Tips for applying for scholarships and using SmarterSelect

  • Start searching for scholarships early. Check out our Resource Center for a college preparation timeline.
  • Answer all optional questions on scholarship-matching websites.
  • Use a free scholarship matching service such as
  • Look for local scholarships on bulletin boards in your school and at libraries.
  • Apply to every scholarship you are eligible for.
  • Read and follow the instructions for the scholarship application process.
  • Create an outline to help you write your application/admission essay.
  • Personalize your essay and be passionate! Write on subjects that you are knowledgeable about.
  • Proofread and spell check your application and essay.
  • Keep copies of your applications and any supporting materials.
  • Google your name and make sure you have a professional online profile.

SmarterSelect Tips

  • Select a unique email and password for your student log-in.  Please keep your information confidential.  We will communicate with you via email regarding your scholarship application, so please check it frequently.  If you forget your log-in password, you may reset it during the log-in phase however, we recommend using a desktop computer to complete this task.

  • Keep the required college/financial documents in a centralized safe location.  These include but are not limited to: Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), College Acceptance Letter, College Financial Aid Award Letter, and a copy of your transcript from your most recently attended institution.

  • Print off copies of all of your submitted applications.  We also recommend storing them in a safe location.  The HCEF will not be liable for any incomplete applications caused by transmittal errors, communication errors, or other submission conflicts.