How to Find a Scholarship & 10 Scholarship Websites You Should Know About
10 Scholarship Websites You Should Know About
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
At this point, you want more information about where to go to access these scholarships we keep referencing. Of course, if there was one single resource that compiled every last available scholarship in the world, we’d all be on it. Therefore, it takes a little work in starting the scholarship search. First, let’s look at where you should get started.
Make Your Scholarship Search List
As we have mentioned, not all scholarships are the same, which is why certain students with a penchant for athletics versus research are more suited for specific kinds of scholarships. Sit down and make a list of everything that makes you… you! This includes your grades, your passions, the clubs you are in, what you want to do with your life, your hobbies, and things that just plain interest you. There’s a scholarship out there for just about any quality or trait that can be used to define your personality.
Don’t forget to include your heritage, culture, and foreign language proficiency. There are many scholarships specifically for Latino Americans or African Americans, designed to provide an extra boost to often marginalized groups of people. Additionally, if you are the child of a person in the armed services, or a veteran yourself, there are specialized scholarships to help you out as well.
Try and make this list as detailed as possible. While you’re engaging this brainstorming session, it will get your creative juices flowing and help you to consider more angles that you might not have previously thought about. Have your parent or friend engage you in the brainstorming to help you think of those lesser-known details.
Where to Start the Scholarship Search
Often times, it’s best to start this process right in your backyard. Local scholarships are awarded on a less competitive basis since you are competing with a smaller pool of applicants than something at the national level.
Although your first instinct might be to aim for a high-dollar, national college scholarship, you are going to be competing with more people – it’s plain and simple. These big scholarships are certainly still an option to consider – big awards like the National Merit Scholarship gives students $2,500 per year, or the Elk National Foundation Most Valuable Student Scholarship provides students with $50,000 over four-years – but at first, you should be trying to gain a foothold in your local scholarship scene.
Additionally, national scholarships aren’t always “bigger” in value than their local counterparts, either. Thomas Jaworski, an independent educational consultant and founder of the Quest College Consulting, stated that the difference between local and national scholarship value is “nearly non-existent.”
Those most intent on landing scholarships for tuition breaks should aim to win multiple local scholarships. When a student is able to secure these local scholarships, they can often outpace those that aim for just one big, highly competitive scholarship.
If you want to find local scholarships, here are some tips for getting the process started:
- Ask Your Guidance Counselors: A great jumping point for local scholarships is through your guidance counselor. They are provided with information regarding scholarships on a yearly basis and they will be happy to share this information with you or your family. Guidance counselors create a space in their office dedicated to scholarships, complete with a list of the deadlines and specifics as well. All you need to do is ask!
- Research Past Local Scholarships: Winning scholarships takes time in effort, there’s no way around it. But, if you take the time to look up past scholarships awarded in your general area, you can contact the school or institution that awards it and ask for more information. Look of profiles of past award recipients as well so you can get an idea of the kind of student they select each time. You can also contact your guidance office and ask to be emailed the senior awards night program from the previous year – they will be able to send you this instantly.
- Use Community Connections: Places of worship, local commerce chambers, and even local businesses are a great place to start with a scholarship search. Many businesses will offer special scholarships if they have had a good year in earnings. You can go door to door or stop in the next chamber of commerce meeting and ask all in attendance about their knowledge. Don’t forget to ask the parents of your kids’ friends, too.
- Attend Community Events: Everything from volunteering to tree planting in the community can be a fun opportunity to learn more about what your community has to offer. Be on the lookout for town hall events and those hosted at parent’s nights, etc. Do your best to attend all of these and learn more about the available scholarships.
- Apply for as Many as Possible: Most public schools have scholarships from sports teams and alumni, to booster clubs and so forth. First start by identifying what kind of niche your child falls into. You can review this information at the start of 9th grade, too, so you can encourage your child to be part of clubs that typically have their own scholarship awards.
- State Scholarship Funds: Did you know that every American state has its own education entity? For example, there is the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance, which offers the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. This scholarship pays for up to eight semesters of tuition at any state school is Massachusetts. Illinois has something similar as well with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which offers the Golden Apple Scholars Scholarship for future teachers.
The more local the scholarship, the better chance you or your child have of winning it.
A strategic mix of local and national scholarships is arguably the best option for helping your child to secure as much free financial support as possible.
Top Scholarship Websites or Online Search Resources
1. ScholarshipOwl.com: All you need to do is visit the site, register, and sit back while it matches you up with available scholarships. Using a specialized algorithm, this scholarship site is able to pair you up with available scholarships that are appropriate given your likes and dislikes. The site will notify you for pairings, as well as due dates and upcoming timelines. You can prioritize applying to these scholarships based on when they are due so you never miss an opportunity.
