Tips for Winning College Scholarships:
"Angel's Rules for Winning Scholarships"

Marianne "Angel" Ragins knew by the seventh grade that she wanted to go to college and that financing her education would be her sole responsibility. She spent more than 200 hours filling out scholarship applications, often late at night after completing homework and after working 30 hours per week. Her hard work paid off in the result of over $315,000 in scholarship money -- possibly the largest sum ever received by one student, and all of it through non-athletic awards. Ragins has since written a book, Winning Scholarships For College, in which she offers tips to students and parents applying for college scholarships. Below are the rules she emphasizes in her book:

1. Start in 9th grade

Keep your slate clean, and stay out of trouble. The faculty writes your recommendations, so keep them on your good side.

2. Get involved

Straight A's don't do it alone. A lot of students have good grades and test scores but don't get financial aid. Take part in school activities and community groups. They show your potential.

3. Research

There's lots of money out there. Librarians can show you where to look. If you take the SAT or ACT, check "yes" in the Student Search Service box; you'll be bombarded with brochures. Read them all. Decide what you're interested in.

4. Get your act together

As senior year starts, look back over all you have done -- academics, athletics, clubs, community and church work -- and be sure to put everything on applications. For easy access, keep copies of personal essays, transcripts and reference letters on file.

5. Work

It takes a lot of time to fill out all those forms, but -- if you're reasonably talented -- it should be no problem at all to find money for college.