One of the most overlooked ways of paying for college is to find college scholarships through your chamber of commerce. Your chamber of commerce is made up of a collection of local business owners who are always looking for creative ways to help out those in their community. One of the ways they help is as a source of scholarship opportunities.
Finding Scholarships to Help You Pay for College
Consider the following statistics about paying for college:
The average amount families spent on college in 2015-2016 was $23,688.
$29,411 was the average total debt for 2015 college graduates who took out loans.
As searching for financial aid opportunities, scholarships, and grants has become a part-time job, students and their parents need all the help they can get. Just the idea of researching scholarships you qualify for and that you have a realistic shot at winning is a daunting task. That’s why you need to use every resource available to you!
After all, college scholarships have become an important part of every family’s financial plan for paying for college. Local scholarship opportunities, either through your chamber of commerce or other sources, typically have fewer applicants, raising your chance of winning the award.
While these scholarships are usually for smaller amounts than national awards, every little bit helps ease the burden of earning your college degree. One way is to find college scholarships through your chamber of commerce.
Tips for Students!
Avoid falling prey to scholarship predators or scams! Remember that you should never have to pay money for scholarship opportunities.
What Is a Chamber of Commerce?
A chamber of commerce is an organization of businesses that voluntarily form in order to further their own interests, as well as to promote and advance their communities, regions, states, and countries.
Chambers of commerce are not restricted to one geographic area, town, or region, though many do adopt the name of the region they operate in, such as the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce or the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce. However, this is by choice and is not mandatory.
Usually, members are private-sector employers and share a common interest in promoting the prosperity of the community or region. This can be through engaging in cross-promotional marketing efforts, supporting business-friendly legislation, and acting as a local resource for businesses, residents, and tourists.
What Does the Chamber of Commerce Do?
Typically, chambers of commerce have four primary goals, which are:
Building communities that attract residents and investors (whether towns, states, or nations)
Promoting these communities
Ensuring future prosperity via a pro-business environment
Representing the unified voice of the employer community
Every chamber of commerce is a voluntary organization and is not a government association. However, most chambers work closely with the government (local, state, or national) in order to create a better business environment.
Often, chambers are looking for ways to create a strong bond with their community. One of these ways is to promote learning and advancing the education of residents or students in a chamber’s area.
Find College Scholarships Through Your Chamber of Commerce
Now that you know what a chamber is, you’re probably wondering how it helps you find a college scholarship.
First and foremost, many chambers of commerce offer their own scholarships. This may be a general scholarship that anyone can apply to, or it can be more specific. This may include: (1) scholarships for incoming freshman, (2) returning college students, (3) for students majoring in a specific subject, (4) or many other variations.
Also, sometimes businesses that are members of the chamber offer their own scholarships. Typically, this is to create goodwill in the community and help the next generation of business professionals receive an education.
Plus, your local chamber may have information on other scholarships outside of your town or region, as well as the contacts to introduce you to some of the board members.
What a Chamber of Commerce Can Do for You
Chambers usually offer a number of different college scholarships. Many are dedicated to former chairs or active members of the chamber or business community.
Scholarships typically look for applicants who meet some of the following requirements:
Active participation in the community
Students with financial need
Involvement in industry professional organizations
Strong professional background
Keep in mind that these are just some of the requirements for college scholarships offered through chambers of commerce. However, that doesn’t mean that others don’t exist.
It’s important for you to check out a number of different options in order to find college scholarships through your chamber of commerce that meet your needs and your goals. In addition, each chamber of commerce that offers scholarships may have their own requirements.
Some chambers of commerce that offer multiple scholarship opportunities may have options that are very specific, such as:
Specific program or degree (Architecture, engineering, science, etc.)
Current profession or volunteer work (EMT, tutor, ASPCA, etc.)
Certain ethnicities or religious affiliations
These types of scholarships are often designed in order to help members of the chamber’s community achieve their academic goals. However, some of these are set up so that if no qualifying applicant appears, the scholarship funds go to the main, or general scholarship. Other chambers may roll the money over to the next year’s award.
Be sure to read all of the requirements carefully before applying, as every chamber of commerce that offers scholarships may have their own requirements.