2. CollegeXpress: Perhaps the biggest scholarship resource online today, CollegeXpress.com can do it all for you. You can search for scholarships based on keywords, categories, and size of financial aid, helping to filter out what you need the most. They also have a colleges search feature if you want to learn more about potential colleges on the site and the people who have attended them. Featured scholarships on the site right now include: Carnegie Dartlet $10,000 Scholarship, the CollegeXpress Refer a Friend Monthly $500 Scholarship, the No Essay Scholarship, the Easy Scholarship: Take a Quiz to Prep for the Elections in Light of COVID-19, $1,000 Christian College EDGE Scholarship, and the $1,000 Cappex Easy Money Scholarship. Check back regularly for new updates and changes.
3. Scholly App: This is an incredibly ingenious app out on the market today. With the Scholly app, you register yourself, your name, your likes, and your talents, and the app pairs you up with available scholarships that match your interests. This way, you can stay up to date on new scholarships or availabilities, as well as timelines, since the ever-changing nature of the scholarship market can seem overwhelming at times.
4. Scholarship Search: Owned by College Board, the Scholarship Search is a website that helps all users find scholarships and other financial aid, plus internships from 2,200 programs. The available scholarships and aid amount to more than $6 billion through the site. You can browse by type of award, academic information, types of colleges, and types of careers that interest you on the site.
5. ScholarshipExperts.com: This site isn’t shy about what they aim to provide you today. You can check out over 3.6 million college scholarships that amount to over $14 billion dollars in total. The site offers different categories as well to make it easy for you to start your search. They include: athletic scholarships, college-specific scholarships, merit-based scholarships, scholarships by state, scholarships by major, scholarships for graduate students, scholarships for high schools, and lastly, scholarships for undergraduate students. They also let you know how many of each type of scholarship are available for each category so you can be totally in the know.
6. FastWeb.com: FastWeb.com provides up to $3 billion scholarships, all matched to you. You can start out be selecting if you are student or parent of student, followed by your zip code to help pair you with local scholarships. This is a great tool for finding more scholarships that are within your region so you have a smaller competition. The site has special scholarships for high school seniors, college freshman, veterans, bilingual students, Hispanic students, and African-American students.
7. CollegeNet.com: This service not only works to develop applications and web-based events, but it also provides an entire search for students who are interested in seeking out updates and newly announced scholarships across the country. The database is updated monthly by the CollegeNet.com team, providing students with new scholarships to review and even vote on once they become a member of the site themselves. CollegeNet.com comes with a licensing agreement to aggregate new information and content related to scholarships, helping you to be in the know.
Different from other sites, CollegeNet.com is interactive, enabling community members to vote on scholarships they want to have featured or promoted. Scholarships that receive the most votes are brought up for users. In addition to providing a lot of these options, the site also has a live forum for students across the country so you can learn about more updates, tips, and tricks for landing the scholarships.
8. FinAid.com: Although this site is very helpful for learning more about financial aid and whatnot, it is also one of the most well-known resources for scholarships. It can help you filter based on your income and education, pairing you with scholarships that are particularly geared towards your information. FinAid.com also provides education and information on spotting scams and other kinds of fraudulent activity in the world of scholarships.
9. ScholarshipMonkey.com: This free online searching database is available for comparing different scholarships available and relevant to your own personal education experience. Claiming to have helped more than one million students find scholarships and advance their dreams, ScholarshipMonkey.com lists over 4,000 sources of scholarships on their site today. They claim to have promoted more than $3 billion worth of scholarships since their launch. Do note: once you become a member of the site, your information will be shared with other educational institutions. However, this might just entice them to reach out to you with tuition breaks and so forth.
10. SallieMae: Yes, we’re talking about the home loan company. This company has made an effort to do more than offer student loan options; they also have an impressive directory for seeking out new scholarships that are potentially suited to you and your career. They have shared more than $18 billion worth in scholarships with millions of students around the world, providing resources and opportunities to people in our country. You simply look up the “Scholarship Search by SallieMae” when you go on the website to start looking. You can even use their college-planning calculator tool and letter analyzer for any type of letters you want to send off to colleges/universities that are appealing to you.
There are plenty of new books every year that come out detailing these available scholarships as well. One example in 2017 was the Scholarships, Grants & Prizes 2017 book by Peterson’s or the College Board’s Scholarship Handbook. Every year, they release updated versions to reflect the latest scholarships. Don’t forget to check out the other options at your local Barnes & Noble as well!
Get in Control of Your Scholarship Situation
Our intention by sharing all of this information with you is to help you avoid any scams or dead-ends when it comes to scholarships. These sites are reputable and a great starting point if you want to make sure you are working within the legal confines today.
Naturally, sites change ownership from time to time, so we do not want to claim that these 10 sites are perfectly safe and legal. At the time of this writing, they appear to be helpful, but please always follow precautions, as well as our check list for spotting a fraudulent scholarship that we provided earlier in this book. If you do your due diligence, you should be fine.
Next, let’s chat with some students who have been recipients of our personal scholarships.