typos, or just help make it better!

Hope that's helpful, and don't forget to join Scholly, to help make the search for scholarships easier.