The rising costs of tuition for higher education have reason to give many students and their parent's pause. Tuition costs. Room, board, and textbooks can add up to quite a hefty sum, and the expense continues to trend upwards.
Scholarships have been a long-standing benefit that has helped offset the cost of postsecondary education for many students. While different scholarships will be awarded based on a variety of criteria. Many are based on financial need or academic merit.
Scholarships have also made an appearance on the internet. Many websites now exist that allow students to apply online without having to mail in materials like before. Corporations, universities, and other entities continue to offer scholarships in varying amounts as part of their community outreach efforts.
Scholarships are a popular form of financial aid that can be available to students looking to pursue higher education. Frequently these funds will cover room and board, tuition, books, and other related college expenses.
Full ride scholarships traditionally cover most if not all of the student expenses, but some exceptions may be present. Most awards are for smaller sums of money that can add up to a substantial amount for students.
Scholarships differ from grants, although the terms may often be used interchangeably. Critical difference is that grants are offered based on financial need which is typically determined by students’ FAFSA application.
Scholarships can be awarded based on financial need, academic performance, athletic performance, volunteer work, or other community service. Some scholarships are awarded based on submitted written work. While others may require a video or other media that is created by the applicant.
Some scholarships are also career or subject-specific. These may be an excellent fit for those students who are surer about their chosen career path. Relevant interests they'd like to pursue in the future. Scholarships can also be college-specific, and the requirements are exclusively up to the institution and their priorities.
Tips for Scholarship Applications
Applying for scholarships can be daunting when you realize that your application may be compared with thousands of other applicants. While it is true that competition for scholarships can be quite steep, it is possible to set your application apart by submitting unique and thoughtful content.
One of the best things that you can do is scope out several scholarships you would like to apply for and find any local scholarships that are available. Local scholarships can be offered by local businesses, community portals, educational institutions, and clubs. Doing an internet search for scholarships specifically in your area is an excellent place to start.
Generally speaking, the higher the award amount for the scholarship the more significant the competition will be. It may be in your best interest to pursue a mix of large and small award amounts in order to increase your chances of gaining a scholarship. Smaller awards can still add up and can cover the cost of books, supplies, and other living expenses.
Scholarships that are more involved are also a good idea for those that want to minimize the competition and increase their chances of winning. When there is more work involved for submitting a scholarship application, fewer applicants are likely to apply.
Your scholarship application will have specific instructions and requirements, but it's a good idea to keep these general tips in mind:
- Read all of the directions for the scholarship
- When appropriate, use a personal story or anecdote to add a thoughtful touch
- Proofread your application before submitting
It is better to submit fewer, but higher quality applications, than a higher overall number of applications that may be of lower quality. Before submitting your application, double check all of the requirements to make sure you haven't left anything out.
The Nordstrom Scholarship
The Nordstrom Scholarship was first offered in 1994 as a scholarship for high school juniors that live in the states where Nordstrom has a full-line store. The scholarship was awarded based on academic achievement by the student as well as their extracurricular and community activities.
The 31 states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, N. Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.
Qualifying students need to meet a set of criteria in order to be eligible including:
- Minimum GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale during their time between 9th and 11th grade
- Eligible to attend an accredited 4-year institution
- Planning to apply for financial aid
- Must not have a conviction for any crime
Students should also show in their application that they are committed to participating in volunteer work and giving back to their community as well as participating in extracurricular activities.
Semi-finalists will be asked to submit letters of recommendation online that are from high school officials. The Nordstrom Scholarship also requires writing essays for the initial scholarship application.
Unfortunately, the Nordstrom Scholarship stopped being offered in 2016 and has yet to return. The Nordstrom website discusses other community outreach services that the company currently engages in, but there isn’t any posted information on when the scholarship can be expected to return.
How Much Is the Nordstrom Scholarship?
The scholarship, when it was last available, was for $10,000 towards college expenses. Although the number of winners has ranged from 40-80 depending on the year, the award amount has not changed.
In March 2011, Nordstrom announced that they would be expanding the scholarship awards to 80 total students from across the country which marked a notable expansion in the scholarship program.
The funds are to be paid directly to the 4-year college where the student is enrolled, and payments were set to be delivered in equal installments over the course of four years. Nordstrom initially used social media and other online advertising venues for connecting with students, but printable kits for high school staff were also available.
The scholarship included an essay which varied slightly from year to year. Semi-finalists would then be selected and required to submit letters of recommendation from staff at their high school. The students that were chosen as finalists would also have to participate in an interview with a predetermined selection committee.
The committee included a group of business leaders, educators, community leaders, and various Nordstrom representatives. Applications could be submitted as early as March 15th with a final submission deadline of May 16th. Award winners would then be notified by October 31st of that year.
Although Nordstrom has shifted away from the scholarship program and moved more towards general community improvement and support, there is continuing interest in college scholarships.
How Else Does Nordstrom Help the Community?
Nordstrom may no longer offer a scholarship for high school students; however, their continued community support has expanded and now includes several activities that can be found in their annual report.
One of the pillars for Nordstrom’s’ corporate responsibility is their community outreach which takes on several different forms. One of the primary company goals is to give back to the communities where their staff, customers, and vendors live and to make the workplace better for everyone.
One percent of all gift card sales are donated to nonprofit organizations in the communities that Nordstrom serves. Their annual donation is used to support directed grants, the employee charitable match program, and the volunteer program.
Other programs that allow Nordstrom to give back include Treasure & Bond, MAC Viva Glam, United Way, and Shoes That Fit. Treasure & Bond is a Nordstrom brand that gives 2.5% of its net sales to youth empowerment nonprofits. MAC Viva Glam sells lipstick and lipgloss products that help to support HIV/AIDS research, education, and other programs.
Shoes That Fit is a program that Nordstrom pairs with each holiday season as they work to provide kids in need across the country with new shoes. United Way is another partner that allows employee participation and involves donations and volunteer work.
Nordstrom is very conscious that conducting their business has unavoidable impacts on the environment and they’ve devised ways to reduce or eliminate these impacts wherever possible. They have made energy efficient upgrades to all of their stores and use remote monitoring systems to make sure that lighting and HVAC are running at their best.
They have also changed the landscaping at their store locations to conserve water, and they continuously look for ways to lower their carbon footprint using more efficient transportation methods for their products.
Nordstrom has partnered with Forterra which is a nonprofit that works to protect the environment by helping to create and conserve natural, working landscapes. Nordstrom has become part of the Evergreen Carbon Capture Program and aimed to offset 50% of their carbon emissions from stores in the Puget Sound region.
Nordstrom also engages in an aggressive recycling program for items such as paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, glass, and compostable materials. They consistently recycle old computers, printer cartridges, and other technology that their stores use. 100% of Nordstrom bags and boxes are also recyclable.