Types of College Scholarships at Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Many chambers of commerce offer a variety of scholarships. Some of these are:
General scholarships through the chamber of commerce
Specific scholarships based on ethnicity, residency, or program
Scholarships through member businesses or organizations
Scholarships tied to a specific, local community college or university
Every chamber has their own rules and regulations. Therefore, while many chambers offer scholarships in order to build a relationship with the next generation of professionals and to nurture good relations inside of the community, chambers are not required to offer scholarship opportunities. Keep that in mind in order to find college scholarships through your chamber of commerce.
However, even if your local chamber doesn’t offer any scholarships, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still a valuable resource. Many organizations that offer scholarships to local residents reach out to the chamber of commerce in order to promote their scholarship, and―at the same time―their business, organization, or charity.
How to Approach Chamber of Commerce for College Scholarships
Often, there are a variety of ways to find college scholarships through your chamber of commerce. After all, scholarships are offered to help students pay for college. Therefore, they want students to apply.
Some easy steps to follow to approach your local chamber of commerce to find college scholarships are:
Step 1: Check the Website:
Often, the website for a chamber of commerce is the best starting point. Typically, it offers information on upcoming events, meetings, members, as well as college scholarships, the requirements, and how to apply.
Step 2: Email:
Most of the time, if a chamber of commerce offers college scholarships, the specific requirements and applications are easy to find. However, if they’re not, usually there are a number of email addresses throughout the site for you to contact. The best one to start with is usually the [email protected] your chamber of commerce email address.
In addition, there is usually a page with a list of members or board of directors with their websites, emails, and other contact information. If mentioned, start with the person in charge of the scholarship. If that email is unavailable, start with the President and work your way down the list.
Step 3: Phone Call:
If all else fails, do what everyone used to do back in the Stone Age before text messaging existed: Pick up your phone and call the office. If the number isn’t posted on the scholarship page, it can usually be found on the bottom of the website, or on the Contact Us page.
This number may or may not have someone available to answer it all day during normal business hours. If no one picks up, leave a polite message with your contact information. As it may have been awhile since you left a voicemail, remember to speak slowly and clearly, and state the best number to reach you at twice.
If your phone call isn’t returned in a day or two, go to the Board of Directors or Members page and start by calling the President, then working your way down the list until you get the information you’re looking for.
Step 4: Go to the office or a meeting:
As mentioned above, most chambers have an office that is staffed with a couple of people throughout the day. If this is the case with your chamber and you haven’t been able to get the information about college scholarships, then just go directly to the office. Normally, those at the office will be happy to help.
If there is no office address listed on the website, usually the website will have a list of upcoming events, which should include upcoming meetings. Normally, these are open meetings that accept public visitors. However, double check beforehand to make sure you’re not barging in on a private meeting.
Remember, if your local chamber offers scholarships, they are typically looking for strong applicants to award the money to. This helps promote the chamber as an active member of the community, as well as the businesses involved. Therefore, it usually isn’t that difficult to find the information.
However, at times, there are obstacles. If you don’t find the information you’re looking for on your first attempt (or fifth!), remember to stay professional and courteous. Being rude to the receptionist―or leaving a nasty message on the president’s voicemail about how no one has responded to you―may disqualify you from winning the award.
Steps to Find College Scholarships Through Your Chamber of Commerce
Step 1: Check Website
Look for College Scholarships page, requirements, and application.
Step 2: Email
Check Scholarships page, Contact Us page, or look for the contact information of members.
Step 3: Phone Call
Call the chamber’s office, Scholarships contact, or specific members.
Step 4: Go to Office
Go to your chamber’s office or to the next public meeting.
Other Resources for College Scholarships
If for some reason you can’t find college scholarships through your chamber of commerce, there are many other resources available.
Use Your Chamber of Commerce to Find College Scholarships!
When it comes to paying for college, it’s important that you use every resource available to you. Don’t forget to find college scholarships through your chamber of commerce. Use the steps mentioned above to see if your chamber offers scholarships or if they have a list of scholarships available to local residents. Remember: They want to help you apply!