Houston college student shares secrets to getting scholarship funds

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Now is the time of year many high school seniors make big decisions about college. For some, the problem is figuring out how to pay the steep price of tuition.

When a University of Houston-Downtown student faced that dilemma she started searching and discovered thousands of dollars in available scholarships.

With every flower she cuts, college senior Brittney Burton is closer to graduation. It's a hobby turned part time job that helped her pay for school.

"I have six siblings. It's hard to pay for college for six people," said Burton.

But when arranging flowers didn't cover her college costs, Burton started a second part time job searching and applying for scholarships.

"In the past two years I have earned a little over $15,000 in scholarships and for my first year of grad school so far I've earned a little over $13,000," she said.

She's been so successful that now she helps others.

Honors student Eisha Khan is getting her degree for free.

"I haven't paid a cent to the university for anything so I feel very blessed," Kahn said.

Senior Aracely Garcia has earned $7,000.

"I haven't had to pay out of my own pocket," Garcia said.

And will be the first in her family to graduate from college.

"It's definitely worth it," said Garcia.

So we asked Brittney to share her secrets to help you get scholarship money for college.

First, she says follow the application instructions carefully.

"If they wanted black ink -- it's in black ink. If they want it in print, then it's in print," said Brittney. "Even those simple things can get an application thrown out."

Next, don't overlook small dollar amounts.

"Every $500 scholarship I've ever applied for I've gotten and it might be because most people don't apply for them," said Brittney. "They're easier essays, smaller applications."

Then, read the small print.

"I actually applied for a LULAC scholarship, which is the League of United Latin American Citizens, because it said in the small print 'we encourage all ethnicities to apply' so I did and I got it," she said.

But her best advice is to build a binder of applications, transcripts, and essays so you're always ready.

"I'd find an application that I qualified for that was due in a week and I had everything already for it," said Brittney.

"I think once you have everything in order applying is not the hard part anymore," said Khan.

And one final piece of advice...

"Britney taught me that a lot of the times GPA isn't that much of a factor for certain of the scholarships -- service work matters," said Garcia.
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