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scholarship advice

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.

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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! ;)

 

Four popular fall scholarships...

Four popular fall scholarships...

Fall is here! That means apple cider is back, the leaves are changing color, and people are already talking about Halloween. It also means scholarship programs are looking to give you free money for this school year. To help you get started on those scholarship applications we compiled a list of our popular scholarships with deadlines this fall to get you going. 

Voice of Democracy Scholarship
Award amount: $30,000
Who is eligible: High School
Deadline: November 1

1st place for this scholarship goes to a high school student for an exceptional essay on American democracy to be paid directly to the winner’s future college or university. Other scholarship awards from this program range from $1,000-$16,000. This scholarship is open to all American students from 9th-12th grade.


Scholarship America Dream Award
Award amount: $15,000
Who is eligible: Undergraduate students
Deadline: October 15th 

The purpose of this program is to provide financial support for students while they continue through school. Financial need is a heavily considered and 10 scholarships will be awarded.

Addiction Awareness Scholarship
Award amount: $6,000
Who is eligible: Undergraduate and Graduate students
Deadline: December 22nd 

For those who are passionate about addiction and its effects on both individuals and their wider communities, this essay contest is for you. 2nd and 3rd places are also awarded $3,000 and $2,000 respectively. 


U.S. Bank Scholarship
Award amount: $20,000
Who is eligible: High School and College/University Students
Deadline: October 27th 

This scholarship requires applicants to complete Financial Genius tutorials and awards runners-up $5,000-$10,000. Registration is quick and easy and you get to learn about finances along the way!

These are just five of the programs waiting for you to apply to them. You literally have no excuse. Go get those scholarships now!

Christopher Gray's top tips on how to apply for as many scholarships as possible ...

Christopher Gray's top tips on how to apply for as many scholarships as possible ...

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It’s back to school time and we know college is on your mind, as well as how to pay for it! Luckily, the fall is prime time for scholarships. This is when the biggest scholarships out there are opened up and ready for you to apply to. When I was back in high school, September gave me a bit of a high. Suddenly, I realized that there was so much money out there for me, and I had to find the most efficient way to get it all done and to apply for as many as I could. That being said, here are a few tips to make sure you get to apply for as many scholarships as possible:

  • Recycling scholarship essays is a great way to apply for as many scholarships as possible. Most scholarship essay prompts are similar (or sometimes the same) so I suggest reusing essays as much as you can in order to scale your efforts. I personally won 1.3 million dollars in scholarships,  and for a lot of the scholarships I won I recycled my essays!
     
  • Scholarships that have very specific eligibility requirements are usually easier to win since there will be fewer applicants. The same goes for smaller scholarships that are around $1000-$5000, since many students don’t apply for them thinking they are not meaningful amounts and won't move the needle. Smaller scholarships can add up and really make a difference. Scholly allows our users to sort scholarships by amount and we also have something called the Scholly Score, which lets our users know how competitive the scholarships are. 
     
  • Lastly, you can also reuse the same recommendation letters. It’s terrible when you have finished a scholarship application and at the last minute you need to rush and wait on mentors, teachers, your boss, or whoever to write you a solid recommendation letter. Find the people to write them now and get it done!

Also, Scholly has some new updates in the coming months that will make the scholarship process even more efficient for students. Stay tuned!  :)