by Jose Mercado
I was fortunate enough to qualify for several scholarships in addition to The Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Army College fund to offset the cost of my Physician Assistant education. I owe a special thanks to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Gates Millennium Scholarship (GSM) of which I am an Inaugural Scholar. I also wanted to thank The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, (HACU)
Below is an excerpt from an article that I first wrote in 1999 for my school newspaper. It was later adapted by the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, FAPA I wrote this in response to the many solicitations for advice that I received from fellow students.
“I found out that it takes more than good looks and charm to pay for school. After lots of searching and plenty of frustration, I found an easier way to pay for school – scholarships.
Here are some of my best kept secrets – free money. The money is out there for anyone persistent enough to apply for it.
All of this information is in ADDITION to the local scholarships offered by your school. Get to know your scholarship coordinator and stay on top of them to keep you informed."
- File for financial aid early, even if you know that you don’t qualify (No one will give you money without it). Federal Student Financial Aid forms can now be filed on-line. Log and request your PIN number and in a few weeks you can renew or apply on-line.
- Good grades are only PART of a good application.
- Get involved with your school and community, show your commitment.
- Document all of your contributions to the profession, your program, your community and school.
- Write a good cover letter that accurately describes you and highlights your achievement and POTENTIAL.
- Modify the same letter for EACH scholarship application.
- Save copies of your application essay – recycle, update and reuse them!
- Don’t just meet deadlines, beat them.
- The earlier you submit an application, the longer they have to consider it and the better your chances.
- Keep bugging your school’s financial aid department. Let them know you need money.
- Apply to every scholarship that you remotely qualify for. The worst they can say is NO!
- Read all requirements to make sure you qualify for any scholarship. Do not be mislead, you may qualify and not know it!
- For every scholarship I was awarded, at least eight turned me down. Stay positive, stay productive and be persistent. That also applies to life in general!