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Jaguars should prowl for scholarships

Sydney Davis, a sophomore, researches potential scholarships on her JagSpot account.

Sydney Davis, a sophomore, researches potential scholarships on her JagSpot account.

Jake Cannon

Jake Cannon

Sydney Davis, a sophomore, researches potential scholarships on her JagSpot account.

Morgan Parton, Life Editor

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A college degree is a necessity to be successful in the United States now more than ever. We as students have an opportunity to avoid the headache and stress of paying back student loan debt with scholarships.

According to the Consumer financial Protection Bureau, federal student loan debt in 2017 has risen to an astounding $1.2 trillion.

USA is known for its comparatively affordable education. In-state tuition can range anywhere from $302 – $348 per credit hour depending on the college. Out-of-state tuition can reach almost double that of in-state tuition.

According to USA’s website, full-time commuting students could pay an average of $9,060 for an academic year. Moreover, a full-time resident student could pay $16,400 for an academic year.

There isn’t a single, easy solution to eliminating student debt. Higher education demands that we set ourselves up for success, and scholarships are a great way to prepare for our future after college.

In last year alone, USA awarded more than $17 million in scholarships to students. As the end of the academic year is approaching, so are many scholarship deadlines. Students who wish to apply for scholarships for the coming academic year should hurry to apply for any scholarship opportunities still available.  

Scholarships are typically awarded based on financial need, academic achievement, community involvement, and a student’s area of study.

All scholarships offered by USA, including departmental, major related, and organizational scholarships, can be found in JagSPOT: USA’s Scholarship Program Opportunity Tracker. By filling out JagSPOT’s applications, the program will recommend scholarships students are eligible for.

Other external scholarships can be found based on degree or demographic factors. Many communities offer scholarships, and there are many online resources such as Federal Student Aid, in the U.S. Department of Education, to broaden your search.

Students applying for scholarships can typically feel nervous and frustrated. But don’t fret: you’re not alone.  

Starting early in your scholarship process ensures that you can spend plenty of time on your application and essay (if needed).

When writing an essay for a scholarship, students should strive to make their essays personal and passionate. Students should use specific details to illustrate the point of their essay. Putting specific interests in your essay could be the difference in a rejection letter or a check in your hand.

For editing and more assistance, students can visit the USA Writing Center for tips on their essay, or contact the USA Department of Scholarship Services.

Reference letters can be requested through JagSPOT. However, students will not be allowed to view the final reference letter sent in. It is important that students select references that know them personally or have mentored them in their field of study. Students should not be afraid to ask a reference if they could write an excellent letter prior to sending in a request.

To help references write an appropriate letter, students should send them a resume, portfolio or essay. Be sure the reference knows the deadline of the reference letter.

Students should log into their JagSPOT account through USA’s scholarship website to get started applying for scholarships.
To see a complete list of scholarships still open for current students to apply for, students may visit

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Jaguars should prowl for scholarships