Scholarships are a key part of your overall financial plan for college. The following suggestions will give you an edge as an applicant and help you stand out:
- Search for scholarships that match your unique interests and hobbies. Use a site such as FastWeb to find scholarships based on your club affiliations, academic accomplishments and more. You can also use a simple Google search to find scholarships geared toward your interests (ex: “4-H scholarships”).
- Take the time to write essays. Often, scholarships that require students to submit an essay have fewer applicants, meaning your chances of being selected are higher. It’s worth the extra effort.
- Avoid scams. Be wary of any site that charges a fee to search its database of scholarships or sign up. There are lots of free sites that have access to the same scholarships.
- Avoid online writing services. Students who use paid services to write or edit their scholarship essays are less likely to be chosen because schools will notice a marked difference between their application and essay. These services also do not show the scholarship administrator a genuine version of who you are.
- However, DO ask a friend or teacher to read your essay and application for any mistakes that you may have missed.
- When filling out paper applications, be sure to use neat, legible handwriting.
- Talk to your guidance counselor about scholarships available through the school that you might qualify for.
- Follow all instructions carefully and make sure you are submitting all the required parts (including letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc.).
- Stay organized and know the deadline for each scholarship you are applying for.
- Search locally – look for scholarships offered through area banks, schools, churches, clubs and businesses.
Resources for Scholarship Seekers
The U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid program ensures all eligible individuals can benefit from federally funded financial assistance for education beyond high school. Students must file a FAFSA each year to determine their eligibility for federal aid. Here are resources to help:
Sign up for a Federal Student Aid PIN, which allows you to electronically apply for federal student aid and access your records online.
Use the Federal School Code Search to search for colleges you are interested in including on your FAFSA.
College Board is a trusted source of information about college readiness, academic testing and financial aid. Students can register for upcoming test dates and view practice questions for the SAT. The site also walks students through the process of planning for college and choosing a program of study.
Fastweb is a free scholarship database that matches you with scholarships using the information in their profile. The site also provides information about financial aid, college admissions and student life, as well as helpful calculators and tools.
This site has a wealth of useful information about funding your education with scholarships, loans and savings accounts. It also offers tools to calculate college costs, loan payments, savings and expected family contribution.
Scholarship America is the nation’s largest nonprofit, private-sector scholarship and educational support organization. It offers a resource center with information about test preparation, financial aid, admissions and career exploration. It also provides links to open scholarship opportunities.
This site gives you access to a database of 2.4 million scholarships worth more than $14 billion. You can customize your search by your hobbies, interests and academic background.
Search more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth more than $19 billion. Its College Directory has information about more than 7,000 colleges nationwide, including admission statistics, tuition and fees, and scholarships.
This site matches you with a mentor who can help you determine your academic and career goals, as well as give you advice about interviewing, time management and applying for financial aid.