How to Find Scholarships for College
We’ve all been told that college is expensive, and heard the horror stories of students who accumulate so much debt they could swim in it. Yet, the biggest obstacle between students and money to pay for college is not horror stories. It’s the inability to find free aid and the tediousness of scholarship applications. This blog covers the first half of this challenge. Click here to learn about the scholarship application process and how to prepare for college expenses.
Scholarships and grants are free money awarded to help students pay for college. While grants are often based on financial need, scholarships may be given based on financial need, merit, interests, heritage, and so on. Neither has to be repaid, unlike loans. You’ll want to apply for scholarships and grants early (before you enter college and have less time to complete applications) and continue applying throughout your schooling experience.
What and Where to Search
Aside from simply Googling “scholarships,” you can find information about free financial aid through specific web searches such as scholarships for students with certain skills, talents, medical conditions, majors or areas of interest, and a specific background. Studentaid.gov, a resource for federal student aid, recommends seeking scholarship information through a university’s financial aid office, high school counselors, your local library, foundations, organizations, businesses, and your parent or guardian’s place of employment.
The most comprehensive collection of scholarships and grants will be through financial aid databases. Sites like Fastweb and the U.S Department of Labor’s careeronestop.org are free, easy to use, contain details about the college process, and relay how to avoid financial scams.
Here Are a Few Sites to Get You Started:
Studentaid.gov: This website for The U.S. Department of Education guides students and parents through each part of the financial aid process, from simply learning about scholarships, grants, and loans to creating a personalized plan to repay any loans. Here you can also access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
A note for Florida residents: The FAFSA is a must to receive aid through Bright Futures and Florida Effective Access to Student Education Grant (the EASE grant, formerly known as the Florida Resident Access Grant, or FRAG).
College Board: College Board is a nonprofit organization that provides college and career readiness help to students and parents. You may already be familiar with this website if you are enrolled in AP courses or planning to CLEP college courses. You can browse their list of financial aid opportunities through their Big Future scholarship search.
Scholarships.com: In addition to their college search tool, this database allows students and parents to sift through over 3.7 million scholarship and grant options. Students will find scholarships of all kinds, including ones from sites like Niche that do not require an essay. It also offers resources for educators and school counselors to better prepare students for post-secondary plans.
International Scholarships: If you are interested in studying abroad at some point in your college career, InternationalScholarships.com can connect you with over 1,000 scholarship, loan, and grant programs to fund international learning.
Scholarships and Financial Aid at SEU: This webpage contains materials for undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, and evening/online students to understand the financial aid opportunities available through SEU and develop a payment plan for college. Additionally, you can learn how to complete the FAFSA and check the status of financial clearance.