• Scholarship Smarts
  • Finding and Getting Scholarships

Finding Scholarships You Qualify For

You may have heard that there are scholarships out there "with your name on them." Trouble is, you have to go out and find them. Here's how.

It is quite possible that you will get financial aid—including scholarships—from the college you attend. 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 the Scholarship Finder. But before you get started, take a few minutes to think about what makes you unique. For example, did you know there are scholarships for left-handed people? And don't forget your parents. Their residency, heritage, employment, memberships, etc. can all lead to scholarship opportunities.

Below are some search factors that can yield numerous scholarships. If you get too many results, try narrowing down your search using one or more additional factors. The more qualifications you meet, the more likely you are to win the award.

  • Major or general area of study
  • Career plans
  • Gender
  • GPA
  • State or county of residence
  • Ethnicity/heritage
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Special condition
  • Talent
  • Occupation
  • Employer
  • College location
  • Military and veteran status
  • Sexual orientation

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 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.

Going Local

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.

Note: Financial information provided on this site is of a general nature and may not apply to your situation. Contact a financial or tax advisor before acting on such information.

What's Next?

Use the Scholarship Finder to search 595,000 awards worth more than $4.5 billion.

Be a smart scholarship shopper. See Don't Believe These Popular Scholarship Myths.