Abby Marion never gives up, so we gave in. She's the ninth Debt.com scholarship winner.

This is how Abby Marion applied for the Debt.com Scholarship for Aggressive Scholarship Applicants

“I’ve never survived a catastrophic disease, wasn’t ranked number one in my class in high school, and haven’t cured cancer or invented the next new gadget.”

That got my attention. So did this: She’s applied for 276 scholarships. The University of Florida junior is tenacious — Marion applied for Debt.com’s scholarship seven of the eight times it’s been offered. So we couldn’t not give it to her this time.

In a nation crushed by student loan debt, Marion is paying her own way toward a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education and Communications. It’s an achievement she’s most proud of: “I have taken this initiative to pay for my education on my own, which I have been able to do 100 percent thus far, and I hope to continue in the future in my junior and senior years of school.”

How can she do this? Of those 276 scholarship applications, she’s won 45. That’s a success rate of 16 percent. So what’s it worth?

“I don’t disclose the exact amount,” Marion says, “but it’s been enough to cover my first three years of college entirely — with some left over for my senior year.”

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Of course, even finding 276 scholarships to apply for is no small feat. Marion has a sound tactic: Search out smaller scholarships that, by definition, won’t have a lot of applicants, “like one for students of Norwegian descent and one open to third-year agricultural communications students with digital work experience.”

She’s so successful at hunting and bagging scholarships, “I enjoy helping others with their own scholarship journeys and have led workshops for younger students.”

Among her advice…

  • “Keep a ‘brag sheet’ — a running document covering all of your accomplishments that you can edit as needed to use to make filling out applications easier.”
  • “Give them exactly what they’re looking for – if the prompt asks, ‘Why should I receive a scholarship,’ there should be a sentence within it saying ‘I deserve this scholarship because…’ and use the rest of the words to explain how awesome you are!”
  • “Never give up.”

Marion has a 3.7 GPA and hopes to graduate next year and work “for an agriculture-related non-profit, like a county/state fair, commodity organization like a Cattlemen’s Association. or the National Pork Board.” Eventually, she’s like to teach agriculture “on a  junior-high level.” She can already teach a class on how pay for college without taking out student loans.

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Article last modified on July 25, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .