An untold number of private scholarships are offered by corporations, clubs, civic groups, and other organizations. These awards amount to billions of dollars in scholarship funds to American students each year! Criteria for private scholarships may be academic in nature, such as a certain GPA or ACT score, or they may be based on characteristics of you or your family. For example, you may be able to win a scholarship for being active in a certain club, choosing a particular major, or for participating in community service activities.
Beware of Scams! In your search for money for college, be careful to watch for people who just want your money. If someone asks you to pay for scholarship information, just say no. The information should generally be available without charge through other sources, such as a high school guidance office or the above websites.
Did you win a scholarship? Congratulations! Please be aware that if you do receive a private scholarship, not administered through MTSU, you are required to notify the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office at MTSU. Regardless of the amount of the award, or whether or not the award is paid to you directly by a donor or through the university, you are responsible for insuring that your MTSU Financial Aid file reflects all scholarship funds that your receive.
This is important to insure that you—and we!—don’t inadvertently violate any federal regulations regarding your total eligibility for other forms of financial aid. When you receive notification of any award from a donor other than MTSU, please immediately notify your Enrollment Counselor.
If you receive a private scholarship check that needs to be deposited to your student account at MTSU, we recommend that you submit the scholarship check to us by August 1. We will want to have time to insure that the award can be applied before the Fee Payment Deadline in mid-August.
Do you have a check that was sent to you by the scholarship donor?
- Make sure that the scholarship check has your name and MTSU ID number listed on the Memo at the bottom of the check. If you go by a nickname or your middle name, be sure to provide your legal first name.
- Check to see whether the check is written just to MTSU, or to both MTSU and you. If your name is included in the "Pay to the Order of" line, you will need to endorse the check by signing the back of it.
- Make a copy of your award letter or any information included with the scholarship check (such as a check stub). We will need a copy of this information, but you should also keep a copy for your records.
- Mail the scholarship check and any accompanying paperwork or information to MTSU to
be applied to your account. Send it to us at Financial Aid, SSAC 260, 1301 E. Main
St., Murfreesboro, TN 37132. If you plan to deliver a scholarship letter or check
in person, bring it to the MT One Stop located in the Student Services and Admissions
Building, across from the Student Union.
What happens next?
- We will generally apply the scholarship to your account within two business days. If we experience delays due to issues such as a missing signature, we will notify you via email or phone.
- Through Early December: We will divide the scholarship into two equal portions for fall and spring, unless the scholarship donor provides alternate instructions in an accompanying letter.
- After Early December: We will apply the full scholarship amount to the spring semester, unless the scholarship donor provides alternate instructions in an accompanying letter.
- We will add a message to your RaiderNet account, so that you can see which scholarship
has been applied.
Does the donor wish to mail your scholarship check directly to MTSU? Please ask the donor to follow these directions to ensure efficient processing of your award.
- Please ask the scholarship donor to note your name and MTSU ID number listed in the Memo section at the bottom of the check or in an accompanying letter. If you by a nickname or a middle name, ask the donor to be sure to use your legal first name.
- The check should be made payable to MTSU. If the check is made to both MTSU and the student, you will need to endorse the check by signing the back of it. This may delay your award, as we will have to contact you and ask you to come to campus and sign the check. If the donor must make the check out to you, please follow the instructions above for sending the check to MTSU.
- The donor should include a copy of the award letter, or a cover letter with any instructions we must follow. For example, is the scholarship intended to be applied entirely to the fall semester, or be split between fall and spring?
- The donor should include a contact person's name, phone number, and email address in case we have questions about the scholarship or its requirements.
- The scholarship check and any accompanying paperwork or information should be mailed to MTSU to be applied to your account. Financial Aid, SSAC 260, 1301 E. Main St., Murfreesboro, TN 37132. If the donor would prefer to deliver the scholarship check in person, it should be brought to the MT One Stop located in the Student Services and Admissions Building, across from the Student Union.
- We will mail a receipt letter to the donor, confirming that the scholarship was applied.
During particularly busy times of the year such as the months of July, August, and
January, the receipt letter will be sent approximately one month after the scholarship
check is applied. During other months, the receipt letter will generally be sent within
two weeks after receipt of the scholarship check.
What happens next?
- If you don't see the scholarship applied to your MTSU account as quickly as you expect, please check with the donor to determine when the check was mailed. Allow at least two weeks from this date for the check to arrive and be processed. (Please note that many scholarship donors do not release scholarship checks until after the semester begins!)
- We will generally apply the scholarship to your account within two business days after receiving it from the donor. If we experience delays due to issues such as a missing signature, we will notify you via email or phone.
- We will generally divide the scholarship into two equal portions for fall and spring, unless the scholarship donor provides alternate instructions in an accompanying letter.
