Knowing and becoming familiar with a timeline to search, identify, and apply for scholarships can be a bit tricky. At Eastern Illinois University, many scholarships become available each year from January through March, with some opportunities in September and October.
The timeline noted below can help make the scholarship process much easier when completing all of the necessary scholarship steps and will help you to avoid missing out on any scholarship opportunities. With a little time, commitment, and perseverance, scholarships can help tremendously with financing a college education.
June and July
- Periodically familiarize and review scholarship opportunities available on the EIU scholarship search engine located at eiu.academicworks.com. Eastern also advertises a multitude of outside scholarship opportunities. These listings can be found on the ‘Outside Scholarship Resources for Students’ tab on the EIU scholarship web page.
- Keep a folder. In the folder, keep a notepad to write down the scholarships that you find and are eligible to apply for. Note the scholarship application deadline and then print out the application if available. If the scholarship application is not available, go back to the website later to acquire.
- During this time, you can search for scholarships monthly or weekly depending on your free time.
- Continue to search for scholarships.
- For current Eastern students, some fall scholarship application deadlines will occur in September and October. Be sure to complete relevant applications so you don’t miss out on fall scholarship deadlines.
- During this time period, scholarship searches can be done weekly depending on your free time.
- Begin working on your personal essay.
- A basic template essay can be created now, and then you can adapt the written piece later according to specific essay questions for any particular scholarship.
- When writing a personal essay, consider the following questions:
- What is special, unique and impressive about you?
- What unusual obstacles or hardships have you had to overcome to get where you are today?
- What have you learned from the challenges you have had in your life?
- What events or people have shaped and influenced your life?
- Why are you the best fit for the scholarship?
- What have you done to prove that you are worth this scholarship's funding?
- What are your personal, academic and professional goals?
- How have you contributed to the community and what have you learned from these experiences?
- Why might you be a stronger candidate than other applicants?
- What are the most compelling reasons you can give to the scholarship committee to be interested in you?
- Begin collecting letters of recommendation.
- For each year of school, you should collect 3-5 letters of recommendation. This is to keep your personal contacts and documented new learning experiences fresh.
- For new freshman students, these letters can come from principals, assistant principals, guidance counselors, supervisors from employment or volunteer work, coaches and also mentors.
- For continuing Eastern students, letters of recommendation should come from professors, academic advisors, supervisors from employment or volunteer work, coaches and also mentors.
- When asking someone to write a letter of recommendation, suggest that they write it out to “To whom it may concern.” This will allow you to make several copies of the letter later to attach to each scholarship application. When received, place in your scholarship folder until needed at a later date.
September, October and November
- Financial Aid
- File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible after October 1. This will help to ensure that you have access to state and federal grant money if eligibility requirements are met. The FAFSA must also be completed to determine eligibility for the Panther Promise Tuition Waiver.
- Apply for fall scholarship opportunities.
- For continuing Eastern students, be sure to apply for fall scholarships that you are eligible to apply for. Departments with fall scholarship selections include the School of Business, College of Education and Professional Studies, Family & Consumer Sciences, Study Abroad, International Students and Scholars office, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Honors College.
- Don’t forget to apply for those outside scholarships that do have fall application deadlines.
- Continue to look for new scholarship opportunities, document deadlines, and acquire applications. During this time period, scholarship searches can be done weekly depending on your free time.
- Continue researching spring semester scholarship opportunities at Eastern but also on the Internet. Document those that you are eligible for along with their application deadline for spring. Secure applications if available.
- Secure letters of recommendation and complete the personal statement if not yet written.
- At Eastern, scholarship application periods will begin to open starting in December and then throughout the spring months ending in March. Spend December reviewing your spring semester scholarship list, reviewing notes in your folder, and completing scholarship applications.
- Winter Break
- This is a great time to complete applications, make copies of letters of recommendation and modify personal essays as needed to accommodate specific questions for scholarships. With your personal essay already complete, you should only have to ‘cut and paste’ the document to your application.
- Outside Scholarship opportunities
- Also during the months of December, January and February, many scholarship opportunities will become available in your home community. Spend some time during winter break seeking out these scholarship opportunities. Document what you find in your scholarship folder.
- Honors-specific scholarships
- High school seniors, don’t miss out on applying for scholarship opportunities that are available through the Sandra and Jack Pine Honors College. The application deadline for the Presidential Scholars Award, Pemberton Presidential Award and Honors Award is in early January of each year. Please view specific criteria and deadlines here: http://www.eiu.edu/honors/Freshman_scholarships.php.
January, February and March
- Continue researching scholarship opportunities at Eastern but also on the Internet. Document those that you are eligible for, along with application deadlines, and print out the applications.
- Submit EIU's General Scholarship Application and apply to recommended awards by March 15.
- Stop by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to review the outside scholarship shelf. Many outside scholarship providers share their information with the office to give to you.
- High school seniors, be sure to visit your guidance counselor's office on a regular basis in the spring months. They will often have information regarding scholarships that are offered in your home area. Pick up applications, complete, and mail to the scholarship provider prior to the application deadline.
- Complete applications and turn them in to the sponsoring departments or outside providers. Be sure to ask someone to proofread your scholarship application(s) prior to mailing.
- Before you mail your scholarship applications, ask yourself these questions:
- Did I fill out the application correctly?
- Did I sign my application?
- Did I have someone proofread and edit my personal essay?
- Did I follow all of the essay guidelines?
- Did I include all of the requested documents? (Personal essay, letters of recommendation, application, etc.)
April and May
- If the scholarship application deadline has passed and you have not yet heard anything about a particular scholarship, contact the department or outside source that is sponsoring the scholarship and inquire.