Although there are some financial aid options such as the Pell Grant and Cal Grant that you may be eligible for regardless of your desired area of study, ethnicity or religion, a major portion of college scholarships in California are based on more specific criteria. Communities and organizations that offer scholarships usually want to promote students belonging to their own social or professional circle, which is why you need to begin your search for the right California college scholarships by introspecting and analyzing who you are or what you want to become.
Begin by trying to find scholarships that match your religion or ethnicity, especially if you belong to a minority group as this can increase your chances for qualifying. Some of the well-known Christian scholarships are categorized as Church of Christ Scholarships, Baptism Scholarships, Bible Scholarships and Catholic Scholarships. These are further divided into specific scholarship packages such as the Make a Difference Doctoral Studies Award ($2,500) and the United Church of Christ (UCC) Scholarship. There are also options available for Jewish students or for people who want to study about Judaism such as the Dorot Fellowship ($7,000) and Gerson Jewish Studies Scholarship ($1,000). Several other programs are available for those belonging to other religious backgrounds or pursuing religious education, such as the LDS/Mormon Scholarships and Charismatic/Pentecostal Scholarships.
It also helps to look into additional financial aid that is being offered for your ethnic group. Middle Eastern students can apply for the Hassan Mustafa Abdallah Scholarship ($2,000) or Dean’s Program for Ethnic and Cultural Diversity, among others. Latinos, Hispanics and Chicanos can avail from options such as the David C. Lizarraga Fellowship ($10,000) or the Cesar Chavez Memorial Leadership Award ($5,000). Choices are also available for African-Americans, American-Indians, Native Alaskans, Pacific Islanders, Caucasians, and other ethnicities.
Finally, there are scholarships based on the field of study that you intend to pursue, and this is where you may very likely need to do the most research. This is because the subjects that are available in modern education are so vast, ranging from Art and Philosophy to Business and Biology. You should carefully think about what you want to study in college beforehand and apply for related scholarships. To name a few, there are the Arthur Andersen & Company Accounting Leadership Awards (for finance and accounting), Career Through Culinary Arts Program ($10,000 each for culinary arts students), and Writing scholarships such as the Ben Henneke Research Fellowship ($12,000) and the Bonita M. Cox Award for Classical & Medieval Studies (rewarded amount varies). Those wanting to become lawyers could apply for the Academic Common Market Award or Doctoral Scholars Program ($15,000) whereas students pursuing education in Teaching can apply for Abram & Sylvia Chasens Teaching & Research Fellowship ($15,000) or the Antonio Cirino Memorial Art Education Fellowship ($10,000).
You should prepare to apply for every scholarship according to its own unique set of requirements. Usually you will be required to write an application letter explaining why you are suitable for the program and how you feel it will benefit you. When applying, always keep in mind that you need to match the criteria (such as religion or ethnicity) as well show a need for financial aid – chances are that if you can pay for your education yourself then the likelihood of receiving aid becomes lower. The amount of financial aid that the student receives usually varies depending on the expected academic expenses and available funds, although some programs do only offer fixed amounts. Deadlines are often open year-round but it is always better to apply early in the semester or before the semester begins when there are more funds available. Keep in mind that deadlines are not always at the beginning of the year; while a majority of fixed deadlines are between January and March, there is also a significant number of deadlines for November. The deadlines for January, February and March are usually for students that intend to begin or continue studies in the Fall semester, whereas November deadlines are usually for covering expenses incurred during Spring semester.
California College Scholarships posted by Nadeem Alim at USCollegeRanking.org