Forget the excuses. An updated version of Saint Leo's scholarship guide for adult learners is now available and can help you get started.

If you're an adult learner earning your college degree online, you've probably convinced yourself that you have some really sound reasons why you're not seeking scholarships to help pay for your education.

And not one of them has to do with a rich uncle who left you a huge inheritance.

But are they valid reasons or merely excuses?

Here are four common excuses that may be holding you back from applying for scholarships and why you should let them go.

1. Scholarships are only available for high school and traditional college students.

While there is certainly an abundance of scholarship opportunities for high school students, you'd be surprised how many scholarships are earmarked for single parents, working adults, women, minorities, military veterans, cancer survivors, and all sorts of nontraditional students and underrepresented groups.

The key to finding scholarships is taking a targeted approach and identifying specific criteria that match your qualifications.

2. Searching and applying for scholarships is too time-consuming.

Yes, conducting a scholarship search online and applying takes time, but there are tools that can help you streamline the process.

Scholarship search engines, for example, can do the bulk of the grunt work for you. There are plenty of these types of search sites on the web that are free and will keep your personal information private. Some of the most popular ones are Fastweb,, Unigo, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Set up a profile and you can receive email alerts when new opportunities become available. Keep in mind that once you develop a resume, answers to commonly asked questions and a general essay about your goals and achievements, you can easily tailor these to address the specific requirements for individual applications. There's no need to reinvent the wheel for each application.

3. Most scholarship awards are too small, so why bother.

Whether you're single and living on your own or a parent with family responsibilities, you already know that small efforts can make a big difference when it comes to financial stability. It's why you create a budget and stick to it, look for sales, ask for discounts, clip coupons, bring your lunch to work, pay your bills on time, and countless other little things to maintain financial well-being and save for the future.

True, there are more $500 and $1,000 scholarships available than $5,000 and $10,000 awards, but those small amounts can add up.

Look at it this way. If you spent just 10 hours one weekend looking for and applying for scholarships and receive even one $1,000 award, you earned $100 an hour.

Who wouldn't agree that those 10 hours were time well spent.

4. There are too many applicants so I would never have a chance anyway.

According to scholarship search site Unigo, scholarships that require merely the click of a 'submit' button are the ones that attract thousands of applicants making the competition intense. Scholarships that require work, however, including essays, attract fewer applicants.

The key is to make yourself competitive. That means if you decide to apply for a scholarship, avoid costly mistakes that could lessen your chances of earning the award.

  • Note application deadlines and meet them.

  • Apply only if you meet all eligibility criteria.

  • Complete the application in full and follow all instructions.

  • Develop your essay carefully and make sure it addresses the topic.

  • Proofread your application.

Updated scholarship guide available

To help you start your scholarship search, Saint Leo created "An Adult Learner's Guide to Finding Scholarships and Grants." This easy-to-read guide, which provides a general overview of where you can begin, is now updated with new links to resources and opportunities for nontraditional college students.

The guide is not a comprehensive resource to take you through the financial aid process. Nor will it answer all of your questions about paying for school. Your college enrollment counselor or financial aid liaison can help you with more general questions and there are lots of great government websites you can turn to for assistance filing your FAFSA or securing a loan.

What this guide aims to do is save you time by offering a number of scholarship websites and helpful tips and tools. Consider it a springboard to launch your search efforts.

Important reminder

Remember that some scholarships require no deep digging on the internet at all. They're the ones available directly through your school. Saint Leo University, for example, maintains a list of privately funded scholarships that are made available through gifts from generous benefactors. Keep in mind that scholarship deadlines may differ from admissions deadlines so keep track of scholarship application deadlines.

There could also be times when your school may offer a one-time scholarship to commemorate a special occasion such as a landmark anniversary. For example, when Saint Leo's current president, Dr. William J. Lennox Jr., decided to forgo a formal inauguration ceremony, he chose to mark the leadership change by providing 20 inauguration scholarships of $2,500 each.

So stay on top of your student email or communications you receive from your school.

Start now

Begin your scholarship search now. Click here to download your free copy of "An Adult Learner's Guide to Finding Scholarships and Grants". We hope that it will lead you to some serious financial assistance that will help you realize your dream of earning a college degree.

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