Financial Aid Book Review
The Scholarship Advisor: Hundreds of Thousands of Scholarships Worth More Than $1 Billion (Scholarship Advisor), by Chris Vuturo
Paperback - 933 pages, Princeton Review-Random House
People are constantly asking me about how they can locate scholarships for college. They say things like, "I read somewhere that more than $300 billion go unclaimed every year." Not quite. The good news, though, is that there is one great place to start looking for college dollars, even if there are considerably fewer than 300 billion.
I like authoritative authors. In this case, Scholarship Advisor author Chris Vuturo has walked the walk. According to the Random House PR materials that accompany this volume, when Chris was a high school student he "did what he calls 'a ton of research' to find college scholarships and ended up getting [I'm not making this up, people] over $885,000 in aid award offers." Now, before you go ballistic and claim that such a thing is impossible, consider that a student could be accepted at 10 colleges, each of which could make near-full-ride offers. If the total yearly cost at each school is around $30,000 (not uncommon today), that's about $300,000 in awards. Obviously, Chris overachieved in this area, but that makes him all the more interesting as a guide for scholarship seekers.
So, what does Chris offer up in his Manhattan-phone-directory-sized volume? For starters, there's information on more than 100,000 scholarships with a complete explanation of the scholarship application process. This includes sample essays and interview tips (yes, sometimes you have to interview to get a scholarship). Chris tells you how to organize your scholarship search, focusing on not-so-obvious sources such as employers, companies, and not-for-profit organizations. His "Scholarship Locator" is a very handy cross-reference that allows readers to scan all the listings both alphabetically and by career interest. I always think about the amount of labor that goes into creating these massive indexes.
Quoting one of Vuturo's "insider" statements: "Many students and parents think that scholarships go only to the most brilliant students, the neediest of the needy, or the most spectacular athletes. Not so." Good, then; there's hope for you. Accordingly, he offers up perspectives on how to become a desirable candidate, why it pays to start early, what scholarship committees look for, and how to research the possibilities. He also addresses the not-so-apparent issue of how scholarships interact with financial aid awards. Some students may find that their college grants are reduced by the amount of the outside scholarships they've won, a nasty surprise. Chris also discusses specific scholarships allocated for students with certain hobbies, ethnic backgrounds, disabilities, GPAs, genders, career interests, and the like. There's more, but I think you can see that The Scholarship Advisor can answer just about any question you have. It may even provide answers for questions you didn't know you had.
-Reviewed by Dave Berry