You may have heard that there are scholarships out there "with your name on them" or "just waiting for you." Trouble is, you have to find them. Read on.
It is quite possible that you will get financial aid through the college you attend. This aid may include scholarships, grants, and other awards you don't have to repay. But how do you find college money on your own?
The Best Scholarship Search: Fast, Fruitful, and Free
One easy and productive way to find this money is to use free online scholarship search tools, such as CollegeData's Scholarship Finder. Just select or enter the factors you think might qualify you for scholarships and the search engine will comb the database for any matching awards.
Below are some search factors that can yield numerous scholarships. If one factor yields too many results, try narrowing it down using one or more other factors. The more uniquely you qualify, the more likely your chances of winning the award. And don't forget your parents. Their residency, heritage, employment, memberships, etc. can all lead to scholarship opportunities.
- Major or general area of study
- Career plans
- State or county of residence
- Special condition
- College location
- Military and veteran status
- Sexual orientation
Take a few minutes to think about what makes you unique. For example, did you know there are scholarships for left-handed people?
Other Ways to Find Scholarships
Printed scholarship directories can be helpful. These publications are updated annually, so make sure the edition you are reviewing is a recent one. You can find these directories at bookstores, such as the CollegeData Bookstore, or at your local library.
Clubs, foundations, and associations with which you have some connection or interest may offer scholarships. You can also try government agencies involved in education, such as state education offices.
Local scholarships are often the easiest to get because there is less competition and the scholarship judges may already be familiar with you or your family. Your high school counselor probably has local scholarship information. Local chambers of commerce can also help you connect with community sources that may offer scholarships.
Here are some other local sources you can try:
- Your and your parents' employers
- Local businesses
- Local community and service organizations
- Local chapters of clubs, foundations, and associations
- Local religious groups
- City and county education offices
- Your library
Start Now (If You Haven't Already)
You can begin your search—and your applications—anytime. Some scholarships are available to high school juniors, or even sophomores and freshmen. It makes sense to start early, since much of your extra time in your senior year will be taken up with college applications.
Pay close attention to the deadlines and requirements for each scholarship. Some ask you not to apply until a certain date. Some are open year-round. Some require a separate application and supporting documents, such as your high school transcript.
Sometimes it's hard to get started, especially if you think the application requires a lot of heavy-duty research. To get motivated, look upon it as a treasure hunt, and you won't be far from the truth.