Take the Quiz.
Earn credit towards the earning badge by taking this quiz on what you’ve learned through Funding School with Scholarships at http://go.uillinois.edu/mmmscholarshipsquiz.
Slides for the Funding School with Scholarships webinar can be found at http://go.uillinois.edu/mmmscholarshipsslides.
By participating in at least three Earning Badge-eligible events, you could earn a digital badge to enhance your online professional portfolio. Learn more about the Financial Literacy Badges Program by visiting: badges.illinois.edu/usfsco.
What is a Scholarship?
A scholarship is a specific type of financial aid that you do not have to pay back. Scholarships are often called "gift aid" or a "gift".
Grants are a type of federally funded gift aid. More information about federal grants can be found here.
Scholarships are not instant.
Scholarships must be searched & applied for in advance of needing the money for tuition and fees. It can take several months to get money after a scholarship application has been submitted. Remember that not all applicants will receive the scholarship.
Scholarship Search Process
Scholarships could come from governments, colleges & universities or private organization. Some examples of scholarship sources include:
Explore your personal connections both on & off campus.
You can contact your University's financial aid office, your college and/or department, employers, relatives, churches & other organizations in which you’re involved for potential scholarship opportunities.
Featured Resource: UIC SnAP
Log in: https://uic.academicworks.com/users/sign_in
UIC SnAP is also accessible thru the UIC student portal
In order to receive scholarship consideration, you must fill out & submit the General Application.
Try using your favorite search engine to expand your scholarship search. You can type any word followed by "scholarships" to search.
Additional places to find external scholarships might include:
Beware of Scholarship Fraud
The Federal Trade Commission, which is tasked with protecting consumers from fraud, has recognized an increase in scholarship scams.
There are some legitimate scholarship search companies out there, but there are several that commit fraud by misrepresenting who they are – they may try to say they’re associated with a federal government but are not – or there are those that will take your money for access to scholarships, but never deliver the information.
Here are a few lines that you might find from scholarship scam artists:
- “The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
- "You can't get this information anywhere else."
- "I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."
- "We'll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee."
- "The scholarship will cost some money."
- "You've been selected" by a "national foundation" to receive a scholarship – or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered
In order to avoid scholarship fraud, the US Department of Education encourages scholarship searchers to ask these questions when considering paying for a company to help you find financial aid:
- What’s being offered?
- Is the service going to be worth the money?
- Do the claims seem too good to be true?
As with all types of fraud, if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
Pieces of the Scholarship Application
Scholarship applications often include a personal statement or essay, resume or activity list, transcript, letters of recommendation, FAFSA or other financial information, and other types of information.
One of the most important pieces of the scholarship application is often the personal statement. A strong personal statement will include:
- Involvement – more than just narrating resume
- Your qualifications & characteristics
- Your stories, including challenges you have encountered
- How you have grown & what you have learned
When drafting your personal statement, gain the reader’s attention & present yourself. Consider an anecdote, a theme or a journey.
Eliminate potential hazards within your control.
- Avoid unanswered questions, grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Represent your best, truest self. Innaccurate representation could cost you a scholarship.
- Small amounts add up, so don't overlook smaller-dollar opportunities in favor of solely searching for high-dollar scholarship.
- Remove perceived unfavorable content from social media sites.
- Conducting a scholarship search early & preparing materials ahead of deadlines supports a smoother process.
Every semester, hundreds of students end up unable to register for classes even after receiving a refund. Student account refunds are a result of excess funds (typically financial aid funds) that have been applied to your student account for the current term.
A lot of students want to know when they get their refund, so they can buy books, cover rent expenses if living off campus, or get other supplies necessary for school.
If you are expecting a refund and signed up for direct deposit, it could take 2-3 business days. Business days are Monday through Friday and exclude any bank or federal holidays. It could take several weeks or longer to receive your refund if you didn’t sign up for direct deposit, since a paper check has to be printed and mailed to your permanent address… which, for many students, could be hundreds to thousands of miles away.
If you haven’t signed up for direct deposit, here’s more information on how to do it: https://paymybill.uillinois.edu/refunds/DirectDeposit
There are lots of reasons you could still owe money to the University even after you have received a student account refund... maybe you add a course or change courses that adjust your lab fees after your financial aid has been applied to your account, or maybe your financial aid eligibility changes.
The best way to avoid issues with any of these things is to regularly check your student account balance and any time that University Student Financial Services & Cashier Operations, or USFSCO, sends you an email about your account activity.
Do not ignore messages from USFSCO. Doing so could prevent you from being able to register for classes and complete your degree.
Understand Your Refund
We are running an Understand Your Refund challenge until March 15 where you can take a quiz about your student account refund knowledge and enter to win one of five $25 gift cards. We will do a drawing at the end of March to decide the winners and email you if you win!
Scholarships & Taxes
According to the IRS, how you use your scholarship money can affect whether or not they are considered taxable income.
Both fellowship funds & scholarships could be taxable based on current tax code law: https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc421
They must be used for “qualifying” expenses in order to be exempt from taxation. For example, buying a smartphone with your scholarship could make that portion of the scholarship taxable, and amounts used for room & board could also be taxable in gross income also.
Taxes can be confusing, and with the changes in the current tax code, we’d like to leave you with a few resources to help you manage tax time this year and any future tax time issues you might run into.
This is an Earning Badge Eligible Program.