Navigating the world of scholarship applications can be tough and downright chaotic at times. You have access to thousands of college scholarships, all with various criteria, application processes and deadlines. Michelle Standridge, director of financial aid at Spalding University, and several students with firsthand experience had a lot of advice to help make the application process easier. Apart from the basics (apply on time, be sure the application is complete before submitting, proofread, etc.), there are unique tips that may not be immediately obvious to you.

Steps to Apply for College Scholarships

#1: Remember scholarship searches and applications should always be free.

In this case, spending money to make money is not a good thing. If an organization or application asks you for money, it is most likely a scam; do not apply.

#2: Open a separate email to be used just for scholarship information.

According to Standridge, a lot of scholarship applications are a ploy to get marketing and demographic information. You can use a separate mailbox to help keep your main mailbox free of annoying clutter.

#3: Seek outside scholarships listed on university websites.

“Many schools have a page on their website for outside scholarships. Search via school websites, and let the schools do the work,” said Standridge. “Our (Spalding’s) outside scholarship page lists scholarships that we know are legit; so it weeds out the junk that just an internet search pulls in.” So, be sure to include other institution’s web pages in your research for scholarships.

#4: Apply for scholarships even if you don’t think you’re a match.

This is the most surprising piece of advice as it is usually encouraged to actually meet the eligibility criteria before applying. However, according to Standridge, there have been instances of male students being awarded scholarships intended to female students because no eligible female students applied.

#5: Write a really good essay.

If you’re already in college, find out if your institution has a writing center, and use that as a source to help perfect the general essay. College scholarship applications tend to ask similar questions. It will save you a lot of work to tweak the general essay to the specific scholarship rather than starting from scratch every time.

#6: Think outside the box.

The most common tip from students is to be creative with your research. There are tons of local and national scholarships and contests for a variety of interests and talents. Also, think beyond your basic internet search; social media is a growing way to search for scholarship opportunities.

Figuring out how to pay for college is usually one of the most daunting things for students. It’s important not to get overwhelmed by the sticker price because there are many resources available to help fund your education.

Here are five steps to get the financial aid process going:

Step #1: Map out your finances.

Determine how much you will need to cover the cost of your education. Although tuition is the most obvious cost, don’t forget to factor in books and room and board.

Step #2: Become familiar with the different types of financial aid.

Financial aid comes in many forms and it is important to know the differences between them. For instance, there is a significant difference between merit-based aid and need-based aid. Merit-based aid is determined by academic performance and student achievement. The most common form of merit-based aid is scholarships (see How to Apply for College Scholarships). Need-based aid is determined by the financial need of the student. It’s also important to understand the differences between loans and grants. Grants do not need to be repaid and are usually based on your financial need while loans are borrowed and must be paid back.

Step #3: Fill out the FAFSA early.

The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) determines your eligibility for need-based aid and federal student loans. It is highly recommended that you fill it out as soon as it opens for the best options. “Know that the FAFSA is usually the key to all financial aid and needs to be completed each and every year,” said Michelle Standridge, director of financial aid at Spalding University. “FAFSA now opens on Oct. 1 of the year prior to when the awarding will be.”

Step #4: Contact the financial aid office at your institution.

“The best way to apply for financial aid is to contact the financial aid office by phone or email with questions you have,” said Ethan Thornton, Spalding University student and social media ambassador. “Those people are employed in that office for a reason, and it’s to help you. Reach out and they will answer any questions you have.”

Step #5: Be sure to know which rewards are renewable.

“Ask questions about which awards are renewable and their requirements for renewal so that it is clear if your awards will only be for one year or possibly each year of your program,” said Standridge.

Now that you’ve celebrated your admission to Spalding, you may be thinking, ‘what’s next?’ Well, here’s a simple checklist to make sure you stay on track.

Admitted Student Checklist

Apply for financial assistance – Oct. 1

Starting Oct. 1, you can file your FAFSA using Spalding’s school code:001960. By doing so, you will be automatically considered for Spalding’s endowed scholarships.

Review your financial aid package

With access to grants, loans, scholarships, aid and more, Spalding students rarely pay the full cost of tuition. Once you receive your financial aid award letter from us, make sure to look it over closely to accept or adjust the amount that you want to receive.

Fill out the housing form – Jan. 15

The housing application opens Jan. 15 each year. By completing this form and submitting a non-refundable $100 application fee, you can reserve your spot on campus and provide information that will help us in assigning your roommate.

Make your enrollment deposit – May 1

Your enrollment deposit (by May 1) secures your spot in the Class of #spaldingu2024 and allows you to register for beSU orientation.

