How to Find Scholarships
How to find scholarships for “X” is one of the most common questions we get asked at Scholarships360 and one I received countless times while working in college admissions.
Luckily, 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 to is actually finding and researching scholarships.
The scholarship search can be a daunting task as there are so many online resources for students to use, making it essential for students to develop a strategy for identifying the best scholarships for them. After all, the scholarships that are the closest match to your “profile” are the ones you have the best chance of winning!
Three of the most common ways that students search for scholarships are through:
- Scholarships search engines
- Specific colleges and universities
- Local community
Each of these scholarship channels will allow you to find and apply for different types of scholarship so you can cast a wide net (and hopefully win lots of scholarship money).
Let’s explore each of these options in more depth…
1. Scholarship search engines
Scholarship search engines allow you to search for a wide variety of colleges 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. Websites like Fastweb, Cappex, and Scholarships.com have scholarship search engines that students can use.
At Scholarships360, we’ve developed the Scholarships360 ScholarshipFinder. This tool will allow you to search our directory of curated scholarship opportunities for high school, college, community college, and even graduate students. You can search scholarships according to a variety of categories, including essay scholarships, diversity scholarships, creative scholarships, and athletic scholarships. This search engine also organizes scholarship search results by deadline date, so you can always figure out which scholarship deadlines are coming up (which means you won’t miss a deadline!).
2. Specific college and university scholarships
Many colleges and universities offers 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). Here are some colleges and universities that offer generous merit scholarships to incoming first year students.
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!
3. 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). To find local scholarships, the following resources are usually good bets for discovering opportunities:
- Your school guidance counselor
- Local Parent Teacher Organization
- Church, temple, or place of worship
- Nonprofits and foundations in your community
- Local newspaper
- Small businesses
Chances are, there are a number of local scholarships available for students like you. While these opportunities tend to be a smaller dollar amount than some of the large, national scholarships, every single bit helps when paying for college!
The best scholarship strategy is broad, and should include private scholarships, colleges-specific scholarships, and local scholarships. Now, when someone asks you how to find scholarships, you’ll be able to give them a few pointers. After all, learning how to find scholarship opportunities is the first step towards winning money to help pay for your education and graduate debt free!