The most basic definition of a scholarship is that it is free money for your education. For many people that can't afford college, a money award may be the only way they get a higher education. Other methods exist to get financial aid for college, but most of them only pay a portion of the costs or must be paid back after school.

Most scholarships don't pay every school-related expense. Some scholarships offer a set amount of money while others pay the total amount. For instance, a local business may provide a scholarship for students in the area but only offer $1,000. That amount helps, but it doesn't come close to paying for college. So, most students apply for several scholarships at once.

If you live in South Florida, the George Snow Scholarship Fund may be your answer to financial difficulties surrounding college. This scholarship aims to help students reach their college goals through financial support and a few bonuses.

They go beyond the typical role of a scholarship fund to ensure students achieve their goals. Over 90 percent of scholars in their program graduate. The national average is only 52 percent.

A Brief History of the George Snow Scholarship Fund

Typically, a scholarship fund is set up to fill a need and add some positive public relations to the portfolio of donors. There are other reasons to start a scholarship, but in general, that's the reason. The circumstances surrounding the beginning of the George Snow Scholarship fall outside the standard reasons a fund is started.

It started with a tragedy in 1982 when a Boca Raton, FL math teacher, George Snow, died. Snow's helicopter crashed near the Bahamas killing Snow and his passengers. George Snow was retired at the time, but his passion for education remained. To honor Snow's dedication to learning and his memory, his family started the George Snow Foundation which later became the George Snow Scholarship Fund.

Snow's passion for education lives on in the work and support this fund provides for students in South Florida. Since it was founded, the fund has provided financial support in excess of $7 million to students that meet their requirements. In a single year, 2015, 67 students received over $600,000 in total financial support.

Who is Eligible for the Scholarship?

According to their website, location is a big part of eligibility. Any student attending a high school in Palm Beach County Florida can apply. Some high schools in Broward County Florida are eligible as well. In total, around 35 high schools fall inside the location requirement. The remaining criteria are simple:

  • Students must show a financial need for help
  • Students should be active in school programs or involved in their community
  • Students should have high career and educational goals
  • Students should have a history of self-motivation

If you meet their requirements, and you get a scholarship, you can attend any accredited college or university in the country and study any subject you choose. They also offer scholarships for specific majors, but they don’t put any restrictions on your education other than requiring you to maintain a high GPA overall and remain active in events or community-based clubs.

They get over 700 applications each year, so it's probably a good idea to get yours done quickly. Still, speed won't help your chances unless you meet all their requirements. However, to be honest, other than the location restrictions they don't have stringent rules on winning the scholarship. We should all be more active in our communities and strive for higher grades regardless.

Eligible for the Scholarship

A panel of over 50 people read all the applications and submit their picks to a committee. The committee interviews the eligible students to determine the final outcome. Keep in mind they only awarded 67 students a scholarship in 2015, so the application is where you will win or lose in the selection process. You need to stand out from the other applicants.

They are looking for students that motivate themselves and others. Merely needing financial help with college and having good grades probably won't land you a scholarship, but that's true with most scholarship funds. They want you to help yourself and try to help those around you. Look for opportunities to assist struggling students at your high school and help out in your community.

Financial need is based on several things but is close to the same process any financial aid program uses. If you have some financial aid from your school or government programs, they take that into consideration. If you don't have any help, they use an internal economic assessment to determine your eligibility based on money issues.

You, or your parents, should complete a FAFSA application to determine what government financial aid is available to you. The information plus any assistance you get from the government programs are part of the assessment process, and the George Snow Scholarship Fund does look at your FAFSA information. They also consider your family’s tax returns and in student aid reports available.

When Should I Apply?

Applications are available every year beginning on November 1st. Submissions must be sent in before February 1st of the following year to be eligible. Students that are selected get an email toward the end of March that year, and interviews start a week or two later.

According to their website, emails to students that get a scholarship go out on May 8th following the interview period. The process takes a few months so don’t wait until the last minute.

The George Snow Scholarship Fund works with or supports about sixty other scholarship funds or programs. If you aren't sure you meet all the requirements or need help meeting them, check the list and try your luck with one of the other programs. Some of the programs listed might have volunteer positions locally. That's an excellent way to be involved with your community.

Why is this Scholarship Fund Better than Many Others?

Back view of graduates

They genuinely believe in helping you achieve your education goals. They offer services that go far beyond what most scholarship funds provide. They don't merely send your school and check and wish you good luck. If you win a George Snow Scholarship, you can count on them supporting you throughout your education or at least the part they are helping you fund. Some additional services include:

  • Getting you a college physical
  • Sending a college-themed gift backset
  • Paying for computers and school supplies
  • Helping you make the leap from high school to college
  • An emergency fund program
  • Sending college care packages

They want you to succeed at school and at home. Over 90 percent of their scholarship recipients graduate which is impressive considering the national average is less than 60 percent. Over 20 percent of recipients go on to get an advanced or graduate degree. Nearly 40 percent of their students come from single-parent homes. They make every effort to use the funds they have to help those that truly need the money.

The fund is regularly recognized on local, state, regional, and national levels for their outstanding programs and support. The National Scholarship Providers Association awarded them their “2015 Scholarship Provider of the Year” award. Considering the thousands of scholarship funds available, that is not a small achievement.

The thing that impresses us the most about this scholarship fund is their dedication to helping students from start to finish. Colleges and universities use a practice called award displacement that undermines the benefits of scholarships in favor of government aid. Whether this is intentional, or a result of government policies is debatable.

Recipients of a George Snow Scholarship don’t suffer from these practices or penalties. They work with you to maximize your available financial aid through the school and government programs before awarding your scholarship funds.

That way you get the most financial aid available to you. They work with you and your college or university to help you meet your goals. Few scholarship programs go that far.

Next in line for impressive policies at the George Snow Scholarship Fund is their use of donations. Every penny donors donate is used to provide scholarship money to deserving students. The financial needs of the Fund come from volunteers and additional fundraising activities. Some scholarship funds use a large chunk of donations for expenses which limits how much they provide to students.

When you receive an award letter from them, you get to choose between a new computer or a cash award for college supplies. The machines are brand new and selected from current business line computer models. It's a laptop as well, so you don't need to worry about lugging a desktop around if you move or swap dorm rooms.


Our Final Thoughts

In the world of college scholarships funds, the George Snow Scholarship stands out from the group. The offer more benefits and additional services than most other funds. The set out to help deserving high school students that need financial help get a college education, and they haven't lost sight of that goal since the beginning.

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