With hundreds of universities and private colleges in Australia there’s literally thousands of scholarships out there. It’s pretty daunting trying to find the ideal one for you. Finding the perfect scholarship might be at the bottom of your to do list but it’s worth taking the time and finding out which ones you can apply for. Not only can they ease the financial pressure of going into tertiary education, they can also help you get ahead after you graduate.

1. Do your research

Your school careers advisor is a valuable starting point for scholarships. Some universities make it easy for careers advisors by posting them newsletters for available scholarships, and some schools are affiliated with certain universities which means you’ll be the first to hear about any opportunities that come up. Don’t rely solely on your careers advisor though- do some Googling and check out uni specific sites to see what’s available and don’t be afraid to call them up for a chat if you have any questions.

2. Start ASAP

You will find scholarships that you can apply for at the click of a button and some that will need you to submit your academic records. Some will ask you to fill in a lengthy questionnaire, lodge academic records and references. For any scholarship, give yourself as much time as possible before the closing date to sort out the paperwork, so you can invest the time to read through the requirements, formulate your responses and proofread your application to make sure it’s perfect.

3. Don’t lie

This is especially true when the scholarship asks you for your academic records. If you’re ranked low in English, don’t say you’re coming third in your school. Universities will check with your school to verify the information you have given them, and falsified documents will often lead to instant disqualification.

4. It’s not all about the cash

It might be tempting to look at the scholarships with the highest value attached to them, and say ‘I’m going for that’ but consider whether it’s in a field you are interested in. There’s no point applying for an accounting scholarship if you want to be a veterinarian. Some scholarships might not offer a massive amount of money but will give you amazing networking and work experience opportunities which, in certain fields, will help you more in the long run.

5. Read the boring bits

There’s a lot of fine print that comes with scholarships and you’re going to have to read the Terms and Conditions whether you like it or not. How much financial assistance do they provide per year? How often are the scholarship payments distributed to students? Do you need to achieve a certain grade in order to receive the scholarship? What happens if you fall below that grade?

Also, since you might want to work part-time while studying, it’s worth considering whether a scholarship you’re getting might become a part of your tax liability. The ATO has a handy tool to determine whether your scholarship is taxable here.

6. Just apply

If you don’t think you will get the scholarship, another way of looking at it is that you have no chance if you don’t submit your application. You might ask yourself ‘why would they accept me?’ but even if you think you don’t stand a chance against other applicants, give it a go anyway. Don’t self sabotage yourself either by submitting an application late or purposely leaving it to the last minute.

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