Sign up for BeSU orientation

We host several orientation dates prior to your arrival to campus. Check out our beSU webpage to register and get up-to-date information.

Attend beSU orientation

Meet your academic advisor, choose your fall classes and connect with your future classmates, professors and peer mentors.

Attend beSU Engage

Kick-off your on-campus experience with this required 2-day, 2-night program.

Move-in or begin classes – August

Whether you are a student living on campus or commuting to class, we have plenty of Welcome Week activities to kick off your start to college. Stay tuned.

Thank you to Canaan Christian Church for providing the live stream. To watch Spalding’s 2017 Commencement, check back on June 3 at 10 a.m.

We understand that you have a lot of options. The college you choose will play an important role in how you will change over the next four years. As you transition to college, here are 10 things to keep in mind.

  1. Find your community. It will take time to build, but be sure to maintain a supportive network of friends, living  mates and college staff and faculty.
  2. Find a mentor on campus. While many find faculty the most accessible type of mentor, there are many other people who are there to help you – including staff, alumni, coaches and local community members.
  3. Get involved. College is a time to pursue not only your academics goals, but also to explore and engage in various activities and groups that college campuses provide. You just might a new passion.
  4. Live on campus. Studies show that students who live on campus are more successful. Not to mention, you’ll enjoy living on your own without paying for cable, a gym membership or electricity and you’ll never haggle a roommate about paying their portion of the rent.
  5. Get deep. Engage in intellectual discussions with your peers. College is a time to discover new ideals and to open your mind to others’ views of the world.
  6. Study hard, play hard. Find balance in your social and academic pursuits. Sometimes the things you learn while eating cold pizza at 3 am are just as important as what you learn in the classroom.
  7. Get connected. Locate your on-campus support staff. On campus counseling, career development and learning support centers are always ready and willing to help you succeed.
  8. Be money-wise. Many students find that becoming financially independent comes with a new set of temptations and burdens. Seek help in creating a budget and learning how set financial goals.
  9. Take care. It’s easy to neglect your physical health with all of life’s changing demands. Be mindful of your needs. Eat right, get enough sleep and try to be physically active.
  10. Branch out. Keep an open mind. Universities are havens for connecting people of all cultures and backgrounds, many different from your own. Embrace the experience and enjoy getting to know more about the world and people around you.

What makes Spalding unique? We have 5 reasons to keep Spalding at the top of your list.

Our blocks rock

Spalding is the only college in the state of Kentucky to offer a six-week block approach to learning. However you want to achieve your degree, you’ll find success by building a schedule that works for you. Choose to focus on one course at a time, or take on more. You can enroll in up to 18 hours per semester while never taking more than two classes per session. But don’t worry about academic burnout, you can rest and recharge for a full week after every six-week session.

Learn more about our block schedule.

Private education at a public college cost

Spalding is among the most affordable private institutions in the state of Kentucky. Ninety-nine percent of our first-time, full-time students receive financial aid, including scholarships and grants. Our financial aid staff will work closely with you to reduce your out-of-pocket expense, making your investment in private education as affordable, if not more affordable, than a public institution.

Learn more about our scholarship opportunities.

A community of world changers

Our students are changing the world. As the first-certified compassionate university in the world (Compassionate Action Network), we provide a home for students who want to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. We have a long-standing history of serving our community. In fact, our founder Mother Catherine Spalding was a pioneer of education and service in the Louisville area. Become part of this community and become a part of a movement to make the world a better place. 

See our mission.

Your city, your campus

As Louisville’s only downtown university, Spalding is an exciting place to live, learn, work and play. Our small, family-like community enjoys the amenities and beauty of living in a river city that is among the best places to live in the U.S. Our two residence halls make campus living convenient, safe and fun. With our downtown location, you can walk to popular restaurants, events, concerts and entertainment establishments.

A competitive education

Our NCAA Division III Golden Eagle athletic program allows over 200 scholar-athletes to play college sports. Athletes are known for their perseverance, dedication and team-building skills. Combine this with a Spalding education and you will be prepared for success after college.

If athletics isn’t your thing, we offer opportunities for involvement that will build your résumé to give you a competitive edge.

Learn more about our small college in the big city.

And one more reason just because…

An eccentric tradition

Over 45 years ago, one of our professors started our longest-running tradition, The Running of the Rodents, as a stress reliever during finals week. This tradition has been featured on international radio shows and was even a question on the board game Trivial Pursuit. To this day, our students still adopt, train, and race rodents on a miniature track, in a Derby-style race.