Students get help applying for scholarships from their counselors. Photo by Vincent Crosbie
The morning bulletin announced “free money is available,” which got the attention of seniors planning for college. That announcement referred to the Scholarship Workshops that were held on Jan. 13 and Feb. 5 in the library during Study Hall to give students the opportunity to ask questions about different scholarships they could potentially receive.
Students can apply for all kinds of scholarships, which can help dramatically reduce the costs of college. There are local, national, and even international scholarships available, but some students need help figuring out how to apply for all that money. When applying for a scholarship, students must follow certain guidelines and requirements. Depending on their future career goals, students can apply for scholarships based on their interests. In order to apply for a scholarship, students must also fill out a scholarship packet provided by the counseling office.
According to AHS counselors Ms. Hurni and Ms. Beck, some of the most helpful information at the workshop was, “...how to organize the formatting on a document, where to locate the student's GPA in Aeries, and how to log in to certain portals.” The most common mistake seniors make when applying for scholarships is waiting until the last minute. The counseling department here at Atascadero High encourages students to provide a person they want a letter of recommendation from at least two weeks notice so they can write a strong letter. Letters of recommendation can come from counselors, teachers, coaches, and community members.
Atascadero Local Scholarships are also available for students attending community college and students interested in a business career. Scholarships require a particular application form, and some require letters of recommendation or personal essays. Ms. Hurni reminded students to, “Give themselves ample time to ensure they've completed all of the requirements thoroughly.” During the workshop, counselors helped seniors with their applications and answered any questions students had.
Ms. Beck reminded seniors that, “Before each year of college, students should apply for federal grants, work-study, and loans with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Colleges use students’ FAFSA data to determine their federal aid eligibility. Many states and colleges use FAFSA data to award their own aid. The FAFSA is required for many scholarships, including the Cuesta Promise, which provides local students two free years of tuition to Cuesta College.”
AHS’s counselors recommend most for seniors apply for several scholarships, including the Local Scholarship; that form is due on March 4. Counselors also recommend the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo scholarships because they are also awarded to SLO County locals. The deadline for applying for those scholarships was February 2. Many AHS students receive one or more local scholarships as that applicant pool is smaller than state or national scholarships.
Ms. Beck and Ms. Hurni both wanted to remind students that, “Scholarships award students FREE money that they don't repay! When students dedicate the time to filling out an application, they have an opportunity to be awarded money that can help with tuition, books, and even school supplies like a computer.”