Q: If Applications for CFO-administered scholarships aren’t available until February 1st; what can I be doing now to support my son/daughter in facilitating the scholarship process?
A: Consider any/all of the following:
1. Make an appointment to talk with your high school counselor about schools and scholarships — the earlier the better! They are a GREAT source of information – and can help you navigate the application process.
2. Visit the colleges/universities or vocational/tech schools of interest and meet with their personnel in Financial Aid, as well as Advisors and Teachers/Professors. Let them know your needs.
3. Organize all tax documentation in order for the FAFSA-EFC to be applied for a.s.a.p. after the first of the new year. (There’s a link on the CFO site.) Virtually ALL scholarships, as well as all colleges/universities, require this documentation for determining financial need. FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – your Expected Family Contribution. It’s a number assigned to the student based on family income, estimating the amount the family can be ‘expected’ to contribute to the student’s educational needs. The smaller the number, the greater the financial need. When one applies, an EFC confirmation page is received. That page containing the EFC number will need to be included with hardcopy Applications or scanned and attached to the online CFO Applications.
4. Even though the scholarships are not fully updated until February 1st – look over the Criteria (the eligibility requirements) for the various scholarships listed under the city/high school your child attends, and determine those for which they might qualify. The Criteria changes very little from year to year; whereas the number of scholarships, amount granted and the due date vary.
5. Be thinking about specific people who could potentially write letters of recommendation – other than family members, of course. And be sure to request multiple copies, or permission to duplicate the letter!
6. Have your son/daughter begin writing a basic essay about their future plans, why they are choosing to major in ‘X,’ and how a scholarship would support them in meeting their goals. Save that essay template in a Microsoft Word doc. Most scholarship essay questions have some variation on those topics. They can then readily adapt their essay, accordingly, for each specific application.
Q: If they don’t meet ALL the Criteria for a scholarship, should they apply?
A: NO! It’s a waste of time, because the very first Applicant who does meet all the Criteria will knock them out of the competition. That said, if they meet all the Criteria but, “… a preference for ‘X’ ” – they may want to consider applying, because that one specific preference may not be met within a given group of Applicants.
Q: Should my son/daughter spend time applying for smaller scholarships?
A: YES! There is far less competition for smaller scholarships – and their totals mount up quickly. Unless Applicants rank in the very top percentiles to compete, academically, for a $5,000.00 renewable scholarship – the twenty minutes it takes to fill out the App for a $500.00 scholarship, is the equivalent of making $1,500.00 an hour!
Q: What does a standard application usually require?
A: Some combination of the following:
1. An official transcript w/the student’s cumulative GPA
2. Class rank (top 10% required for most)
3. Official attendance record
4. ACT or SAT scores
5. Financial need (as verified by FAFSA-EFC confirmation form)
6. List of participation in clubs, activities, service organizations, honors, etc.
7. Letter(s) of recommendation
8. An essay (usually one-page, topic varies)
May also require:
1. Having a “preferred” major or degree program
2. Being accepted into a particular degree program and/or a named college
3. Specific number of years of residency/attendance
4. Proof of membership in an organization, service in the military, etc.
Q: Any other tips on preparing an Application?
A: Consider each Application like a written job interview! “Dress up” and make a good first impression:
1. Keep the Application free of excessive creases and food/beverage stains.
2. Answer each question fully, using correct grammar and complete sentences. And if the directive is a, “… 500-word essay” – make sure you write a full 500-word essay. Selection Committees pay particular attention to how well each Applicant follows the respective scholarship instructions.
3. Write out the names of organizations or school/community programs, if you think the Selection Committee might not be familiar with their abbreviations.
4. Write carefully and legibly in ink. Entries like your e-mail, street address and phone number are especially critical to our contacting you for additional information and/or notifying you re: your selection as a scholarship recipient! And be sure the e-mail you enter on the Application is one that you check frequently.
5. Send everything together in ONE envelope (unless otherwise directed) collated as requested on the Application.
6. Use a manila envelope for mailing, unless the Application can fold easily into a #10 business envelope.
7. And make special note of the DEADLINE. Assume it is ‘received by’ the deadline – not ‘postmarked by ‘– unless it reads as such in the instructions.
Q: How is your website directory organized?
A: Eligibility for CFO scholarships is most often determined by residency in a particular city or county in Missouri. Browse the CFO directory under ‘CITIES’ – and select your city and/or high school OR if your city is not listed, look at the scholarships listed under the first choice ,‘All students in SM MO’ – any student living in Southwest Missouri can apply, providing they meet the criteria.
TO NAVIGATE the CFO WEBSITE:
Go to www.cfozarks.org/scholarships
1. On the home page, in center column below picture, click on “CFO Scholarships”
2. Next page – click on the large type “Browse Scholarships”
3. Next page – where it says “Search by CITY” – select the city of YOUR school – click “Search” [If you don’t find your city, click on the first choice “All SW MO high schools” Any student in Southwest Missouri can apply, if they meet criteria.]
4. See ALL available scholarships for your school – including those that are open to all students in SW MO
5. The correct number /amount / deadline will be updated for each scholarship as of February 1st
Q: When and how are the Scholarship Recipients notified?
A: By Award Letter in mid-April into May. (Note: Some schools may not announce the recipients until after their respective award ceremonies or graduation.)
Q: How do we start the payment process for the scholarship?
A: Instructions to ‘activate’ the scholarship for payment are sent with each scholarship Award Letter. The Recipient will be sent to the CFO website and linked to our online scholarship program, SmarterSelect to complete the ‘Activation Application.’ We will need a copy of the recipient’s Fall class schedule, showing the NUMBER OF CREDIT HOURS for which they are enrolled. [Must be enrolled full-time for at least 12 class hours, unless stated otherwise in the Criteria.]
Q: How is the scholarship paid?
A: The scholarship is deposited directly into the student’s school account, and applied ½ for Fall, and ½ for Spring, unless stated otherwise in the Criteria.
Q: Can the scholarship be paid directly the student?
A: No – if it is paid directly to the student, it is considered taxable. For further information refer to the Internal Revenue Service Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
Q: What do the CFO scholarships cover?
A: According to IRS regulations for foundations, “ …scholarships may be used for payment of tuition, fees, books and other related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at your institution.”
Further questions? Please contact:
Beth Hersh | Scholarship Coordinator
Community Foundation of the Ozarks
PO Box 8960, Springfield MO 65801
p. (417) 864-6199