Samantha Leach has loads of similarities with numerous faculty college students: They want loads of cash to pay for faculty, they’re anxious about going into debt, and they should make time to search for scholarships.

Exhausting work, however value it, stated Leach, who begins graduate college this fall at Clemson College searching for her grasp’s in engineering with a deal with biomedical engineering. Her student-loan money owed?


She has paid for faculty fully with free cash — a mixture of scholarships and grants — together with state grants and cash from Clemson. As well as, she expects to pay for graduate college with funds in her 529 faculty financial savings account and fellowship cash, that means she’ll possible begin her profession after faculty debt free.

Whereas many college students aren’t in the identical consolation zone as Leach, dissecting her story exhibits what will be completed with focus, willpower and resilience that allowed her to press on after scholarship rejection letters.

Not that Leach didn’t have hurdles to beat. A local of Raleigh, North Carolina, she was raised by her mom and grandparents after her father handed away when she was younger. Nonetheless, Leach didn’t really feel snug asking them to assist pay for her faculty schooling.

So earlier than beginning her senior yr of highschool, she received severe and began the hunt for cash. Whereas her analysis wasn’t completely digital, she did depend on on-line scholarship clearinghouse instruments similar to, Area of, FastWeb and the Nationwide Society of Excessive Faculty Students.

She wound up making use of for about 50 scholarships, principally “something that I believed I met the standards.” She utilized for native and state scholarships, regional scholarships and among the large nationwide, extremely aggressive awards.

“My mindset was if I didn’t get the scholarship, it was largely as a result of I didn’t match what they had been in search of,” stated Leach, 22. “I’d end a number of extra functions, then go search for a number of extra. It was not value stressing.”

Of fifty functions, she was chosen for about 10 scholarships, together with a number of that robotically renewed if she maintained good grades. One group awarded her $5,000, and a number of other others had been within the $1,500 to $2,000 vary.

Whereas Leach counts herself lucky, she desires different college students to have that very same feeling.

Right here is a few of her recommendation for scholarship success:

Provide you with a analysis plan that fits you.

“There’s not a one-path observe that works,” stated Leach.

For instance, Leach created spreadsheets that allowed her to simply observe utility deadlines, contact info and different particulars.

She likened the analysis and utility course of to “including a further class” her senior yr of highschool.

Get your geese in a row early. The summer time earlier than senior yr of highschool is pretty much as good a time as any to analysis scholarship functions and deadlines.


“Discuss to associates and folks in grades above you to see what labored for them,” Leach stated. “Share data about scholarship packages.”

Be genuine in your utility. Scholarship committees need to know who you might be and why you need the scholarship, Leach stated.

Don’t be afraid to attempt for giant scholarships, however perceive the competitors will be intense. However, she stated, many small awards can be found from organizations in your individual yard — typically with little competitors.

By Riojutt

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