May 1, 2011

How to Secure Grants and Scholarships for Academic Programmes

Securing Grants and Scholarships

Many young people have had to drop out of schools at critical age and stage when their parents can no longer cope with the burden of school fees, cost of books and other vital things needed to complete the studies.

Tuition fees are not chicken fees. And they are not stable either. Indeed, they are always on the increase.

Some parents currently have two to four children; others have more enrolled in private nursery/primary schools, colleges and tertiary institutions. And for workers earning below N30,000 per month, it will take a miracle to accommodate such education expenditure in the daily needs of the family.

Some young people have had to combine work with studies without the approval of their employers. Regrettably, they hardly excel in school, just as their supervisors find them wanting in the smallest of tasks that may be assigned to them.

Ways to fund that education

Finance experts say, despite the current financial difficulties, the children do not have to drop out of schools. There are high scholarship prospects for brilliant pupils/students at any stage of their academic life, they stress.

One of the most practical ways of funding the education of children, they contend, is through systematic savings. Several commercial banks have special accounts or products designed to cater for this purpose. For instance, the United Bank of Africa Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Intercontinental Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc offer different products in this area.

For immediate need, interest-free loans are also offered by some financial institutions to enable people to pay their way through schools. Beneficiaries, according to, have to pay back the loans, “but you have to use the money while you’re going to school, so the money is free for now.”

Scholarship awards also offer the financial aid required for people to further their education.

Scholarships and scholarship awards

While some scholarships are awarded by persons or organisations to brilliant children or students that have excelled in some given tasks/tests, they can also be need-based and career-specific, says an online specialist,

There are scores of scholarships for any child found to be exceptionally brilliant in school, a star in any major sporting event, or showing outstanding leadership qualities.

Many local organisations such as Lions Club and Rotary Club dole out a number of scholarships and grants every year to outstanding students and indigent scholars.

You need to search them out and apply for as many as you qualify for. Parents can also do this for their children. They are advised to pay close attention to deadlines. You may be disqualified for missing a deadline.

The first task for anyone seeking an immediate financial aid for educational purpose is to do a thoorough research of where relevant scholarships are available. You are expected to look everywhere for those being offered by companies, unions, community organisations and religious bodies.

“It is typical for persons to find scholarships in their home region. Information on these can be found by asking local persons and organisations. Typically, these are less competitive as the eligible population is smaller, notes

Some colleges and universities may have funds to finance the studies of brilliant students at every stage of their programme in the school. A student must be among the best in his class or group to be eligible for the scholarship award.

You can find out about this while preparing to enroll in the college or university. The information about available scholarships and grants can be obtained at the various schools for interested applicants and parents.

Indigenes of oil producing areas stand better chance of winning scholarships provided by multinational oil companies such as Shell and Total than their counterparts from other parts of the country.

Understand the conditions of an award

You may be required to have certain high grade or score or point to qualify; some are expected to be part of a sporting team or win certain medal.

Besides, it is important to keep your grades up and be a well-rounded student while in high school and college. Even when you don’t have a financial need, it is a thing of pride to win a scholarship for having a high Grade Point Average.

You should also note that some schools offering scholarships expect you to keep your grades up throughout the duration of the academic programme. And they demonstrate this by giving the award each semester or school year.

More ways to obtain funding, as recommended by

  1. Inform everybody you need help: some members of your family, friends, teachers and others in your community are great resources because they may know something you do not.
    You may ask your boss or a colleague in the office that is close to you. Students with a job should check with their employer to see if the company offers scholarship opportunities for employees who meet certain financial or educational requirements.
  2. You can also make use of free scholarship directories offered by reputable organisations to broaden your searches.
  3. The high school guidance counsellors can also be of a great help. They generally know about many local, state and national scholarships and competitions that are available to students. Many materials on scholarship opportunities sent to each school or found by researchers and school heads are usually sent to the school chancellors, expecting that they will be passed down to the students.
    You can ask them “to be on the lookout for certain types of grants and scholarships if you have a special interest. Some counsellors also might have a general application that can be used for several scholarship or grant opportunities.”
  4. Interested scholarship seekers are enjoined to check with governmental agencies and local community organisations. Some of them may sponsor students or offer scholarship opportunities for those who apply.
  5. Search the web: The web is filled with opportunities for free grants and scholarships, especially international awards.
    Apply for any opportunity you find. Even if you aren’t fully qualified, fill out an application or ask for a shot -- you may be the only one who applies for the scholarship or you may outperform another contestant.
  6. Broaden your search beyond grants and scholarships. Look for essay contests and other competitions you may be good at to cover your educational costs.
You are well advised to watch out for scams. Never send in money, and never give out personal information to a group or person that you don’t know is an official source.

Make sure you know that the money you are offered is free and doesn’t require you to pay it back; some grants and financial aid are only loaned to students and must be paid back, often time with interest, upon graduation or leaving college.

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