All students are encouraged to apply for outside scholarships. Students are responsible for informing the Financial Aid Office when they are notified of scholarship awards, regardless of whether they are receiving a financial aid package from the College, so that the outside scholarship can be properly noted on the student’s Financial Aid Award Letter and/or Payment Plan and Promissory Note.
If a student receives a scholarship from an organization outside of the College, the scholarship decreases the student’s financial need, and the College could require, in all fairness, that the student apply the outside resource toward his costs before seeking need-based aid from the school, thus decreasing, dollar for dollar, the student’s need-based aid from the College. On the other hand, the College recognizes that the student has put time and effort into qualifying for an outside scholarship and it would be appropriate for the student to receive some benefit from his extra efforts.
In an attempt to acknowledge the justice of both positions, Thomas Aquinas College's outside scholarship policy reduces any need-based aid the student is receiving from the College by 50 percent of the amount of the outside scholarship, while the other 50 percent of the scholarship reduces the family’s scheduled payment. This recognizes that the student has a responsibility to pay for his education while at the same time providing recognition of, and an incentive for, students seeking outside scholarships.
There are some caveats: The College’s 50/50 outside scholarship sharing policy does not apply to any federal or state-funded education benefits, for example, Pell Grants or Cal Grants. Nor does it apply to any employer-provided education benefits. The College is the sole judge of which outside resources are eligible for the 50/50 benefit sharing. The percentage of sharing may need to be adjusted in order to preserve a student’s eligibility for federal or state grants. And finally, the scholarship sharing policy may cause a decrease in the interest subsidy available for a student’s federal Direct Student Loan.
Where can you find outside scholarships and grants?
First, students should check with their state postsecondary education agency to see if their home state’s Higher Education Agency offers any financial assistance.
Second, students should look for scholarships offered by organizations in their local community. You may find scholarships sponsored by your parish, high school, local businesses, or local service organizations such as the Rotary Club, the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus, etc. Learn about the availability of such scholarships by contacting someone from the specific organization or by directly contacting its main headquarters.
Third, students can look for scholarships that are offered by organizations that are located outside of their local community. For that, online scholarship search services can be helpful.
There are many scholarship search services online. Below is a list of several reputable, no-fee services. The best search services are free, so there is no need to spend any money to use a search service. The following list is in alphabetical order, not in any order of preference.
Tip: You may want to set up a separate e-mail address to receive information from these search services and scholarships so that your regular inbox is not filled with advertisements from sponsors. Here are other valuable tips (PDF).
- College Board
- Going Merry
- MEFA Pathway
- U.S. Labor Department Free Search Tool
- Ventura County Community Foundation
A scholarship blog site maintained by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) lists scholarships (many of which can be used in Massachusetts and in California)“, and it posts updates on upcoming deadlines for scholarships.