Becoming a Police Officer: Scholarships (page 2)
There is another way to finance your education that does not entail taking a job or paying back a loan. These are scholarships. As discussed in the workstudy section, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the basic document that helps you determine the types of aid for which you are qualified and how much aid you may receive, whether in the form of grants, work-study awards, or loans. At the same time you are working your way through the FAFSA procedures, you should also be looking into scholarships as another way to help you pay your way through school.
Truthfully, there is not much funding from within the law enforcement community for students who are not in-service police officers. That does not mean, though, that your entire education must be financed out of your own pocket. Federal, state, or local police fraternal groups of women and minority officers may have scholarship programs. Although each group may have only a handful of scholarships available, they are generally not well-publicized, so checking with these groups may result in a small amount of funding directly. Many of the professional associations described in Appendix A provide small scholarships to applicants who match their criteria. In addition to the national groups, local chapters may also assist you. Some scholarships are restricted to the children of members; others will consider any applicant with an interest in a law enforcement career. For instance, the National Sheriff's Association's (NSA) scholarship program is open to employees in sheriffs' offices across the country as well as their children. State sheriffs' associations also sponsor scholarships, awarding them to applicants in law enforcement programs and to upper level criminal justice majors.
Even if the group cannot help you directly, a group member may introduce you to local businesspeople or civic associations that will help you either directly with funds or through part-time employment to help defray your costs. If you are the spouse, child, or in any way related to someone currently in law enforcement, you may be eligible for scholarships set aside specifically for this purpose.
Since the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), some communities have made scholarship monies available for individuals studying in the fields of law enforcement and public safety. The Police Corp Scholarship Program is a federal effort that provides renewable scholarships toward undergraduate degrees in return for going through Police Corp training and serving four years in at-risk communities after graduation.
You or your parents' employers, union, church, veterans association, ethnic heritage organization, or social group may sponsor scholarships. Some scholarships have an economic need component, but not all do. Others may include an element of academic merit; you may be asked to submit a paper you wrote for class or write an essay specifically as part of the scholarship application.
Whole books are written about the types of scholarships, who sponsors them, and who is eligible, yet no one book covers the subject completely. Schools offering law enforcement-related majors often have listings of scholarship funds available for students pursuing those degrees. There are other guidebooks that list scholarships available through each school. By sorting through these lists, you may be able to come up with schools that could match both your academic preferences and your financial assistance requirements.
For federal tuition assistance, FAFSA functions as a master document; there is no similar centralization in seeking out scholarships. You will have to complete an application form for each scholarship you apply for. Even though much of the information requested on each application is the same, you will have to do each one individually. Some scholarships are available through competitive testing, some are based on where you live, what school you plan to attend, or the high school from which you graduated.
A major part of applying for scholarships, and internships as well, is the resume. The word resume is borrowed from French and means summary. The resume is a brief outline of who you are and what you have accomplished up to this point in your life. This definition may make it seem that a resume is simple to prepare, but the opposite is true. You should not ramble on about yourself. A resume should be a one-page, at most two-page, document highlighting your education and work experience up to the present. There are websites, library books, and aids that advisors can provide on resume writing. Most will advise you to put your name, address, and contact information at the top. Other information is grouped by topic: educational background, work experience or employment history, outside activities including memberships, personal interests, hobbies and activities, and references. References should be handled in one of two ways. If this is a one-of-a-kind resume intended for a specific person or organization and references were asked for, then you should provide the contact information for those who will recommend you. As a general rule, however, you may also use the phrases "references upon request," so the people you have lined up to speak or write on your behalf are not contacted every time you send your resume with an application. Resumes may get circulated widely; do not include your Social Security number or your personal e-mail address. Since you may at some point be asked for an e-mail address, if yours is in any way in questionable taste or obscure, set up a screen name that is more businesslike. How you choose to present your life and education on your resume is your choice. But remember that a resume is designed to make an employer want to interview you or a donor to offer you money to further your education.
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