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Unigo Expert Network: All Cash Everything, The Inside Track on College Scholarships

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Scholarship deadlines are approaching (some have even passed!) and whether you're a high school senior trying to get that last bit of financial cushion, or a junior looking to stockpile scholarship ammo, hear what the experts have to say on landing the most money.

This week's question asks:

"I want to help my parents out with my tuition by landing as many scholarships as I can.  Where should I start, what do they usually require, and what are some crazy scholarships you know of?"

Don't miss answers from the VP of The College Board, Dean of Admissions at the University of Illinois, and ask your own questions at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork

Pam Proctor"Think local, and think "hook" when you're seeking scholarships" To max out on scholarships, start with your local Dollars for Scholars (DFS), a network of community foundations with 1,200 chapters coast to coast. Local philanthropists funnel scholarship money through DFS to worthy students in their communities. Next, apply to schools that need you. Schools a little bit down the pecking order in the rankings may recruit you because of your "hook" -- a special talent or achievement that sets you apart. For example, one multicultural student with a string of science awards won a $30,000-per-year merit scholarship at a hot university in the South that wanted her diversity and scientific brainpower to bolster the student body.

- Pam Proctor - Author, The College HookChristopher Kaiser"Scholarships, Scholarships everywhere but none of them for me?" If you are feeling overwhelmed at the cost of college, remember, you are not alone.  If you do a quick search on the web you will find thousands of scholarships for nearly every reason. However the best advice begins with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  For awarding purposes, the interest from many of the scholarships is pooled together, which eliminates the need for a specific application other than the FAFSA.  Look in the catalogue of the schools you have applied to and you will often find a list of endowed scholarships.  Finally, when you go outside to look for applicable scholarships, be mindful of scams.  Go to trusted names and often begin with places you know and can research.  But when all else fails, and if you Live in Miami-Dade County in Florida maybe your Vegan Soup Recipe can get you $5000 for College.

- Christopher Kaiser - Associate Dean of Undergrad Students, Seton Hall UniversityCraig Meister"Scholarships: easy to find, but are they worth the effort?" Your scholarship search should start by asking anyone and everyone if they know of scholarship opportunities. Not only will you learn about previously unknown sources of money, you will also build networking skills. Many entities offer scholarships. In just the past year, my students have earned scholarships from elected officials, war veterans associations, TV stations, religious organizations, fashion companies, and political parties. Most of these scholarships required applications, essays, and interviews. While finding sources of money can be easy, there is no such thing as a free lunch! Many colleges reduce their aid packages for every scholarship you earn.

- Craig Meister - President, Tactical College ConsultingShelley Levine"How to make the most of your scholarship opportunities'" Your desire to partner with your parents is admirable. Begin by creating a profile with several scholarship search engines, including fastweb.com, cappex.com and collegeboard.com. Your unique qualities (including your academic and social interests, family and birth circumstances, gender, political persuasion, geographic location, sexual orientation, handedness, health, and more) will be matched to scholarships from many sources. When applying, be sure you stay within the word limit, remain on topic, be concise, adhere to all grammar and spelling rules, and if possible, be creative. Scholarship committees are looking for students who are bright, interesting and represent their mission. Best of luck!

- Shelly Levine - Certified Educational Planner, College Bound

There are some crazy scholarships out there - let us know the weirdest ones you've heard of!