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How to Find Scholarships

If you are a high school or college student you are probably looking for ways to pay for college. Scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for your education because they are essentially free money that doesn’t need to be repaid. If you are wondering how to find scholarships, you have multiple options available.

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There are literally millions of dollars awarded each year to students in the form of scholarships. While the start-to-finish process of winning scholarships has many steps, remember that the first, most important step is actually finding and researching scholarships.

How to find scholarships as a high school student

If you are a high school student who is looking for scholarships, here are a few ways to to get started on your search:

Scholarship websites

Scholarship websites and search engines allow you to search for a wide variety of scholarships according to your educational goals, preferences, and personal information (including gender, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.). Your personalized search results will help you identify the best scholarships for you.

Learn more: Top Scholarship Websites for Students in 2021

These scholarships include awards for students at any grade level in high school. Here are some lists with the top scholarships for students (all organized by grade level):

Specific college and university scholarships

Many colleges and universities offer specific scholarships to incoming freshman students. These scholarships can be extremely valuable in terms of the dollar amount (some even range up to full tuition awards).

However, they are also valuable because most of these opportunities can be renewed for four years (provided a student maintains a specific number of credits and GPA). These colleges and universities offer generous merit scholarships to incoming first year students.

Need-based financial aid

However, you shouldn’t forget about need-based financial aid. At most colleges, the majority of financial aid awarded is through need-based scholarships.

The Net Price Calculator is a great, free tool that allows students to estimate need-based financial aid at any college or university in the United States. If you do wind up applying for need-based financial aid (which most students should do), the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is a necessary application that you will need to submit!

Scholarships in your local community

One of the downsides to well-known scholarship opportunities is that they attract a lot of applications. This means that the competition can be quite fierce. This is why local scholarships can be so valuable–they are meant to support students in the local community (and tend to have less applicants increasing your chances of winning).

To find local scholarships, the following resources are usually good bets for discovering opportunities:

  • Your school counselor
  • Local Parent Teacher Organization
  • Church, temple, or place of worship
  • Nonprofits and foundations in your community
  • Local newspaper
  • Small and large local businesses

While these local scholarship opportunities tend to be a smaller dollar amount than some of the large, national scholarships, every single bit helps when paying for college!

How to find scholarships as a college student

You may not know it, but there are lots of scholarships for college students too! Some of the top ways that you can find scholarships will be the same as when you were in high school:

However, there are also some other great sources for finding scholarships that are more specific to college-students:

Scholarships through your academic department

Chances are that the academic department you are studying in offers scholarships for students who are majors in the discipline. Oftentimes these scholarships are for upperclassmen who have a strong academic record in the specific field.

Check out your academic department’s webpage to see if there are any opportunities that you might qualify for or ask the faculty in your department what resources they know of.

Funding for research, internships, and study abroad

If you are a college student who is interested in studying abroad, securing a summer internship, or doing research, there may be specific scholarships and grants available to you!

See also: Top Study Abroad Scholarships in 2021

Like the departmental academic scholarships mentioned above, these scholarship opportunities are generally offered through your college. We’d recommend getting in touch with the office of financial aid for more details on the types of funding that might be available. 

Finding scholarships can be time-intensive and it can get frustrating if you aren’t winning the scholarships you’re applying for. Don’t get discouraged! You can’t win a scholarship if you don’t apply and once you do earn one, the time invested will be well worth it!