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How to Win Local Scholarships
Local scholarships offer students a fantastic way to fund their education. These scholarships exist to allow organizations, people, and companies to support students in their local community.
One of the best things about local scholarships is that they tend to be the scholarships you are most likely to win. The reason for this is simple: local scholarships exist to support students in their local community. This means that they are less competitive than other broader scholarships.
Local scholarships are sometimes quite specific, and therefore may not always have online applications. This makes them a little bit harder to find, which is actually a good thing for you (because there will most likely be less applicants).
Jump ahead to:
- Who are local scholarships for?
- Finding and applying for local scholarships
- How should I apply for these types of scholarships?
- Are there any downsides to local scholarships?
Keep on reading to learn more about how you can find, apply for, and win local scholarships!
Who are local scholarships for?
Local scholarships aim to support students in a particular town, region, or high school with scholarship dollars. In our experience, these scholarships tend to focus on supporting college-bound high school seniors, though it is possible that you will find scholarships for other grades.
Finding and applying for local scholarships
1. Check with your high school
The first place that you should go to for local scholarships is your high school website or your guidance counselor. Most high schools will provide the most up-to-date information on scholarship opportunities that are specific to your community and school.
If you school uses Naviance, you may be able to search for scholarships within the platform.
Either way, your school website and guidance counselor should be your first stop in your local scholarship search.
2. Identify organizations in your community that may award scholarships
Another great source of local scholarships is organizations in your community. This could include local nonprofits, like Women’s Clubs, or Rotary Clubs, your place of worship, or other local civic organizations. Some private businesses may also award scholarships as a way to give back to the community.
We suggest that you start with the organizations that you are a part or have an affiliate with through your family.
3. Research past scholarships that students at your high school have received
Every year, high schools around the country put together a list of graduates for the commencement program. Sometimes these programs include information such as where the students are attending college or which students won certain awards or scholarships. This was the case at the high school I worked at as a guidance counselor.
The list of awards and scholarships is a fantastic shortcut for finding all of the scholarships that the previous high school class won. If you can get a copy of the program (some of these programs may even be online), you will have a great list of scholarships that you may apply for.
How should I apply for these types of scholarships?
Applying for local scholarships is pretty similar to applying for other scholarships. You will want to start with the scholarships that are most aligned to your “profile” (which includes your background, interests, and experiences). For these types of scholarships, we also suggest that you also start with scholarships where you have a connection to the organization in question. You can also check out our Ultimate Guide to Finding and Winning Scholarships for more advice.
Are there any downsides to local scholarships?
Generally, local scholarship awards will be less lucrative than other scholarship opportunities. Most local scholarships will not be awarding $10,000+ per year to students. Instead, they may be worth $500 to $1,000, which is still valuable and can add up!
Checklist for winning local scholarships
- Look for opportunities through your high school or through community foundations in your area
- Contact people who have attended college and went to your high school and/or grew up in your neighborhood. These can be family friends, students who have returned to your high school to give talks, and more.
- Research the history of your community. For local scholarships, it can never hurt to have a comprehensive knowledge of the community you are applying in. Make sure to figure out how you fit into your community, and use this knowledge to stand out in your application essays.