Finding a college scholarship should top everyone’s list. They’re as diverse as colleges, don’t need to be repaid, and account for billions of dollars in aid every year.
Federal, state, and college scholarships are usually awarded based on financial aid applications like the FAFSA and CSS Profile. But there are plenty of other places to look for scholarships too. A great place to start is online with search platforms where you can filter scholarships to find the best match, like:
Don’t forget to look closer to home. National searches might not include state and town scholarships. And your employer or place of worship could have scholarship opportunities of their own.
1. Stay organized
Track scholarship requirements and deadlines however it works for you. It’s critical to get everything in on time — and the earlier the better.
Colleges only have so much money to put toward merit and need-based scholarships. And they start awarding money before deadlines even pass.
Students need to understand what they’re applying to and only focus on what they’re qualified for.
2. Make sure your student meets the criteria
Each scholarship typically has its own requirements. A student wouldn’t apply for a scholarship through the school of engineering if they weren’t pursuing one of those degrees. Students need to understand what they’re applying to and only focus on what they’re qualified for.
3. Look for renewable scholarships
There are scholarships that could follow students through the better part of college — if they meet renewal requirements like a minimum GPA. Once a student is awarded one of these scholarships, they’ll need to keep it.
Five $2,000 scholarships are just as good as one $10,000 scholarship.
4. Don’t pass on small scholarships
Scholarships on the smaller side tend to have fewer applicants, which increases a student’s chances of being awarded. Five $2,000 scholarships are just as good as one $10,000 scholarship.
Money is money. And the less money you pay out of pocket, the better.
5. Continue the search beyond high school
Scholarships don’t dry up after high school. There are plenty of opportunities for college students too. Once enrolled, use the financial aid office as a resource. And remember to stay on top of renewable scholarships!
6. Be street smart
Unfortunately, scholarship scams exist. Be wary of private scholarships that require upfront fees to apply — especially if they guarantee award money.
And be careful with personal information. Some scholarship providers may ask for things like a Social Security number. Even if it’s not a scam, they could share this information with third parties like marketers. Research the company before you hand over information.
7. Keep asking questions
After securing an outside scholarship, people often worry, “Will this impact my financial aid package?” We’ve got an answer from one of our member college experts. See what it is >>