- We will add a message to your account, so that you can see which scholarship has been
We recommend that you submit the scholarship check by August 1, if possible, so that the award can be applied before the Fee Payment Deadline in mid-August. If your scholarship check will not be available by August 1, you may request a scholarship deferment. This will let the MTSU Business Office know that we are expecting a scholarship on your behalf, and will help reduce the amount of money you need to pay out-of-pocket by the Fee Payment Deadline. To request a deferment, please complete the following steps:
- Make a copy of your award letter or award certificate. The letter or certificate must include the scholarship name and/or donor's name, as well as the expected scholarship amount.
- Write your full name and MTSU ID number on the letter or certificate, if this information is not already included. If you go by a nickname or your middle name, be sure to provide your legal first name.
- Add a note requesting a scholarship deferment and indicating when you expect the scholarship check to be sent.
- You may fax the letter or certificate to the scholarship staff at 615-494-7770 or mail it to Financial aid, SSAC 260, 1301 E. Main St., Murfreesboro, TN 37132. If you plan to deliver a scholarship letter or check in person, bring it to the MT One Stop located in the Student Services and Admissions Building, across from the Student Union.
- We will generally apply the scholarship deferment to your account within one week of receipt.
- We will generally divide the scholarship deferment into two equal portions for fall and spring, unless the scholarship donor provides alternate instructions in the award letter.
- We will add a message to your RaiderNet account, so that you can see which scholarship has been applied.
- When we receive the actual scholarship check and apply it to your account, we will
cancel the deferment. If we receive only the fall award but are expecting a spring
portion also, we will leave the spring deferment on your account until the spring
scholarship funds are received.
During your junior year in high school, begin searching for scholarships. You may want to register with a free scholarship search Web site to find information about awards that match your profile. When thinking about where to search for scholarships and what to search for, think outside the box. Yes, the internet is a great resource, but so are high school counselors, professors, church youth coordinators and pastors, college financial aid offices and web sites, and local community organizations. Don’t forget to use your contacts!
There are a number of websites devoted to connecting students to potential scholarship opportunities. You might begin your search by looking at any of the following:
- Scholarship Experts
- Careers and Colleges
- Bureau of Indian Education
Making a scholarship game plan
Your first objective in thinking about scholarships is to develop a game plan. Scholarships are often competitive and usually have an application deadline between December and February. For this reason, you should begin your scholarship search in your junior year of high school. Start with the following steps to ensure a successful scholarship search:
- Get Organized: Find a blank spiral notebook and grab a folder. Use the notebook to write down the names of scholarships you find and application deadline dates. You may also want to write down the Web site or location of the scholarship information. Remember, you should start this process during your junior year of high school, and you will want to remember how to get the scholarship applications during your senior year.
- Begin Your Search: Be sure to search for both private scholarships and scholarships offered by MTSU, such as Foundation Scholarships. Keep accurate records of all the scholarships you find.
- Stay Focused: At times you may run into dead ends or may feel as if the search is hopeless. Keep going--something may turn up. There are plenty of scholarships out there. It just takes some endurance!
- Apply, Apply, Apply: Most private scholarship deadlines fall between December and February. Most MTSU Foundation Scholarships have an application deadline of February 15. Have everything ready to mail or submit electronically at least one month before the deadline. Apply for every scholarship for which you meet the criteria. The early bird catches the worm, and the more scholarships for which you apply, the more chances you have to be successful!
- Follow Up: Be sure to follow up on applications that you have submitted. Be persistent, but not overbearing. Following up should keep things from slipping through the paperwork cracks.
- Respond: As soon as an award letter or phone call reaches you with the great news, send that
person or company a thank-you card or letter. You may want to include a photo to personalize
Scholarship essay writing tips
Yes, part of applying for scholarships will involve writing. You’ll need to remember all that you’ve learned so far about writing fluently and professionally. There is not a magical scholarship essay template. It should be all about you! Below are a few do's and don'ts.
- Scholarship committees understand that college is expensive and students may or may not want their parents to pay for it. Many students will place comments like this in their essays, but we recommend that you focus instead on things that will make you stand out from the crowd. Picture this: you are sitting at a desk with a pile of scholarship applications and essays. As you are reading the essays, you make two stacks: 1) The WOW Stack and 2) The "You're like Everyone Else" Stack. You want to be in the WOW stack!
- Include unique details about yourself. You should be your own best advertiser. If you are having a tough time, ask your parents, friends, and teachers what they think about you.
- Guide your essay around the purpose of the scholarship. How does your uniqueness serve the scholarship's purpose?
- Type your essay unless the application requests a handwritten copy. Several people will read your essay (once you make it into the WOW! stack), so use a crisp black font, 10-12 font size, and one inch borders. These are the basics for document formatting.
- Read and re-read your essay. Be sure several people read it for errors.
- Try not to be too lengthy. Unless the guidelines for a scholarship suggest that you write 3 to 4 pages, try to keep your essay to one page.