Scholarships for Volunteers Reward Students Who Give Back

There are local and national funds available to students volunteering in their communities.

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We all know that colleges look at more than just your GPA and SAT score when deciding whether or not to admit you. Being a volunteer is a huge asset when applying to college. It sets you apart from other students and displays dedication to and involvement in your community.

[Read more about the importance of community service on college applications.]

Plus, there are personal benefits to volunteering. Not only does it make you feel good to have an impact on your community, but you may also be rewarded with one of the many scholarships available to volunteers.

Whether you're just starting your college search or are already in college, there are tons of scholarships for volunteers like you. And after you've read through the scholarships featured below, be sure to check out our previous post about scholarships for volunteers.

The first place you should start is with your local Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars chapter. Many of the 1,000 nationwide chapters offer scholarships based on a combination of academics and volunteerism.

Plus, you can also apply for Scholarship America's national Volunteer of the Year Award through your local chapter. Local winners receive a $500 scholarship, and the top 10 applicants are automatically entered to win the national Volunteer of the Year Award from Scholarship America, worth $2,000.

These two scholarships result in a total of $2,500, which can make a dent in your college expenses. The program opens in early 2013; contact your local Dollars for Scholars chapter for more information.

[Explore other scholarships for public service.]

After starting local, widen your search to national scholarships, such as the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which recognizes outstanding community service efforts and youth leadership. Twenty-five leaders, ages 8 to 18, will be recognized; 10 winners will receive $2,500 each, which can either go to their service project or the winner's education.

Students must be nominated by a non-relative familiar with their volunteer work. The application deadline is April 30, 2013, but you'll want to get started with your community service project now.

The AXA Achievement Community Scholarship Program is also currently accepting applicants. This program awards up to twelve $2,000 scholarships per AXA adviser branch, meaning there are more than 300 scholarships available to students involved in their communities.

To be eligible, you must show ambition and motivation through community involvement and leadership. The application deadline is February 1, or whenever the program receives 10,000 applications—so the earlier you apply the better.

AXA Equitable also sponsors the AXA Achievement Scholarship, in partnership with Scholarship America and in association with U.S. News, awarding a renewable $10,000 scholarship to each state winner with the potential of winning an additional $15,000 in the national competition. The application period is currently closed, but check back next year for more details about this opportunity.

[Stay on top of scholarship deadlines.]

Plenty of other volunteer-oriented scholarships are also opening soon. The Lowe's Scholarship is open for applications December 15, and awards 140 scholarships worth $2,500 each to high school seniors who display community involvement and leadership.

Other scholarships to look for later in the year include the Target All-Around Scholarship (to request an application, call 1-800-316-6142), the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards (September 2013), and the Heart of America Christopher Reeve Award (September 2013).

Finally, check the websites of the specific colleges to which you're applying, as many of them offer scholarships for volunteerism. We also recommend checking if your college participates in the Bonner Scholars Program, which allows students with demonstrated financial need to participate in community service as their work-study opportunity.

[Explore other ways to pay for college.]

Whether you've started your own volunteer organization or you only volunteer once a week, there are scholarships out there to reward you for all your hard work. Start your search now and keep giving back to the world!

Rebecca McCrory interned at Scholarship America in 2012. She attends Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., and is majoring in sociology and minoring in statistics.