Show Me the Money: Finding Tuition in the Strangest Places

    Christina Aushana/Guardian

    If you have a flair for designing golf courses, grew up in the Bay Area or simply have an uncontrollable sweet tooth, you may just be a candidate for some cold hard cash — in scholarships, that is. With tuition prices burning a never-ending hole in students’ wallets, scholarships from UCSD and beyond provide a way to dodge debt.

    The two major scholarship programs for undergraduates at UCSD are the Continuing Undergraduate Scholarship Application and the Undergraduate Research Application. The first can be found on TritonLink in the financial-aid section, while the second is located at the web address

    According to Becky Obayashi, the UCSD undergraduate scholarship coordinator for the university financial-aid office, the scholarship programs at UCSD are well used. She notes that normally 2,000 applications are turned in each year for the Continuing Undergraduate Scholarship Application, although only 1,000 of these students actually complete the application in order to be considered. Last year, the program gave out 400 scholarships. For the Undergraduate Research Application, 65 scholarships were awarded last year from a field of 81 applications.
    However, Obayashi said that many of the prestigious national awards such as the Beinecke, Morris Udall and Donald Strauss Foundation scholarships, reign in surprisingly low or even nonexistent numbers of UCSD applicants.

    “For the prestigious awards, [students] have to be very competitive, have really high grades and should be well rounded,” Obayashi said. “Students of that caliber either think they don’t need to go for it, or don’t think they need to compete.”

    One source of diverse selections for Tritons is the Continuing Undergraduate Scholarship Application, which encompasses 49 different scholarship programs offering up to $5,000 in awards. Students can apply to as many scholarships as they meet the criteria for; however, only one scholarship is given per student and most are for students with a 3.0 GPA or above. The application, which includes merit, financial-restricted, major-restricted and regional scholarships, is due February 23, 2009, at 11:30 p.m.

    The Bay Area Alumni Scholarship, granted to full-time students who have both financial need and have graduated from a high school in the San Francisco Bay Area, is one of the regionally oriented awards — a two-year scholarship providing up to $2,000 annually, giving UCSD’s NorCal-ers another reason to be hella proud.

    For fans of Tiger Woods who were tempted to skip finals last June in order to watch the U.S. Open, the Continuing Undergraduate Scholarship Application offers the Golf Course Builders Association Scholarship for students involved in urban studies and contemplating a future career in golf-course design.

    The Undergraduate Research Application is also an option for students. It is open to all majors and provides anywhere from $3,000 to $3,500 in one-year awards. The application includes eight different scholarships.

    For those who prefer a quest for cash outside of campus, there is the San Diego Foundation Scholarships organization. The application can be found online at, and the deadline is January 23, 2009. It offers roughly 70 scholarships for undergraduates, as well as a few for graduate students.

    Other private donors can be found awarding scholarships for any number of reasons and are just a Google search away.

    Sophomores, juniors or seniors with a weakness for candy may be able to get back the money lost from trips to the dentist. The American Association of Candy Technologists Scholarship Program is for students who have demonstrated an interest in confectionary technology through research, internships, work experience or study.

    If you have grandma’s touch for knitting itchy wool sweaters, then the National Make It Yourself Wool Competition can turn your spun wool into tuition. The contest is open to people from ages 17 to 24 and runs from Jan. 21 to Jan. 25 in 2009.

    The Little People of America and Tall Clubs International offer awards to those vertically challenged or blessed. A duck-calling co-ed can rake in as much as $1,500 and students who attended their prom in fashions formed solely from duct tape could have landed a pretty penny toward tuition.

    Now adept at scouring through scholarships after seven years of undergraduate study, Earl Warren College senior Jesse Dubler received the Donald Stauss Foundation Scholarship as well as a number of other scholarships over the past two years. She received $10,000 for the Donald Strauss Scholarship, and added that the foundation’s requirements were not as challenging or academically demanding as they appeared.

    “For Donald, I was one of three applicants in spite of its fairly low GPA requirements,” Dubler said in an e-mail. “It may be intimidating for students to ask for money but I’m not sure what’s going on. [Scholarships] are surprisingly easy to get.”

    The best way to go about snagging these hefty scholarships, she explained, is remaining regional.

    “The best resource is UCSD Financial Aid’s listings as well as San Diego Foundation,” she said. “I didn’t apply to any of the scholarships listed on [] and the other popular search engines since they’re way too competitive.”

    Warren College senior Pouya Jamshidi has also recieved numerous scholarships over the past few years. For his studies in neuroscience, he received $3,000 from the Chancellor’s Scholarship for Undergraduate Research in 2008, which he found under the Undergrad Research Application. In the same year he was awarded the Howard Hues Medical Institute Exceptional Research Scholarship, which chooses one student per university out of 30 nationwide and awards $4,500 for 10 weeks of research. The scholarship paid for both travel expenses and housing, allowing Jamshidi to research last summer at Columbia University with Nobel prize laureate Eric Kandel.

    “The beauty of it is that I got to meet people through these scholarships that have potentially changed my life,” Jamshidi said. “[The scholarships] open many doors and go beyond financial support. So many people say, ‘I don’t need the money.’ It’s not about the money. There are many other layers that these scholarships will open up.”

    Dubler concurs that money is only a small part of the benefits and opportunities that scholarships bring in.

    “After receiving these scholarships, they really did open my doors because the more you get, the more opportunities come your way,” Dubler said. “That’s when I realized it is mostly not about the money. … It’s about credibility and standing out so that other people can find you. That is the hidden incentive for me now.”

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