My parents made me a good-faith deal after my freshman year of college. They’d do their best to cover my cost of attendance if I made an effort to secure as many scholarships as possible.
With little evidence of financial need, I learned that my best chance at winning gift aid was to focus on merit-based scholarships for journalism.
Here are four ways I found — and won — $11,000 worth of journalism scholarships to stave off student loans.
4 ways to find journalism scholarships
You can have all the latest scholarship tools at your disposal. But knowing where to look for gift aid is only half the battle. You’ll also want to consider what you’ll need to win each scholarship for journalism.
Here are four strategies I used to win money for college — that you can use, too.
1. Seek financial aid through your journalism school
I didn’t spend enough time at my campus financial aid office. But my first stop on the journalism scholarship search was through my college, Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. What I found was a list of 60 scholarships for journalism degrees.
To my surprise, many of these scholarships were merit-based. I could win one even if I didn’t have a high financial need.
I won the school’s lone print journalism opportunity, the Mary Ann and Jack Nock Print Scholarship. It was a perfect fit for me because it rewarded students with high GPAs, and that was one of my strong suits.
To this day, the Nock family scholarship doesn’t show up in online search engines like Fastweb and Unigo. That’s one reason to consult your school even if you’ve skimmed every online scholarship aggregator.
Also, if your school doesn’t have a journalism scholarship opportunity that fits your specific major and strengths, it can point you in the direction of one that can. At Columbia University’s journalism school, for example, 80 percent of students are hooked up with financial aid.
2. Make connections via your internship or job
I had an after-school internship or job during seven of my eight semesters on campus. As paid gigs, they acted as scholarships. After all, they could cover the cost of books or groceries.
But I realized during my sophomore year that these part-time positions could also lead to scholarships. As the sports editor of my school’s daily newspaper, for example, I had a leg up on the competition for one award. My editor in chief encouraged me to apply for the inaugural State Press Alumni Club Scholarship worth $500.
If you have a position on or off campus, see if there’s a way to turn it into a scholarship. Casually mentioning that you’re in the market for financial aid — as I did with my boss at the State Press — could lead to a scholarship. Even if it doesn’t, mention your work experience on other journalism scholarship applications. It could help you win.
3. Win awards for your favorite clips
Including my journalism work experience as well newspaper and magazine awards on scholarship applications strengthened my candidacy. Little did I know that local organizations that reward good journalism often offer scholarships to study it.
That’s how I found my way to the Arizona Press Club and its scholarship. As a junior in 2009, I and two rival University of Arizona students won scholarships for reporting. I won based on a favorite clip in which I profiled a concussed high school football player.
You might think that only your grades or essay-writing ability can score free money for college. But don’t overlook your classwork or published work. If you have worthy clips, they could either win you financial awards — or a journalism scholarship — from your local press club.
4. Write essays to impress national foundations
Most of the in-state scholarships for journalism that I won were worth $1,000 or less. Nothing to sneeze at, for sure, but still short of what I needed to lower the high cost of out-of-state tuition.
Searching online helped me learn about multithousand-dollar awards for aspiring sports journalists. The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, for example, considers candidates from 32 journalism schools. Thankfully, mine was on the list.
At first, I considered my chances of winning one of five $5,000 awards to be pretty slim. After all, the essay prompt — the past, present, and future of sports journalism — was scary in and of itself. I tackled it to the best of my ability and, to my surprise, ended up winning.
The lesson here is to think about how you stand out as a journalism student and seek out organizations that cater to your interests or accomplishments. There are all sorts of reasons you could win scholarships.
If you’re a history buff, for example, you might find yourself writing or recording an audio essay to win the Voice of Democracy Scholarship. The winner receives $30,000 and a trip to the nation’s capital.
Start applying for journalism scholarships
You might begin your scholarship search without a major in mind. But focusing on journalism scholarships can also help you cover your next tuition payment.
But don’t forget about going one level deeper. Apply for journalism scholarships related to your major concentration (such as print, online, or broadcast) and coverage specialty (such as news, features, or sports).
Also, remember that there are scholarships for every kind of student. You might not have amazing grades, but maybe you have some great clips. It’s possible you lack internship experience but can make up for it by writing an awesome scholarship essay.
Whatever your plusses and minuses, consider these sources of scholarships for journalism. Seeking these out helped me put $11,000 toward the cost of my four-year degree. Just imagine how much you could win for yours.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 4/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
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5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.24% – 13.24%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.07% – 11.32%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 11.35%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|6.08% – 7.22%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|