“College costs a lot. A scholarship sure would help”, read some of the many posters scattered across campus. The month of February at Minnesota State, Mankato is the prime time to apply for the hundreds of scholarships offered to MSU undergraduates and graduates through Scholarship Finder.
“Last year we awarded 730 student scholarships,” says Carolyn Nelson, MSU’s Director of Scholarships. “This year we expect more.”
Over $1 million is available in scholarships each year for a wide variety of majors and extracurriculars. The scholarships are funded by numerous sources, such as alumni memorials, local businesses, and even the MSU Campus Bookstore.
A portion of textbook sales throughout the year are set aside for specific aid, such as the Mav Textbook Reserve Program, as well as other various campus scholarships. According to David Cowan, the Director of Facilities Services, over $4.5 million of campus bookstore sales have been set aside for scholarships since 2012.
“I think there’s a scholarship in Scholarship Finder for every student at Minnesota State University, Mankato,” says Nelson.
Scholarship Finder, linked on the MSU website, has numerous features designed to help students locate opportunities they are qualified for.
“Scholarship Finder puts all of our scholarships in one place so students can easily access them. Students complete a general application, and based on their responses, we take information that we already know about you, like your major and your GPA, and we match you to those scholarships that you uniquely are qualified for,” Nelson explained.
One student who has put the system to use so far this month is Joey Novak, a junior studying aviation at MSU. “I have applied to a couple of scholarships related to student leadership, LGBT students, and my major,” says Novak, who works as a community advisor as well as a member of student government.
“I had to write an essay for the leadership and the LGBT scholarships,” Novak also noted.
Not every scholarship requires an essay. Some scholarships only ask for an unofficial transcript, while others ask for references as well.
“The number one thing I would encourage students to do is to get an early start,” Nelson advises. “If you’re only logging in a day or a week before the deadline, you might not have time to plan for those additional documents that you might need.”
Nelson pointed out that if students don’t know where to begin searching for scholarships to check out the MSU website.
“The easiest place for students to start if they have questions about how to apply or how to access scholarship funding is through our website,” says Nelson. “If students have individual questions, they can certainly reach out to me directly on helping students identify what they are uniquely qualified for.”
Further information on applying for scholarships can be found on the MSU website under financial aid, as well as the Scholarship Finder. Application deadlines vary, with most closing on February 28.