1.) How will I know who won?
The official announcement of our winners is made four weeks after the close of the scholarship round. Our committee meets to select winners 7 - 10 days after the close of the scholarship round. At that time, the winners are contacted via email to confirm eligibility. Winners are given 7 days to respond and provide eligibility documentation. If a winner is not eligible to accept the scholarship, the award defaults to one of the other finalists. After eligibility has been confirmed, we announce our winners on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/teamoptimal), as well as on our winner archive (www.optimal.com/scholarships). The social media announcement is made four weeks after the close of the scholarship round.
2.) Do I have to be enrolled?
Unless otherwise stated, our scholarships are currently only available to U.S. residents who are enrolled at an accredited institute of higher learning in the United States. Students must be enrolled at the school for which the award will be applied, and they should have a student ID number with their school. We pay the scholarship check directly to the school on the student’s behalf and we reference the student’s name and student ID number in the memo field of the check.
3.) Is this scholarship only available to undergrad students?
No. The Community College scholarship and Undergraduate scholarship are for students working towards a certificate, diploma or degree at the undergraduate level. The graduate scholarship is for students working towards a certificate, diploma or degree at the post-Bachelor’s level.
4.) What are the eligibility rules for each category of scholarship?
Applicants for the Military Scholarship must be students who are veterans or active members of the U.S. military and are enrolled at a private or public educational institution, and working towards a certificate, diploma or degree. They can also be the sons, daughters or spouses of active military members or veterans. Sons, daughters and spouses of deceased veterans or deceased active duty members are also eligible. Children of service members/veterans must be under the age of 21, or if they have full-time status, under the age of 23.
Applicants for the Community College Scholarship must be students enrolled at a public community college, junior college, technical college or city college, and working towards a certificate, diploma or degree at the Associate’s level or a first-time Bachelor’s level.
Applicants for the Undergraduate Scholarship must be students enrolled at a private or public educational institution, and working towards a certificate, diploma or degree at the Associate’s level or a first-time Bachelor’s level.
Applicants for the Graduate Scholarship must be students enrolled at a private or public educational institution, and working towards a certificate, diploma or degree at the post-Bachelor’s level.
For all scholarships, students must be enrolled at an accredited post-secondary academic institution, they must be a legal resident of the U.S., and they must be at least 16 years of age.
5.) Do I have to provide any personal information?
Our application form includes standard contact information (name, phone, email, city, state) which will only be used to communicate with applicants who submit their information. We do not share this information with outside organizations.
6.) What is Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount determined by your Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) report. This is a numerical estimate of the parents’ and/or student’s ability to contribute to his or her education. Though this is a useful number when establishing financial need, it is by no means the primary determining factor in our selection committee's process. Often, scholarship applicants will have a high EFC, but due to circumstances, their actual available contribution might fall well below that number. We ask that you provide the number outlined in the FAFSA and take the opportunity to elaborate on your financial situation or circumstances that might qualify you for our scholarship in the short essay responses.
7.) When are applications due?
Applications are due at at 11:59 pm Eastern Time on the scholarship deadline date.
8.) Are international students eligible?
At this time, our scholarships are only available to students enrolled at U.S. institutions of higher learning. International students studying in the U.S. must be legal U.S. residents. If you hold resident status at a U.S. university, you may be eligible to apply for our scholarships — remember, this is a tax distinction, rather than immigration. If you are a legal U.S. resident alien, you are eligible. Your school’s admissions and financial aid departments should be able to help you make the distinction.
9.) Why do you exclude applications from Rhode Island, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands?
These states/territories have specific restrictions regarding awards of this nature. If you have questions regarding your eligibility, please contact us.
10.) How do I submit my eligibility material?
All eligibility is confirmed after a winner has been selected, so you don't need to worry about submitting FAFSA, proof of residency, DD214 Military, or other eligibility material unless we contact you and request the information. The only thing you need to submit for the application process is the electronic application form and short-answer essays - which can be completed entirely online.
11.) What if I have questions or require further information?
The best and quickest way to get your questions answered is to send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you experience any issues with your submission, please send us an email explaining the issue. Do not submit your application by email. All scholarship applications must be submitted online through our online application form. We are not able to accept applications via email at this time.