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How to Find & Apply for Local Scholarships

May 1, 2018

After months of researching, touring, and applying to schools, you’ve finally selected the college you’ll be attending in the Fall! While you are most likely very excited to start this next chapter, it can be very overwhelming financially. On top of tuition, students must account for housing, meal plans, textbooks, supplies, and more. It adds up quickly!

The good news is that college scholarships are everywhere. You just need to know where to look for them. While it’s easy to get lost online with the thousands of national scholarships, local scholarships are a valuable and more accessible option for funding your education. Students tend to discount local scholarships because of their smaller awards, but with that comes a smaller applicant pool and less competition, increasing your odds. Remember, every little bit counts when it comes to financing your college education! As you search for local scholarships, check out these 4 places first:

  1. High School Guidance Office: If you haven’t visited your high school’s guidance office yet, you’re missing out! Your guidance or college counselor has worked with hundreds of students just like you to plan and prepare for college, making them pros when it comes to scholarship searching. For many local businesses and organizations offering scholarships, the high school guidance office is the first place they go to when promoting their opportunities. Not only will counselors be able to provide you with a list of all the local scholarships they are aware of, they’ll also be able to assist you in searching for alternative funding options.

  2. Local Organizations: Do you belong to a local group or organization? Check with them to see if any scholarship opportunities are available to members. In addition, several national organizations offer annual scholarships through their local chapters. For example, local chapters of the Lions Club or the Rotary Club typically offer scholarships to local students, even if you don’t know a member.

  3. Bulletin Boards & Newspapers: It may seem old-fashioned, but there’s still a lot of valuable information that can be found in your local newspaper or on a bulletin board in a local shop. Check them out every week or so to see if any opportunities pop up.

  4. Employers: Several companies offer educational scholarships and other financial assistance programs to their employees and children of employees. Ask your parents to check in with their HR Department to see if any scholarship opportunities are available. It never hurts to ask.

Once you’ve compiled a list of scholarships you’re a good match for, it’s time to apply. Keep these three tips in mind to make sure you’re staying on track:

Create a scholarship calendar
Many scholarships have different deadlines, making it easy to get confused about which one is due when. Scholarships typically have strict deadlines, so it’s important to stay organized and ensure everything is submitted on time. It’s a great idea to add all the scholarships you are applying for to your calendar on your phone or computer. Set up reminders for a few days before the deadline to ensure you are staying on track.

Wow the panel with your essay
Your application essay is your time to shine. After carefully reviewing the instructions, create an outline for everything you want to highlight. Once you’ve finished drafting the essay, have teachers and family members proofread it; the more eyes on it, the better!

Save copies of your applications
After finalizing a scholarship application, keep a copy for your records. You might be able to reuse components from past questions or essays for other scholarship applications. This will save you a lot of time, allowing you to apply for even more scholarships and increase your odds. In addition, keeping a copy will save you time and stress from starting from scratch if it was accidently deleted or lost in the mail.

Remember, it’s never too early to start applying. The scholarship search may seem like a daunting and overwhelming process, but with a little extra time and organization upfront, you’ll be on the right track towards winning those awards and reducing your out-of-pocket college expenses.

Jim Oosterman is the Senior Vice President of Melrose Bank. He can be reached by telephone at 781-665-2500, online at or on Facebook at

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