Scholarships Take Work, But The Payoff Can Be Great

Scholarships Take Work, But The Payoff Can Be Great
Architecture major Hector Gonzalez recently applied for five scholarships – one of which awarded him $10,000.

Diligence has paid off for Cal Poly Pomona sophomore Hector Gonzalez, who applies quarterly for at least five scholarships.

His hard work has resulted in a $10,000 payday, thanks to a scholarship from Century 21 Real Estate LLC. The scholarship was available to him in part because his mother works for the company.

“Out of the five, it was the one I expected the least,” the Architecture major says. “I thought the woman calling from Century 21 was calling to let me know I didn't get it.”

To accept his award, the company will be flying Gonzalez and two guests to Las Vegas to attend the company's annual international convention on March 12 and 13. Gen. Colin Powell is the keynote speaker and Comedian Howie Mandel is the entertainment.

“I imagine it was very competitive. I know Cal Poly Pomona and its great Architecture program gave me an edge,” Gonzalez says. “The scholarship was based on academics and financial need. I still can't believe that I am one of three chosen winners from across the country.”

Peggy Campbell, Cal Poly Pomona's scholarship specialist in the Office of Financial Aid, lauds Gonzalez for his success and encourages other students to follow in his footsteps.

“There are so many scholarships,” Campbell says. “It is time consuming for students to do the research and apply, but it is well worth it.”

Cal Poly Pomona offers more than $1 million in scholarships annually to students, and there are thousands of external scholarships available, like the lucrative Century 21 scholarship.

Scholarships are generally awarded on the basis of academic merit, leadership, talent, and/or community service. Financial need is a criterion for some but not all scholarships.

The Office of Financial Aid administers more than 300 scholarships annually. This includes institutional scholarships, outside agency scholarships, individual donor scholarships and several other sources. During the winter 2007 quarter, more than 700 external scholarship awards for students passed through the Office of Financial Aid.

Additionally many more scholarships are available through departments and colleges.

“We really try to stress to the students that they should also check with their departments and colleges on campus,” Campbell says.  

The Internet has become an easy tool to find scholarships. Gonzalez, for instance, uses a free search engine at to keep tabs on available scholarships.  

However, students should shy away from fee-based search engines. It is not reasonable for a student to pay a fee for a service that the Office of Financial Aid can provide. Students can also do research on their own, Campbell says.

“There is no reason why students should have to pay just to learn about what scholarships are available,” she says.

For more information about Cal Poly Pomona's Office of Financial Aid visit: