College is expensive–that’s no secret.
You fill out the FAFSA and see how much financial aid the government will give you. The college you’re going to sends you a financial aid award letter. But there’s usually still a nice chunk of change left that you have to pay out of pocket (here’s a guide on how to pay for college).
That leftover amount can be covered in one of three ways: You (or your parents) can pay for it, you can take out private loans, or you can make friends with the scholarship gods.
I just googled “college scholarships” and there were 114,000,000 results. That’s crazy! So where should you start? Because no one has time to go through millions of websites.
Most online scholarship databases ask you to fill out information about yourself. The more you plug in (academic, personal, affiliations, etc.) the more specific your search will be. This could end up saving you a lot of time. The search will generate a list of best scholarship sites that you’re eligible for–you don’t have to sift through millions of applications only to realize you don’t meet the criteria.
Here are 5 excellent college scholarship search sites you should check out:
1. Big Future (College Board)
Roughly $6 billion is available in awards through this website!
The Big Future website (created by College Board) not only has an excellent scholarship search engine, but it also links you with other kinds of awards. For example, your search might also include potential internships, loans, federal financial aid, or research grants. You can also note that you’d like to be considered for scholarships based on academic achievement, financial need, or both.
From the information you provide, a list of scholarships is created. Each scholarship or award is listed by name, sponsor, type of award, due date, and amount. Very streamlined and easy to navigate.
Scholarships.com also requires you to fill out a profile. They will also provide information about other types of aid (e.g., grants, loans, etc.).
This site is kind of nice because it allows you to sort which scholarships you’re interested in applying for. Because you have a username, you can log in and out to complete applications at your own pace.
While their scholarship database is updated daily, they also offer a weekly newsletter to keep you up-to-date on new scholarships, nearing deadlines, and all things high school & college news related.
Fastweb is unique in that it takes your strengths, skills, and interests into account as part of your profile. Not just your grades and test scores, but what you hope to someday accomplish.
As with these other sites, the scholarship lists generated is based on your profile, and all are applicable to you.
Fastweb also provides resources on scholarship scams. While we’re all scrambling to find money to cover the rising cost of tuition, remember to be cautious. If something seems too good to be true, it just might be.
The Sallie Mae scholarship search is home to over 5 million college scholarships and worth up to $24 billion! They also have a $1,000 monthly drawing. Nothing beats effortless, free money.
Again, you start by registering and filling out a profile. Then, when new scholarships are added that match your needs, you get an email.
Sallie Mae is one of the main financial aid hubs in the U.S. If you fill out a FAFSA, you’ll receive things from them. So clicking around on their website and educating yourself about all things financial aid might also be beneficial.
5. Your high school’s website
Throughout the entire fall semester, local scholarships are flooding into your school counselor’s mailbox.
Different agencies like your hometown bank, local cable company, and American Legion or auxiliary groups sponsor scholarships for students in the area. School counselors receive posters, brochures, and postcards about every available opportunity for you to get free money.
These scholarships usually get posted on the school’s website somewhere. If your school counseling office has its own website, that’s where I would check first.
Local scholarship opportunities are the best. You’re not competing with the whole country to get them. So make sure you’re aware of how your school posts them.
Remember, NEVER pay to search for scholarships. And use your best judgment if something seems fishy.