Create Your Own Scholarships and Student Funding

April 4, 2019
Maya Mundell

I know, you’re probably wondering how in the world can students possibly “create” their own scholarships. And I promise you that I’m not presenting any gimmicks or tricks, just resourceful and effective alternative methods to fund your education. So, let’s get started.

Here are 4 methods that you can use to cover your university expenses.
1. Reach out to your university’s rich alumni. Many alumni actively seek out and sponsor students who are accepted into their alma maters and who need financial help to attend. Sometimes alumni donate money specifically to students who come from similar backgrounds as them or who share common interests. For example, I know several Cornell alumni who donated money to fund students who were specifically dedicated to public service. I was also lucky enough to be awarded several scholarships sponsored by alumni when I was an undergraduate student. Another way alumni help students fund their education is by placing them in paid internships at the companies and businesses they are affiliated with. Alumni who have a strong sense of university pride will often go out of their way to help and hire students from their universities. Always remember that closed mouths don’t get fed . Get in touch with your university’s alumni network and leverage that shared school pride that you and older alumni have in order to find and create sources of educational funding (or even work/internship opportunities).
2. Assist and build strong relationships with your professors. Professors and other university faculty  members can be your greatest resources and advocates when it comes to finding money and creating opportunities to fund your education. For example, I approached an Arabic professor and asked if I could be her research and teaching assistant. She agreed and then requested funding from her academic department in order to pay me for my work.   Because I was being paid from her academic department, I was also able to keep and earn my work-study funding by working in another position on campus. Another example is when an academic advisor directed me to several fellowships that few students knew about. I applied to these programs and was awarded the funding. You just never know what type of funding is available or what type of funding your professors and other university faculty have access to. Oftentimes, this student money isn’t given in the form of an official scholarship. Get a head start on searching for funding opportunities via your school’s faculty—I bet you that most students aren’t doing this.
3. Request support from your major/academic department. A friend of mine from college received a stipend-like grant from her major department in order to participate in an internship abroad. As a Near Eastern Studies major, she had received an internship offer from the United Nations office in Jordan. Since she didn’t want to miss out on this rare opportunity, she asked her professor (who was conveniently also one of the heads of her major department) for financial support so she could cover her expenses while she worked as an unpaid intern in Jordan. The professor followed through for her and secured departmental funds for her internship. Had she not directly sought support from her major department and her professor, she would have had to pass on an amazing work opportunity related to her academic major. Take my friend’s lead; approach your academic major department and ask about additional funding opportunities for your education and educational pursuits.
4. Request support from any organizations or affinity groups that you are involved in or have access to. Are you a part of any volunteer, religious, or community organizations? Start with reaching out to all of the academic and non-academic support groups and networks that you were or are currently involved with. Many religious groups, community centers, and clubs offer scholarships and other forms of funding to their young members and even to students who aren’t affiliated with their groups. For example, a friend from my high school and I were awarded several checks (not formal scholarships) from our hometown civic leagues and sorority associations. These organizations awarded us for being actively involved in our community and heard about us from our feature in a local newspaper. We had absolutely no affiliation with these organizations. Students and parents should also try reaching out to their family’s current employers and companies. Many businesses and companies conduct “adopt a student” programs and choose noteworthy students to sponsor.
Definitely, give these methods of creating your own “scholarships” and student funding a try. Due to the unorthodox nature of these methods, you’ll probably have to make several attempts and ask for funding in different ways. Always remember that staying persistent always increases your chances of being awarded funding because “success is inevitable for those who don’t give up.”
As always, best of luck and reach out if you have any questions and/or need advice.

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