Applying for scholarships can be time consuming, but viewing it as a part time job, even one modest award can be worth several hundred dollars an hour in spent researching and applying. Considering most scholarships have similar criteria, and similar essay prompts, applying can be easy as cut and paste.
The most typical and readily available scholarships are sponsored by the university or the state and are merit based. Merit-based scholarships from universities might not even have a separate application for scholarship consideration and will automatically award money when they grant admission. Depending on the number of people who meet the criteria, and the applicant's scores, these awards can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars a year to full-tuition.
State scholarships have to be applied for, although some financial aid offices in universities streamline the process, if the applicant lives in the sate. Many state scholarships do not apply if the applicant goes out of state, and applicants from out of state typically do not receive scholarships from the state in which they will be attending school. Some state scholarships require community service; be sure to talk with a guidance counselor or teacher for more information on state based scholarships.
Scholarships from private foundations, charities, corporations and religious organizations can be a bit more exotic in the application process and requirements. Many foundations and charities require interviews as part of the selection process, but generally require similar scores and essays. They may also require special projects, or community service. Corporations generally offer some scholarship money to the children of employees who will be studying in an industry related field. A software company may offer scholarships to computer engineers only. Some place a requirement that recipients study at a state school. Some require that the applicant stay in state, but the applicant is free to attend private or public university.
Religious organizations often require that applicants be member of the church, and then the standard mixture of grades, need and essays. The more exotic requirements might come departmental scholarships offered within a particular university. These scholarships often require the applicant meet basic criteria, plus admission. Memorial scholarships make up the bulk of this type of scholarship and sometimes have additional requirements based on the interests or characteristics of the memorial scholarship namesake.
Applying for these loans can be a long process involving interviews and non-standard essay prompts, but they are often very lucrative. Applicants should gather as many scholarship and admission applications as possible before beginning an admission/application essay. Generally the prompts for these are similar, and a well-crafted broad essay can fit neatly into many applications, which streamlines the process. Be wary of application deadlines, as many scholarship deadlines, especially from private organizations come much earlier than university deadlines.