More students encouraged to apply for scholarships
Scholarships can help students pay for college, but many choose not to apply.
Bill Wagner, president of the Champaign County Sports Car Club, says they haven’t been getting as many applications for their automotive technology scholarship as in the past.
“We have been disappointed over the years in the number of people who apply,” said Wagner. “It’s very difficult for us to get people to apply.”
Kolbi Williford, a sophomore in general studies, says a lack of advertising is part of the problem.
“I feel with the lack of advertising and the fact that many staff don’t talk about them, students aren’t aware they are available or think they aren’t worth it,” Williford said.
However, Haiti Eastin, a financial aid advisor at Parkland College believes it’s definitely in a student’s best interest to apply.
“What I want students to know is if they look at an application and they see they are qualified, they need to apply,” Eastin said. “You never know how many students you’re going up against. You’re going to send out a lot of applications before you might get one. But when the payoffs are $500, $1,000, it is absolutely well worth your time.”
To apply for most scholarships, students have to fill out an application, answer a few short essay questions and have some letters of reference, along with an unofficial transcript.
Eastin said it isn’t necessary to “reinvent the wheel” with every application essay. It is okay to write one essay and tailor it to each application the student sends in, she said
Scholarships can be used for tuition and fees, books, or an open ended scholarship where the student can receive the excess funds to be used for living expenses.
There are three types of scholarships including foundation scholarships, waivers and outside scholarships. Foundation scholarships are from outside donors, usually around the community. Waivers are scholarships such as the Board of Trustees scholarship. Outside scholarships are ones found on search engines such as Fastweb.
“From outside donors, we receive hundreds of scholarships every semester,” Eastin said.
Scholarships through Parkland College can be found on My.Parkland and are available until the due date for the application passes.
“Anything we are made aware of, through external resources or through the Parkland College Foundation goes on that website.” Eastin said.
The busiest periods for scholarships are October 15th to November 15th and March 15th to April 15th.
Eastin said they still get scholarships all year long. “I still tell students to take a look every few weeks and look consistently during the peak application periods.”
Fastweb is the largest national database, offering thousands of scholarships to students. The scholarships there are handled differently than at Parkland.
Many scholarships offered through Parkland require a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be filled out and received by the office, whereas through Fastweb, a FAFSA is rarely a requirement.
“Part of the criteria for the foundation scholarships is some proof of unmet need,” Eastin said. “This is something that is typically verified by the FAFSA.”
Freshman might have a hard time applying for scholarships through the Parkland Portal, as most require some college credit, and this can be frustrating for some students. These students along with dual credit students should talk to their high school guidance counselor, a great resource for freshman scholarships.
Students wishing to learn more about scholarships available to them should visit My.Parkland and click on “Scholarship search” under the Academic Services tab. More information can be obtained in the Financial Aid office, located in U-286 or by calling 217-351-2222.